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Between The Lines-Adult Coloring Books

By Kathryn Will

Adults can do lots of things children cannot. From driving and voting to having the occasional glass of chardonnay, there are a lot of perks that come with growing up.

But when creativity is involved, especially the uninhibited ingenuity that comes with play and daydreaming, kids most certainly have the upper hand.

Why? A study from North Dakota State University on facilitating child-like creativity in adults states that the part of our brain that dictates rule-based behavior develops as we age. The “rules,” or what society says is normal, don’t affect a child’s creativity or imagination in the same ways they do an adult.

Aside from its calming effects, coloring forces people to tap into both sides of their brain.

~Psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala

Thankfully, there are things that can help adults get the creative juices flowing. Coloring, a huge craze in recent years—Nielsen Bookscan, a data provider for the book publishing industry, estimates 12 million adult coloring books were sold in 2015—is among the best solutions for regaining your inner creativity.

A lot like meditation, coloring offers a chance to unplug and be in the present moment.

Kimberly Wulfert, a clinical psychologist, tells that “the whole idea behind focusing on one thing for an extended period of time is to bring us into the present … you’re being mindful, and when you move in a rhythmic fashion for an extended period of time, that becomes a meditation.”

Aside from its calming effects, coloring forces people to tap into both sides of their brain, something that has its own benefits. Psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala explains to “The action (coloring) involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills. The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.”

Rather than obsessing over a full inbox or dwelling on a pending deadline, coloring allows for a brief escape and a mental reset. In a sense, participating in an activity such as coloring helps clear the mind, freeing it to focus on the task at hand.

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