College students can benefit from coloring away their stress

ASU clubs and organizations provide coloring books as a resource for stress management

Pamphlets, enthusiastic club presidents and sign-up sheets at multiple Welcome Week events this year had an odd companion: coloring books.

Jackson Dangremond, a senior majoring in health innovation and former president of Undergraduate Student Government Downtown, said the organization wanted to find a low-budget resource to help students cope with stress.

“We did a little bit of research and found that drawing can really benefit students,” Dangremond said.

Dangremond said USGD recognizes college can be a time of high anxiety for students during midterms, finals and adjusting to life on campus. In response, they looked into various services that encourage healthy coping mechanisms.

Students who have used the coloring books have really liked them and, according to Dangremond, they "often asked for more."

In addition to the coloring books provided by USGD, the ASU Ask a Biologist website provides printable coloring pages of everything from desert fruits to the anatomy of the human eye.  

Coloring books might seem like a weird solution to alleviating anxiety, however science has shown that it can be beneficial and even have meditative properties.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, geometric mandala patterns were found to diminish anxiety levels by inducing subjects into a meditative state.

After one week of daily coloring, participants demonstrated a decrease in both anxiety and depression levels, according to another study conducted by University of Otago researchers in 2017.

In addition to coloring books, there are many resources available for students in the counseling department and on the Live Well @ ASU page to help students cope with stress.

Lanie Smith, a vitality coach and registered art therapist at Integrative Art Therapy, experiences the benefits of art therapy on a daily basis.

“It is tapping into a different part of the brain, so that they are able to communicate what they might not have been able to put into words,” Smith said.

Smith said she can see a difference when a person who is apprehensive to counseling therapy tries coloring and art therapy.  

“It can take some of the pressure off, and it can make therapy even safer,” Smith said. “You don’t have to be an artist to benefit from art therapy.” 

Kelly Holland, a freshman studying interior design, can attest to the claims about the benefits of coloring and art therapy. During a hospital stay, a friend brought her a coloring book to help alleviate anxiety. Holland said the coloring book helped her to relax during her visit. 

“(Coloring) was always very therapeutic, to make something my own little reality on paper,” Holland said. “If I’m in a mood or feeling a lot of feelings, I can draw my frustrations out.”

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