Adult Coloring Books as Self-Care for Beginners
One of the biggest new forms of self-care and mindfulness to go mainstream in the last few years are adult coloring books. As a kid we were handed coloring books to improve motor skills and to distract us from talking our parents ears off. Just me on the last one? Oh well. Now, things are a little bit different.
As we’ve grown older, sure, we’ve occasionally returned to the crayon box, and sidled up next to a niece or nephew, or children of our own, and passed the time coloring with them. For some they return to the coloring craft with improved line work, and others (read: myself), not so much. After a while though, it can feel rudimentary and we often find it doesn’t capture our attention for nearly as long as it used to. Adult coloring books have now arrived on the scene to remove that rudimentary feel and keep us engaged on what is rapidly becoming one of the most popular modes of self-care on the market. And I am here to admit: I have fallen for it hook, line, and sinker. I’m sold, I’m dedicated, and I’m fantasizing about coloring right now.
At this point I imagine that you have some questions about why these qualify as “self-care” outside of: they’re pretty and a lot of fun. Simple, they’re good for your MIND. Mandalas and other adult coloring books help one to practice mindfulness, which is essentially the art of staying in the moment. Not being pulled backwards or forward, but being able to exist in the now. This practice can assist any individual in: "explore feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem." This is all per the American Art Therapy Association, and per me: they’re fun and have been very effective in helping me with my anxiety.
Let me now admit (if you haven’t caught on yet) that I have zero artistic talent. None. Nada. Nothing. It’s a curse that has been passed through my family for generations, and it did not skip me. I say this to comfort those of you who may be hesitant to pick up one of these books fearing that they are too complex and don’t want to risk it. I promise you, they are worth trying. My Amazon wish list is jam packed with coloring books. They haunt my dreams, they sing to me, their siren call beckoning me to click “purchase.” And when I’ve had a rough day at work they scream to me: “Buy us! Put us in your cart and sit with me on your couch and fill me full of scribbles and colors both in and out of the lines!” I fall for it, time and time again.
Here are some of my favorites to curl up with, drink some peppermint tea, put on some Stevie Nicks, and go to town on while Amelia “helps” by smacking around my pencils and contemptuously judging my work. (Each of my links are to Amazon Smile, if you have not utilized Amazon Smile in the past, I would hope you’d take a look at it and maybe set it up for yourself. Amazon donates a percentage of each of your purchases to a charity of your choosing when you purchase through Amazon Smile.)
I purchased this for myself in a moment of absolute weakness and have no regretted it. I grew up with Harry Potter, and it remains one of my favorite series to this day. So, for me, coming home and pulling this book off the shelves and coloring my way through the phoenix’s, house elves, dragons, acromantula, and hippogriffs and a myriad of other magical creatures apparates me back to Hogwarts and immediately puts me at ease. This is the perfect gift for Potter-Heads of any age. And with the new Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them film in the works, this book will get you just as excited as the trailers. I will be purchasing ALL of the Harry Potter coloring books. But for you Whovians or those that may be Sherlock-ed, those are also coloring book options!
This one is a bit more complex than any of the others I own. The cities in the book are both real and imagined, and as large as the pages are, the drawings are very detailed. I will admit that I have yet to complete an entire page in this book and it can wear on you after a while. For myself, I enjoy the feeling of completing something, and in this book it can take dedication to get to that point. That being said, for those of you who enjoy a project and it won’t clutter your mind to leave it unfinished, this is a fabulous book for you. There is also Fantastic Structures that is just a stunning book filed with architecturally beautiful buildings that I will absolutely be adding to my collection.
ENCHANTED FORREST: AN INKY QUEST
My first adult coloring book, bought on a whim at a Michaels and I have never looked back. This is one in a series by Johanna Basford, including alsoSecret Garden and Lost Ocean. Being my first book, it has the most completed pages in it and holds a special place in my heart. This book (and her others) makes a perfect jumping off point for anyone looking to color. The designs are simple, yet beautiful, and it has an excellent balance of detail and space to color. This is key for people like myself who struggle with those fine details and are a little messier with a pencil.
An anniversary gift from my supportive and thoughtful boyfriend, this book continues to enchant and excite me. I love tattoos, and traditional style tattoos are my favorite, no question. This book glorifies and displays the crisp, clean line work and simple design of traditional tattoos, and truly is one of my favorites to color in. (And I’m not just saying that because Sebastian helps to proof-read these posts.)
As I’m certain you have noticed, there are many different options in the world of adult coloring books, from nerdy to those that delve fully into the term adult, and there are others more innocently detailing cats in Paris, while some beautifully spell out the four letter words we long to scream at the top of our lungs in traffic. No matter what your style or flavor, I promise you, there is a book out there waiting for you to pick it up, take it home and wreck it with color while your favorite show or album plays on in the background. I can only wish your cat is less judgmental than mine is.
Until next time, take care of yourselves!
Kat & Amelia