BY VICTORIA PIGNATELLI
Stress. It’s an ailment that many suffer from, and do not have an outlet to relieve it. Of course, there are stress balls that one can squeeze to relieve tension, there is an offer of counseling, and various other forms of relief. However, some afflicted persons either do not have the time or finances to invest in certain forms of stress relief. In more recent news, many adults and students have turned to a childhood pastime: coloring.
Coloring is gaining momentum as one of the top methods for stress relief and calming one’s self in the world. For many students, it offers an outlet to take a step back and simply focus on the colors in the space of a page.
“I use coloring books to zone out,” said Karlie Wertheimer, a mathematics student at the County College of Morris. “They’re my peaceful meditation in a busy, frenzy of a day. I don’t have to think about numbers, graphs or anything.”
In France, the United Kingdom and here in the United States, coloring for adults is growing as an art. Within the last year, there has been an exponential growth on coloring books being printed for the adult market.
Artists like Johanna Basford have stirred up a perfect storm in creating intricate designs for both young and old to fill in with color. Her designs have consistently sold out on Amazon and are bestsellers at Barnes & Noble. Basford’s works like “Enchanted Forest,” “Lost Ocean,” and “Secret Garden” have consistently outsold her competition in the newly lucrative market of more complicated coloring books.
There have been several studies conducted on the positive effects of coloring in terms of relieving stress, and calming the mind and body. Therapists have almost entirely agreed that coloring is an effective form of art therapy. In an article from Discovery News, psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala explains that coloring can lower the activity of stress hormones which can provide a calming effect on a person’s state of being. Stress is evolving to be a large problem in the average person’s life. Particularly in the life of a college student, stress is an issue that most students deal with on a daily basis.
Of course, coloring may seem like a strange idea to many people afflicted with stress, but, in actual practice many find it to be a calming and fun exercise to ease tensions from long and tiring days.
“My life is full of stress, and I can’t help but look for new ways to ease the tension I have every day,” says Baylee Shoenfeld, an English major at CCM. “I have a little box of my coloring supplies, and whenever I feel knots building up in my shoulders, I reach for my colored pencils, my books, and I’m on my way to a mindless afternoon.”
For college students like Shoenfeld, mindlessness and escape are important in terms of their ways to relieve stress.
“I’m obsessed with my coloring books, I’ve got Star Wars, Disney Princess; you name it, I’ve got it,” said Abby Robertson, coloring book enthusiast and History student at William Paterson University. “I need them, because between my job and classes I barely have a moment to breathe and just think about nothing. Coloring gives me the opportunity to relax, and just ease my mind for a while.”
College students are under more stress than ever. Coloring seems to be a widely spreading activity that promotes relaxation and and a sense of calmness. For a growing trend among stressed out individuals, coloring to relieve stress is a tried and praised activity, accessible for anybody with a colored pencil and paper.