When it comes to wellness, sometimes it’s good to think outside the box – or color outside of the lines, if you will. We’ve all heard of wellness trends that nourish our mind, body, and soul, but the emergence of adult coloring books begs the question: what are most of us doing to exercise our creative expression? And if we’re not, should we start?
We know about the importance of art for child development; in U.S. schools, from pre-school to high school, it is mandatory to take art classes within the school, just the same as one would take Math or English. Often times, when school budgets are reassessed, it is proposed that the art programs be discontinued- which is fiercely contested, with proven research to back up the claims that art is a necessity. Studies have shown that not only does involvement in the arts have a positive impact on the other subjects in school, but also cognitive thinking and decision-making. In his article* on the connection between art and achievements and values on young adults, James Catteral concludes that the arts “prepare young people for success, both in school and in life.” With the arts programs proven to give kids the advantages they need later on in life, they seem to be sticking around for the long run.
If kids are better off in life by creating art, why not adults? One might say that development continues throughout one’s life; we are in a constant state of improving. Since many of us want to continue to improve ourselves well into adulthood (and perhaps throughout our lives), creative expression is something to strongly consider not as a distraction, but a form of play that positively affects other areas of our lives.
While the paint night trend must be fun, there is nothing simpler than grabbing a coloring book, which may even be offered at your local market in the checkout line (at Whole Foods, for example). Many of the coloring books now cater to adults who seek a calming experience, using mandalas, themed books, and even swear word coloring books; though those make for another distinctly adult coloring book experience (and give new meaning to “colorful language”.) Check out an art supply store that caters to artists and designers, like Utrecht or Dick Blick and you’ll find an impressive selection of professional color pencils. Looking for added convenience, or to hide the fact that you might be taking up coloring again? You can also find an array of both the pencils and adult coloring books on Amazon.com. Prismacolor Premier pencils seem to be the favorite among Amazon shoppers.
Is the coloring book trend here to stay? Only time will tell, but it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if they become more varied, catering to people with different needs. Perhaps we’ll see more themed books, like happiness or gratitude themes, with the inclusion of affirmations. Similarly, we may be seeing workbooks, such as gratitude journals, incorporate more coloring elements. We could see more portable-friendly books, smaller and easier to carry. In any form it takes, art is a proven simple and fun way to improve one’s well-being.
Between juicing, naps, meditation (time outs?) and coloring books, health trends seem to be bringing childhood practices to the forefront, and I’m not mad about it at all. (If you need me, I’ll be researching the positive health effects of dodgeball and water parks). Do the simple things that make you happy, and feel free to continue your favorite activities well into adulthood- they’re good for you!
Catterall, James S. (2009). “Doing well and doing good by doing art: The effects of education in the visual and performing arts on the achievements and values of young adults.” Los Angeles/London: Imagination Group/I-Group Books.