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Since October, I have joined the mass group of adults who color as a hobby. A dear friend of mine that I’ve known since high school mentioned that she colors because she finds it helps reduce her anxiety and finds it to be calming.

I decided to color myself because I enjoyed coloring as a child and figured it would benefit me greatly. As someone who has no artistic ability, I figured it would be a good way to express myself artistically and help keep my stress at bay.

And oh, how I’ve come to really enjoy doing it.

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Coloring has helped me in ways I didn’t expect it to. Not only has it calmed me down and reduced my stress, coloring has also helped take my mind off of the negative thoughts that plague my mind and refocused my attention onto creating something beautiful with my hands.

Coloring is an activity that allows you to simply focus on what’s happening at that moment, pushing other thoughts, fears and anxieties to the side, which creates a calming, stress-relieving effect, according to Everyday Health, a company whose goal is to empower and inspire people to live their healthiest lives every day. Instead of focusing on your fears and anxieties, you are focusing on creating a beautiful picture that you will be proud of.

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Coloring has allowed me to express myself artistically. While I know that coloring is nothing like creating your own masterpiece, coloring has allowed me to create my own work of art in a way that I see fit without having to stress over all of the tiny details. It distracts me from my own troubled thoughts and focus on completing something beautiful.

Another health benefit to coloring is that it improves your mental health. Among people with major depression, those who have the personality trait “openness” and other characteristics such as artistic, dreamy, imaginative, adventurous and unconventional respond better to treatment, according to Everyday Health. These findings suggest that people should go against convention while coloring and go outside of the lines.

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Ways that I try and go against convention when I color is using colors you normally wouldn’t use when coloring a certain object or creature. For example, my first picture in this post of the hummingbirds goes against the convention of what color hummingbirds are supposed to be because not only do I use the color blue for them, but I also used green and red too for some of the hummingbirds I colored. So instead of coloring outside of the lines, I get creative with the colors I use to create a coloring page that looks uniquely beautiful.

Coloring has become a really enjoyable activity to me. An activity that I know I will continue doing in the months to come. If you don’t color already, please try it and see if it tickles your fancy. Let your artistic side out and see what you can create with the use of your hands and crayons.