Feeling Blue? Here Are 5 Ways Adult Coloring Can Help With Seasonal Depression
Here’s how adult coloring can help you beat the winter blues (tropical vacation not required).
By Jasmine Lim
Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt your mood and energy start to dip as soon as the days get colder and nights get longer. With fewer hours of daylight, it’s easy for our mental health to take a hit this time of year—especially if you suffer from symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (otherwise known as SAD—fitting, right?). Luckily, there are many ways to help alleviate those symptoms, including one of our favorite activities: adult coloring.
While experts don’t have one definitive answer as to what causes the wintertime blues, some think seasonal affective disorder and its depression-like symptoms are triggered by a lack of sunlight. This can disrupt our levels of serotonin, the chemical in our brains that helps regulate mood, sleep, and feelings of well-being. While only 20 percent of the U.S. population is clinically diagnosed with SAD, anyone can experience less severe symptoms of the winter blues including stress, lack of energy, and mood changes.
So how can adult coloring help beat the winter woes? Research ties this creative activity to both mental and physical benefits thanks to its self-soothing qualities. Here are five expert-backed reasons why:
1. Coloring can help manage stress and anxiety.
The act of coloring itself can be a therapeutic experience: It relaxes our brains and bodies, sending us into a meditative and stress-free state of mind. Plus, focusing on the simple act of bringing pencil to paper can help lower anxieties because the outcome of coloring is predictable and safe. “When you have things you can predict will happen in a certain way [such as coloring or knitting], it’s calming to us,” says neuroscientist and coloring expert Dr. Stan Rodski.
2. Coloring can help us refocus attention and concentration.
Moodiness brought on by SAD can often cloud our ability to concentrate throughout the day. Fortunately, coloring has a way of helping us focus by stimulating both hemispheres of our brains. Let us explain: When you start working on a coloring page, you’re figuring out color choices and visual balance with your right brain while also analyzing the details and space of a coloring page with the left brain. (A great reason to stop and take that much-needed coloring break if you’re struggling to focus at work!)
3. Coloring can help replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
If you find yourself feeling more negativity as the seasons change, coloring may be able to help you combat those negative thoughts. In fact, coloring can temporarily free these thoughts and emotions by replacing them with more pleasant ones. When you color, you allow yourself to concentrate on the calming activity and say buh-bye to any invasive thoughts.
4. Coloring can help combat feelings of fatigue (and help get you better sleep!).
Similar to meditation, the act of coloring can be therapeutic by helping you become more relaxed and calm. So incorporating coloring into your routine right before bedtime will help encourage a restful and soothing space for better sleep.
5. Coloring with bright and rich colors can energize and lift spirits.
When it comes to mental health, colors may play a significant role in our emotions and have the potential to improve mood, too. How? Bright and saturated colors are said to be naturally energizing which may help evoke positive emotions and generally have a profound impact on our moods. Choose vibrant colors for your next coloring project, and you may just be able to help reduce those feelings of sadness caused by the winter blues!
To beat the seasonal slumps, try these easy tips to reap the benefits of coloring for yourself:
- Find the right space to color in.
Maybe it’s your favorite coffee shop, a small nook in your home, or in front of a roaring fire. Find wherever it is you feel happy and most comfortable, and color away.
- Unplug from technology.
Make it a point to put the phone or computer away for however long you decide to color. Let your mind wander as you spend quality alone time focusing on what’s in front of you without pesky disturbances and interruptions. (Take off that smartwatch, too!)
- Make it a daily routine.
We know how crazy busy life can get, but it’s important to take time out of each day to indulge in a few precious minutes of self-care. Whether it’s a short coloring break at work or right before bed, squeeze in enough time to really gain the benefits of coloring each day.
Our hope is that the winter blues are easier to manage with the help of this mood-boosting (and fun!) activity. Whether you gain a little bit of happiness by coloring for a few minutes a day or with another activity you find joy in—spend a little extra time this season to take care of your mental health and wellness.
It’s important to note that adult coloring isn’t an official medical treatment for SAD, and we’re definitely not doctors. If you think you might be suffering from seasonal depression, make a visit to the doc for a professional’s opinion.