Increasing the relaxation and fun in my life – coloring for adults

In the last year I’ve been consciously increasing my level of self-care.  Putting yourself first is something that intellectually I’ve believed in but not put enough focus on in the busyness of day to day living and taking care of all of those around me.

As a result of my increased focus on self-care, my life feels more sane and balanced.  This is despite my week being more full than ever teaching parenting classes and working with private clients, in addition to homeschooling five children and my other responsibilities.

I continue to look for ways to increase my self-nurturing, and when someone mentioned the idea of coloring books for adults, I was intrigued.  Coloring has been found to help people unwind, destress and get into a meditative state that accesses the right side of the brain.  I frequently attach my shaded doodles to whatever scrap of paper happens to be in front of me when I’m on the phone so coloring in detailed artistic scenes sounded enjoyable to me.

It’s interesting to me that coloring for adults has become so popular and yet for children there are many voices who maintain that coloring blocks creativity!  While telling a child what and how to color can be constraining, letting him color as he wants isn’t the same thing.  I see it as a nice way to be quietly mindful and focused on what is in front of you without having your mind racing with thoughts about other things you need to do.  Most kids can benefit from some time to calm down and do a focused activity just as much as adults.

My kids have been watching me color three different pages of mandalas and it’s piquing their interest to do something similar.  This morning ds8 told me it looked fun and when I asked if it looked like something he would enjoy, he nodded with an eager smile.  I’ll keep my eyes open for something detailed but simpler than what they have for adults.

I purchased a basic set of colored pencils but these didn’t give a strong enough color for me to feel satisfied with the result.  Then I got a set of markers and colored pens, and so far like the colored pens best.  The markers would be great if the tip was finer.  Ideally I’d like a wide range of colors to use but only the artist quality colored pencil sets had that, and I’m not yet ready to invest $100 on them!

This is an inexpensive activity that can take as much or as little time as you have, and I’m enjoying it.  It’s gratifying that instead of my scratching covering little scraps of paper, I end up with lovely pictures instead.

The only downside I can think of is if you feel pressured to finish a picture in one setting and then push yourself to spend more time than you have available to complete it.  But that’s the same issue that comes up with many other hobbies and activities.


14 thoughts on “Increasing the relaxation and fun in my life – coloring for adults

  1. Good for you Avivah! Mandala coloring books are sold in some pharmacies by the check out counter. Also there are several sites where you can download mandala coloring pages for free. It is reported to be great for very intense personality types and people with ADHD, as it can involve very detailed focus, planning and creative expression. Some of my kids love doing them. I personally have way too hard a time stopping once I start. I once found a website of a woman in Israel who actually designs mandalas and has a studio of her work.

    1. The first one I did I also had a hard time stopping. But as I continued, I got more and more relaxed about it, letting go of any sense of how it needed to look (a masterpiece!) when I was finished and also being able to put it down and pick it up again for a short time here and there without the urgency to ‘get it done!’

  2. I’m so glad you wrote this email b/c I totally forgot that I had bought an “adult” coloring book right before we made Aliyah and haven’t seen it since we arrived. Might be the perfect thing for stress relief or to do with the kids while they are coloring as a joint activity!

    1. After making aliyah there are always stresses and it’s a great activity to pull out! Although I intended to keep the coloring books strictly for me, I’ve let two boys each fill in a page of one book. This morning one son was feeling like his life was very unfair because a sibling got to do something he wanted to do, and I offered him a chance to color in a page.

      I wanted to help him calm down but I also wanted to give him an opportunity to do something special that the other kids weren’t doing (naturally then another son came to me and said, ‘why does he get to color in your book? I asked you first and you said no!) It was very helpful for him – he completely shifted his mood.

  3. I always feel that I don’t have time to sit and do anything, but I suspect that my phone is the mysterious time gobbler. Perhaps if I had a good book of these I’d even put down my phone for it. I’m certain it would be healthier than following the “news”. My daughter has 3-4 she got as gifts and I actual feel wistful when I look at them. Thanks for the suggestion!

    1. Sharon, I want to respond to this in a post! I thought I’d do it today but then my computer didn’t go on. Until it’s repaired (assuming it can be repaired), I’m only going to have access to my husband’s computer for very limited times in the evenings so it will probably now take me a few days longer to write that response than I had planned!

  4. We’ve been using coloring books here as well, both children and adults. I had similar thoughts about whether it was actually stunted their creativity if the kids are choosing if they want to do it and how they want to do it. Definitely a calming activity in this house!

  5. I love coloring too! When I was on bedrest during my first pregnancy – that is what I asked my husband to buy…crayons and a coloring book! enjoy the time to yourself!

  6. I got an “adult coloring” book for my birthday and was doing some of the designs, then moved to an older book that I had with more interesting geometries. This morning the kids decided they wanted to go to shul (my male partner does not do weekday minyan it is more of a me thing) so I took them with pages from my book. I had three kids 5-8 sitting perfectly quite in shul coloring. The only time they made noise was when the Rabbi was talking to them. It was such a nice way to spend the morning (instead of the usual, they have lots of time but don’t get ready for school anyway). At our shul they serve breakfast so the kids ate there then walked to school (across the parking lot) with their teacher. Thanks for reminding me to take them out. I rarely have what can be called “total parenting wins”.

  7. I know this is an older post, but the publisher Dovet makes detailed coloring books for children. I have also found that my eight year old can color some of the more simple designs in adult coloring books, and feels very proud when he does. :)

  8. I have several adult coloring books. I just wanted to share my tip. I never color in those books. Instead, I copy the pictures I want to color onto cardstock. That way, I can color the same picture multiple times, or share it with my kids, if we want to color the same picture. And I still have a lovely book to look through, when I need to get inspired with fresh ideas!

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