My friend Justine Brooks Froelker is talking adult coloring books. She is one of those wise women who has learned the value of self-care and she models it for others. I pay particular to attention to Justine’s blog posts and articles on mental health practices because 1) She’s a licensed professional counselor and a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator (based on the research of Brené Brown) working in private practice, and 2) She’s an amazing advocate for speaking shame and learning to thrive after life doesn’t turn out how you hoped, dreamed and planned.
Newer research* is showing that when you color for just 5-10 minutes, your brain looks like you just meditated for 5-10 minutes.
It seems Justine is not alone. In December 2015, nine of the most popular books on Amazon were adult coloring books. And last month, many of the more popular coloring books were the best sellers in their respective categories on Amazon.
All this colorful talk prompted me to ask Justine to share her thoughts on this trend.
1) What are the benefits of coloring in an adult coloring book?
Newer research* is showing that when you color for just 5-10 minutes, your brain looks like you just meditated for 5-10 minutes. I am a lot more likely to get you to try coloring than meditation. I also think it stretches our creativity muscle which is also great for our wellbeing.
2) Do you recommend them to clients? If so, how/why/when?
It is almost always one of the first things I recommend to my clients, that AND A gratitude journal before bed. These are also things I practice myself.
3) When did the trend of adult coloring books get started?
I started teaching adult coloring to my clients 4-5 years ago, but it seems to have taken off in the media quite a bit in the last year or so.
4) Why do you think it has taken off?
I think people are tired of being sick and tired. Coloring in adult coloring books provides a simple and affordable way to truly change your wellbeing for the better. I also think there is this piece that some of my clients think it’s so weird that it could never work so they do it just to prove me wrong.
5) For women who are in the fiftiness demographic, do you have any specific advice/thoughts on this topic?
I think coloring is an important piece of our self-care routine. I still recommend meditating on top of it, coloring just happens to be a great place to begin. Everyone could benefit from a daily coloring practice, no matter age or gender. I think especially women, taking the time to sit down and fill themselves up is imperative to their health, happiness and wellbeing.
6) Can these coloring books spark creativity? If so, how/why? Research does show that unused creativity is not benign
Research does show that unused creativity is not benign
Absolutely! Picking the colors, playing with shading, choosing your medium is all part of our creative muscle. As Brene Brown says, there are no such things as creative and non-creative people. And, research does show that unused creativity is not benign.
7) Is coloring in one of these books like art therapy?
Coloring in an adult coloring book is definitely NOT art therapy. It is simply a tool in our self-care toolbox that can greatly improve one’s wellbeing. Art therapy is a very specific and helpful type of therapy to help people with a myriad of issues.
8) How do you use adult coloring books yourself or with clients?
I ask for my clients to color for at least 5-10 minutes a day. No need to finish a page. Just sit down and color, preferably with no TV and phone checking. I do play music while I color. Watch that you don’t color for hours; this can too easily turn into numbing versus comfort, which is not self-care.
9) Tell me a little about your self-care routine.
Every morning I get up early, very early. First thing I do is meditate. (Here are my favorite ways to meditate). Then I workout. Next, I color for about 10 minutes while listening to music and drinking my breakfast smoothie, followed by scripture, writing down gratitude, free writing and personal growth reading. Some days, I get to spend a couple hours doing this routine, other days, it’s just 5 minutes at each activity. Then, every night before bed, I read scripture, write in a journal including a gratitude journal and read 3 to 10 pages of a real book (no technology in bed). I recommend that you find 3-5 things to do in the same order each morning and each night before bed to practice great self-care.
10) Suggestions on picking an adult coloring book?
I usually ask my clients to start with an adult coloring rather than picking up the Disney princess one – the coloring books with mandalas, quotes or nature scenes.
11) Your personal favorites?
My absolute favorites are anything by Johanna Basford.
12) Anything else you want to mention?
Give me 21 days of coloring for 5-10 minutes at least 5 days a week, and at the very least, you will have some pretty pictures to give to people.
** This article about adult coloring books includes some of the research to which Justine is referring. http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2015/06/11/413603343/for-adults-coloring-invites-creativity-and-brings-comfort
Justine Brooks Froelker is a Licensed Professional Counselor and an author of the book and blog, Ever Upward. Her most recent book, The Mother of Second Chances, came out in April of 2017. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband Chad and their three dogs. She enjoys her childFULL life by spending time with friends and family, practicing creative self-care, laughing (sometimes at herself) and building butterfly gardens on her acre of land, which has made her an accidental monarch butterfly farmer.
The following adult coloring books make great gifts. They are also the perfect self-gift to combat stress at anytime of year!
Johanna’s Christmas: A Festive Coloring Book for Adults — Great Christmas gift
Seasons Adult Coloring Book Set With Colored Pencils And Pencil Sharpener Included: Color Your Way To Calm (Color With Music) – A book with a sent of colored pencils.
Stabilo Point 68 30-color Metal Tin Set – A nice set of pens.
Editor’s note: if you purchase through the above links, Fiftiness will make a small profit for Amazon for that purchase. For that, we thank you. And please note that either Justine or one of us at Fiftiness have used the products we are recommending, so you can trust that our recommendations are sincere.