Health and Wellness: Relax by coloring

Ann Cochran - Dallas County Health Department
Special to Dallas County News and Perry Chief

When was the last time you picked up some crayons and just sat and colored? While you’re stressed with a busy schedule, this may seem like a ridiculous waste of time. Or it could be an opportunity to refresh your mind, breathe deeply and relax your neck, shoulders and back.

During the month of May, Iowa is marking Mental Health Awareness Month. Part of emotional wellness is a daily opportunity to engage our thoughts and feelings in a positive way.

Back to coloring. Research indicates that while coloring, different parts of your brain are activated as you choose colors and use fine motor skills. Because you don’t need to think deeply about the actual coloring, your brain is free to ruminate on other thoughts. Coloring before bedtime can help you relax and let go of troubling thoughts.

Coloring isn’t limited to coloring books. The creative thinking involved when drawing and doodling promotes brain activity. Try crayons, colored pencils, markers, even paint. Free coloring pages for children and adults are available online at www.crayola.com/featured/free-coloring-pages/. You can even use the backs of junk mail for coloring.

In combination with good nutrition, sleep and exercise, a creative outlet such as coloring promotes mental health.