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Penn State Student Explains Why Adult Coloring Books Are Actually Awesome

With another semester underway, students may soon find themselves caught up in the hustle and bustle of class and homework, or drowning in mounds of formula sheets and essays. With numbers and words being thrown at us everyday, is there anyway to totally de-stress and let our creative juices flow? According to Penn State student Jordan Gaines Lewis, coloring in an adult coloring book is the perfect way to express your creativity without adding any extra stress.

Lewis is a neuroscience Ph.D. student studying sleep in the College of Medicine. She recently wrote a piece for “The Science of Us,” a branch of New York Magazine, when she decided to look into “the allure of the adult coloring book.” According to Lewis, adult coloring books boosted print-book sales in the last year, and five of Amazon’s top 15 best-selling books are actually coloring books. Lewis believes that there is a psychological attraction that adults have to coloring books, despite the real lack of creativity involved.

“I’ve always had a penchant for making new things from scratch — painting, knitting, writing, drawing, baking,” Lewis wrote. “But with my coloring book, I’m not really creating anything. The designs are already on the page — I’m just filling in the white spots. And yet the activity is just as soothing to my mind as my more traditionally ‘creative’ hobbies.”

After looking into several studies, including this survey sponsored by Adobe in 2012, she found that adult coloring may help those not exercising their creative potential “add some more color into their lives,” as well reduce stress and improve self-control.

“Our prefrontal cortex is responsible for coordinating thousands of decisions each day, from which socks we should wear to life-altering relationship and career choices,” Lewis wrote. “As an unconscious response to this so-called daily ‘decision fatigue,’ making a series of small, inconsequential decisions may give us a refreshing sense of self-control after a long day of big, important ones.”

In addition to her extensive research, the student-turned-science-writer included her own experiences with adult coloring, and why it’s so great.

“A few nights a week, I look forward to curling up on the couch with my ever-growing collection of colored pencils, tuning in to the latest episode of Serial, and scribbling away at mandalas and Harry Potters — but I still find the trend strange.” Still, she knows that coloring books are a hot trend nowadays, and even though it might be a more insignificant and silly outlet, it can also be a therapeutic way to get creative and give our brains a break.

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About the Author

Gabriela Stevenson

Gabriela is a senior majoring in print and digital journalism and Onward State's former student life editor. She is from Norristown, PA, which she normally refers to as "30 minutes outside of Philadelphia" (she looked up the exact driving time). She enjoys really enjoys eating cereal at night, in case you were wondering. To contact Gabriela, e-mail her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @GabiStevenson if you want to feel young again.

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