Adult coloring books topped the Amazon.com best-seller lists in 2015 and will likely still be there in 2016 and on. Why are so many adults seeking out mandalas and patterns collected in a book to color?
People want to de-stress. Period. And coloring creates mindfulness, which is a technique that manages thoughts and feelings with focus and relaxation.
With the pace of our world, our minds are constantly going – mostly without our awareness. Stress can come from our environment, but mostly it comes from our mind.
It’s like this:We create conscious thoughts and expectations and beliefs which take a chunk of mind space, but then most of us are not aware that subconsciously our brains are still working on the problem we’ve consciously stopped thinking about, so then we react unconsciously because by now we’ve put ourselves on autopilot. And while we just want peace we reach for our cell phones (or other addictive vice) because they do seem to focus (or to numb) our attention, but they actually only perpetuate the stress reaction and feed it. Some fortunately end up scrolling through Amazon looking for the next fad that will calm frayed nerves because we want a break. From ourselves. From our thoughts. And so people are experiencing peace of mind and buying…coloring books.
Here’s why it works:
Your body has a stress response – it’s called “fight or flight” – it was created to save your life as your system dumps adrenaline and sugar into your bloodstream and expands your blood vessels and speeds your heart rate. What is mean to save your life in threatening situations is actually harming your body as it stays in this constant state of bodily stress over perceived threats.
Your body also has a relaxation response. Your heart rate slows and the amygdala in your brain calms its conditioned work of heightened emotion and reaction which creates a feeling of calm and peace. There are many techniques that trigger the relaxation response – meditation is the biggest scientifically proven technique, and it can also be experienced with music and yoga, for example.
The relaxation response has two elements:
- Disregard of other things that come to mind
Coloring repetitive patterns creates this relaxation response – which is actually our “normal” state of mind.
Be intentional to be aware of what’s causing your stress response. Then remove it. Next, intentionally choose a practice to trigger and strengthen the relaxation response. The health benefits are infinite.
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INspired Leadership Team, Rachel Thalmann
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