I’ve noticed a few themes emerging in the personal development space that center around the need for individuals to find ways to decompress, de-stress, and detox from their digital lives. One of the ideas I heard was adult coloring books. Now before you laugh, check out these articles on CNN, Huffington Post, the NY Post and the LA Times about the popularity of adult coloring. This isn’t a fad that’s going away.
So, a couple of years ago, when Free Period Press offered to send me a coloring book, I jumped at the chance to see firsthand what coloring would bring. Lora DiFranco, one of the founders, said they created the coloring book as a result of “not being very crafty” but wanting to spend time away from computer screens and feel creative. After successfully funding a Kickstarter campaign, she heard from people that, in addition to using them at home, they were using the books during breaks at work.
I keep a coloring book on the edge of my desk and, and when I needed a break or a little distraction, I color. Here’s what I learned from the experience:
- Old skool isn’t bad. Just because something is old, vintage or retro doesn’t make it bad. Frank Sinatra, Manhattans, and adult coloring books are evidence of this. Conversely, there are some things that are better left in history. It’s about putting things into proper context. It’s okay to revisit pieces of our childhood. And if you prefer digital, there are plenty of coloring apps – my favorite is Recolor – that you can use on your mobile devices.
- To be successful, you must have the proper tools. In the case of coloring books, you need proper lighting and some good colored pencils. I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy coloring as much as I am. I initially thought this would be a passing fancy, so I only purchased a dozen colored pencils. Since then, I’ve upgraded to the 24-count package. You can do whatever you choose. The point is, to really get the benefit from anything, you need to have the proper tools.
- Give creativity time. I work on pages for days, sometimes even weeks. Every time I look at a page, I see something different or I get a new inspiration. It’s coloring and I’m not under a deadline, so enjoy taking my time.
- Having a low-tech or no-tech activity is a healthy break from the computer screen. There are medical studies that say staring at a computer screen all day isn’t good for our eyes. And looking at our tablets right before bed isn’t good for our sleep. Coloring can get us away from our technology. It’s nice to end the day with 5-10 minutes of coloring.
- Beware! Coloring is just as addictive as chocolate and computer games. I really enjoy coloring and have found it to be a fun activity. Since my first coloring book, I’ve funded a Kickstarter campaign in my area who created a coloring book showcasing local artists.
My only question was what do I do with the finished colored pieces? Is the activity sufficient by itself? When we were kids, our finished coloring went on the refrigerator. I guess you could still do that. But, Lora suggested turning your works of art into cards for family and friends. Just cut them into the shape and size you want and glue them to thicker cardstock. I’ve also used my digital coloring pieces as screensavers for my mobile devices.
If you haven’t tried coloring books, and are looking for something different, give it a try. You might be surprised. It takes very little time and money to get started and coloring can offer a lot in terms of creativity as well as relaxation.