By Cokie Thompson
School has started, and elementary school students across the state are all stocked up on fresh paper, unbroken crayons, and if their parents were feeling generous while back-to-school shopping, a new coloring book. This year, those parents might even get in on the fun.
Last fall, Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book made its way to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list. It might be interesting for any coloring book to reach that status, but this one is especially notable: it’s for adults.
Articles from Slate and Huffington Post have highlighted the stress-relieving benefits of coloring for all ages, especially adults with lives that don’t seem to allow them to slow down and breathe.
Allison Adams, an Alabama artist, drew Southern Scribblings after years of journaling and following Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way. She believes in the power of setting aside time to relax and get in touch with her creative side. Her book incorporates exercises beyond filling in the lines to help people sort out things going on in their heads they may not be paying attention to.
“This one I was trying to also get people thinking about getting creative but also balancing their life,” Adams said.
She said her goal is to help people open up to their creativity, and she hopes this will help them connect with their hopes and dreams from before they cared if they were coloring inside the lines.
“When people get to the point in life where they are asking, ‘What am I doing? Why am I on this treadmill?’ almost always they go back to that thing that they loved when they were five or six,” Adams said.
At Caring Days Adult Day Care in Tuscaloosa, adults with Alzheimer’s disease get creative with coloring books too. Artwork from current and former patients covers the walls and keeps the facility warm and feeling like home.
Executive Director Vicki Kerr said while it can be tricky defining what is or isn’t within a patient’s skill set, coloring has had a positive impact on Caring Days.
“I don’t ever want to do anything that seems to be demeaning,” Kerr said. “When it’s your kids, you’re proud, but of course with Alzheimer’s patients it goes the other way.”
Whether it’s through Wild West themed-coloring books or watercolors on paper, Kerr said Caring Days patrons are able to express some of their deepest feelings.
“What you see come out is from their heart,” Kerr said.
Arts ‘n Autism in Tuscaloosa works with children on the autism spectrum through after-school programs and summer camps. Amy Grimes, the art teacher for the program, said she could see how adult coloring books would help people relax.
She uses Zentangles, a drawing method, to help calm her students who have difficulty with transitions. The task is focused, but not fraught with potential error, and helps them work through anything that is frustrating them.
“Particularly if you have kids who are used to doing things in an order,” Grimes said. “It does center them and make them feel quite comfortable.”
Like Allison Adams, Grimes said helping people engage their creative side can be difficult at first.
“When you try to get them to revisit it, they’re frightened by that, but it’s amazing if you give them step one or step two, they aren’t as overwhelmed,” Grimes said.
Whether you’re stressed about bosses and clients or learning how to read, a coloring book might help you unwind.
Article sponsored by Belle Chambre.
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