Coloring calms down the busiest of minds
Thanks to its basic, repetitive motions, coloring engages parts of the cerebral cortex while relaxing the amygdala, the brain’s fear center. A group of college students participated in one of the few studies of the mental-health impacts of coloring. The students were instructed to write about something frightening (to spike anxiety levels). Then they were assigned to one of three activities: Color a blank page, color a plaid design, or color an intricate circular pattern called a mandala. Those who colored the plaid design or the mandala were less anxious than those who had a blank page. For maximum meditative benefits, completely immerse yourself—so don’t watch Game of Thrones or text at the same time. Concentrate on the many sensations: What does the crayon feel like between your fingers? How does it smell? How would you describe the exact shade you’ve chosen? If you want to give an adult coloring book a try, click here to check out some beautiful nature-inspired patterns.
Coloring can get rid of the dark circles under your eyes
By swapping your cellphone, tablet, or laptop for a coloring book before bed, you’ll avoid exposing yourself to the sleep-sabotaging blue light emitted by electronic devices. In studies, researchers found that people who used an electronic device at night had greater difficulty falling asleep and got less REM sleep (necessary for rest and for memory consolidation) than those who didn’t. After they woke up, device users felt sleepier and their sleepiness lasted for a longer time than non-device users.
Coloring lets you nurture your inner artist
Still have painful memories of elementary-school art class? Undo that psychic damage. Using a coloring book—especially one with intricately crafted designs—is like having a wonderful artist enlist you as a partner by asking you to shade in her or his designs. The current high priestess of coloring, Johanna Basford, declares that the people filling in her books are every bit as creative as she is. Check out the gallery on her website where you can see the mind-blowingly cool panels created by fans.