Coloring books geared for grown-ups have been gaining a lot of traction over the last few years. But this is really old-news-reborn. Some of the earliest findings regarding expressive art therapy and well-being were noted in the 1920’s by psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, who found that coloring mandalas had a calming effect on his adult patients[i].
Drawing, coloring and other kinds of expressive art have long enjoyed a solid foothold in the annals of well-being research, but recent studies reporting coloring reduces anxiety[ii], depression[iii] and fatigue[iv] have led to a publishing boon. All you have to do is take a look in your local bookstore or online. You’ll discover that crayons and paper aren’t just for kids anymore.
Tips for Coloring
If you’ve decided to use this art form as a way to decrease your depression or lift your mood, here are some tips to consider.
[i] Jung, C. G. (1972). Mandala Symbolism. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
[ii] Curry, N. A., & Kasser, T. (2005). Can coloring mandalas reduce anxiety? Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 22, 81–85.
[iii] McCaffrey, R. (2007).The effect of healing gardens and art therapy on older adults with mild to moderate depression. Holistic nursing practice, 21(2): 79-84.
[iv] Bar‐Sela, Gil, et al. (2007). Art therapy improved depression and influenced fatigue levels in cancer patients on chemotherapy. Psycho‐Oncology,16(11): 980-984.
[v] Smolarski, K. et. al. (2015).Reducing negative mood through drawing: Comparing venting, positive expression and tracing. Art Therapy, 32(4):197-201.
Dr. Deborah Serani is author of the award-winning books "Depression and Your Child: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers" and "Living with Depression" by Rowman & Littlefield. Her next book “Depression in Later Life” launches in 2016.