This year for Christmas everybody in the room starting from 3 year old to the 68 year old got a coloring book as a present. After going for a long walk, we spent most of the Christmas day coloring alone, in pairs or as a group. Although this activity is mostly associated with kids, everyone enjoyed it and felt calm and relaxed.  More and more research shows that coloring generates wellness, quietness and also stimulates brain areas related to motor skills, the senses and creativity.

The origins of coloring as a relaxation technique stated with the psychologists Carl G. Jüng in the early 20th century. He did this through mandalas or circular designs with concentric shapes that originate in India. Our coloring books this Christmas were not only mandalas but included designs that appeal to every interest from whimsical doodles to nature scenes and fantasy worlds.

Simply put, coloring has a de-stressing effect because when we focus on a particular activity, we focus on it and not on our worries. Coloring also brings out our imagination and takes us back to our childhood, a period in which we were certainly carefree and had a lot less stress. Coloring books have been used to gently ease veterans suffering from PTSD into art therapy.  One study on college students found that coloring pre-drawn patterns significantly reduced signs of stress and depression.

If you are having a hard time sitting still in meditation or find it hard to journal and write your introspections in your diary, this year give coloring books a try. It’s easy, inexpensive and you don’t have to know how to draw. And those 10 to 20 minutes you spend coloring might give you a sense of satisfaction, calm and relaxation that can have a positive ripple effect throughout the day.