Wednesday, January 13, 2016

4 Positive Ways Adults Are Coloring to Improve Their Health!

“Happy!” What an upbeat word.

Makes me think of a woman I once met called Happy. It wasn’t a nick name either, and perfectly matched her personality: Always smiling. Positive. Cheerful. And who doesn’t sing and clap along with the song, “Happy,” by Pharrell Williams.

Wait until you see the pages inside. So cute!
A bit of happy turned up in my mailbox not long ago when artist/friend Gina Graham sent me a complimentary copy of “Here's Some Happy.” It’s a 32-page coloring book of her original designs and sports a cute, black Scottish Terrier on the cover. (I so want one of those dogs.)

So, yes, like thousands of others, coloring books for grownups have my attention these days. They seem to be everywhere: craft stores, grocery stores, dollar stores, fabric stores, and even in the work place. Apparently they are “in” right now.

Not too long ago my local paper ran an article about their current popularity, touching upon the benefits coloring can have on one’s health. Intrigued, I did a little research into the subject. In a nutshell, here’s what I learned: Coloring helps reduce stress, fosters friendships, counters anxiety and more.

Coloring is calming

Simply stated, coloring calms us. Scientific studies indicate that as we color our brains become more focused, quieting our minds and enabling us to relax. Ah, how nice.
Totally relaxed after coloring this page.

Tracy Chastain, a friend of Gina, is a prime example of this. She is battling cancer and uses coloring to assist her in the fight. Her comments below truly underscore the immense value of a coloring book:

I am on an oral chemotherapy regimen for an EGFR lung cancer mutation. Once a month I get an infusion to help strengthen my bones and slow the spread of my metastatic bone cancer. It’s a long, difficult day and often stirs up anxiety in me as I usually do it alone.

“One day I was scheduled for an infusion and was particularly distressed, crying non- stop. Life of cancer had caught up with me and I was overwhelmed by it all. I was finally grieving from this diagnosis. Thinking I could not get through another treatment, I began packing my things, about to skip the treatment, and head home. But then my social worker brought me an adult coloring page and some colored pencils, providing a distraction and a way to ‘escape’ for a bit. That’s when I knew I had to get me a copy of  ‘Here’s Some Happy.’

“I knew coloring would give me some moments where I can focus my attention on details, but not the details of cancer. It is my little piece of tranquility. It is my place of respite. And now I am finding that about every day I need to open up ‘Happy’ and spend a few minutes getting away from the daily task of cancer. It soothes my soul and is therapeutic. I am so thankful that such a small thing as a lovely, whimsical, encouraging coloring book can do all that. And yet it does!”

Another artist in the family: Gina's Mom!

Others have relayed similar stories, even an artist:

Coloring and creating art helps me (Gina) combat daily anxiety and depression - which has stalked me since I was a teenager. Thankfully it also played a big role in my own cancer journey, providing relief as I healed from thyroid removal and the scary complications that followed in 2013.

“On the surface coloring might seem trivial. How can something so simple help a person in deep pain? For me coloring was a sweet distraction. It’s been said that you can’t color and worry at the same time. I’ve found it to be true. It’s easy to get lost in the picture and colors. The mind gets a break and painful things loose there focus for a time, giving the body real rest.”

These are two remarkable women and stories. Now let me tell you another which I stumbled upon while doing my research.

Coloring at Work

This one is about an innovative young man I heard about via who brought a coloring book and crayons to his workplace! On Friday afternoons, he did some coloring to counter all the challenges of the week. Eventually, some of his co-workers joined him in the conference room. I don’t know where he got the idea, but it worked. If I owned a business I’d be quick to initiate a similar practice. After all, happy employees make good employees.

Coloring at Home

Here’s another novel idea that came from my research which has the potential to cultivate or deepen relationships: start a Ladies’ Coloring Club! One woman did this by inviting her friends to meet once a month at her home where they would color, sip wine, and visit. Sounds like a hoot. What an ideal way to get to know others plus develop a healthy outlook on life by coloring for a few hours with friends. 

Coloring at the Library

My local library gave me a surprise recently when I noticed it offers a weekly coloring opportunity for anyone over 18. That’s a win-win for me as reading books and enjoying art are my two favorite forms of entertainment. The combination of being in a book environment while participating in a creative activity makes me happy. And the thought of having a lively book discussion as we color away makes me want to go out and buy a new box of crayons. 

What about you? Ready to borrow your child’s crayons and join the trend? Or perhaps acquire a coloring book to encourage someone you know with a chronic illness or in distress? Would love to hear your story in the comment box below if you do.

Meanwhile, stay upbeat. Live happy!

P.S. To buy a copy of "Here's Some Happy" or see other art by Gina go to Or check out