coloring book
photo: iStock
Several months ago, one of my coworkers excitedly came into the office talking about her latest hobby. "I just ordered an adult coloring book," she declared proudly. After being met with confused stares from several girls in the surrounding cubicles (myself included), she began to explain this new trend in coloring books for grown-ups, even referencing a whole segment she had seen on Good Morning America.

Apparently the new fad wasn't simply coloring. There was a whole slew of coloring books designed for adults, many of them offering a variety of templates — like water scenes and mandalas — specifically intended to reduce stress and promote relaxation. 

Related From Vivala: What I Discovered After 10 Days of Silent Meditation

In fact, the more I read into the whole science behind coloring for adults the more I became interested. According to an article in Medical Daily, coloring, like meditation, allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus on the moment. As someone who works in front of a computer all day, I was curious to see if taking up coloring would help clear my head, reduce stress, and wind down after a long workday. And because meditation had proved to be difficult for me in the past, this seemed like the perfect way to transition into a practice. 

Giddy with excitement over my potential new hobby, I decided to go online and pick up a copy of Color Me Calm, one of the many adult coloring books out there on the market. I was inclined to buy this one, however, because it was created by a board-certified art therapist based in Washington D.C., so it seemed more legit to me. I'm sure there are many other selections out there that might be just as effective, though. Here's what really happened when my adult coloring book finally arrived.

photo: Adria Valdes Greenhauff, Vivala

First up, total excitement

photo: Giphy

When my new coloring book and colored pencils arrived in the mail, I was as happy as a kid on Christmas morning. After practically ripping the package to shreds, I immediately began texting my coworker — and fellow adult colorer — selfies of me with my brand-new book and art supplies. The excitement only grew after she replied with several emoji-filled texts that included messages along the lines of "So fun!" and "You're going to love it!" 


But the excitement quickly became overwhelming

photo: Giphy

The time had come. I was about to embark on my new journey as an artist. But as I flipped through the pages of my new coloring book, I became instantly overwhelmed by all the intricate templates of geometric patterns. Where was I even supposed to start? And why were these supposed stress-relieving templates so darned intricate? This surely couldn't be a real form of relaxation. 


And slowly morphed into worry

photo: Giphy

Despite my hesitations, I decided to give it a try anyway. I tried not to overthink things, grabbed the first colored pencil I saw, and got to work on a mandala. If the Buddhist monks can get into mandalas, surely so could I, right? Things went well for about 30 seconds before the worry crept in. What the heck was I doing? I wasn't an artist. What if I sucked at coloring? My friend was surely expecting a photo of my first finished product, what if it was too embarrassing to send? Is it too soon to decide I wanted to quit?


Wait a second, was I having fun?

photo: Giphy

Much like it had when I attempted meditating, my mind raced with all kinds of thoughts. I felt like quitting, but decided I would power through, light a yummy-smelling candle, and turn on some relaxing music (Adele, anyone?) instead. Then, about three songs in, something crazy happened: I started to feel myself decompressing. My mind slowed down and I went from sitting up straight with my legs Indian-style, to being sprawled across my bed in total coloring heaven. 

Related From Vivala: 6 Activities to Decompress If You're Suffering From Success


Fun turned into tired

photo: Giphy

After about an hour of coloring bliss, I was almost finished with my first mandala. My eyes were tired of focusing and my wrist was beginning to cramp up (it's so sad that typing on a computer all day has left me with virtually no muscles in my hands). I wanted to call it a day, but I was too close to throw in the towel now. I would finish.


And then . . . success!

photo: Giphy

I had done it. I had finished the first coloring template from my book, and I had to admit, it looked pretty good. I was so proud of my artwork, I couldn't help but to take to Instagram to toot my own horn. 


I became hopeful that this whole coloring thing could work

photo: Giphy

I've been adult-coloring for about three weeks now, and while I'm not entirely sure if it's helped me in reducing my overall stress, I'm hopeful that I'll see more significant results as I continue with it as a regular practice. Coloring has challenged me to get out of my own head and get lost in something that doesn't live on the Internet. And in today's technology-saturated world, that's definitely a pleasant escape.