Have you noticed stacks of coloring books in the magazine racks in the grocery store? Have you seen patrons at coffee shops, book stores, or libraries with pencils or crayons spread out around them? Did you notice Twitter and Instagram were inundated with the hashtag #NationalColoringBookDay this past Wednesday? Well, if you can answer yes to any of these questions, you are likely aware of a new trend that’s taken hold across the U.S.: adult coloring books. Maybe you’re familiar with the trend; maybe you’ve even bought a coloring book for yourself. Maybe you’re wondering why we’re writing about coloring on a workforce development blog.
At the 28th Annual AJLA Conference in San Francisco, the theme was Collaborate – Create – Captivate. One goal of the conference was to encourage attendees to be creative and to develop new perspectives, like learning how to take graphic notes. Each attendee received a pack of colored pencils and a coloring and doodle sheet (download your own here). We did this not just to be cool and trendy, but also because coloring has been proven to reduce stress, increase mindfulness, and to contribute to an overall more healthy life.
As Tom Roston of ideas.ted.com writes, “…there is something calming about engaging in a familiar, low-impact activity that requires minimal thought and bestows a clear sense of progress.” The benefit of taking a quick coloring break at work is that this simple task allows you to hit pause on your self-consciousness, resetting your focus and potentially jump-starting your creative problem-solving skills (Tate). Studies have even demonstrated a clear reduction in cortisol (stress hormone) levels after participating in an art task (Kaimal, Ray, & Muniz).
While we’re not advocating for you to ditch your responsibilities at work in favor of coloring a masterpiece, we do suggest you find what works for you to reset your focus and increase your creativity. Maybe it’s taking five minutes or a lunch break to color or draw. Maybe it’s watching a funny cat video. But whatever it is, we hope you find that essential balance between work and play so that your productivity and creativity increase and any stress and anxiety decrease.