Color Me Mellow classes come to Cassville

Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Kathy Daniel, of Cassville, reaches for a blue marker to color in the next portion of an elephant she is coloring, while her brother, Travis Daniel, works on a creation of his own next to her. The siblings, along with about 25 others attended an adult coloring class at the Cassville-Branch library Thursday evening, and reported feeling very relaxed and calm as a result. The class is a new concept that's gaining popularity. Julia Kilmer reporter@cassville-democrat.com

Adult coloring class helps relieve stress, increase mindfulness

How can one find inner calm and true relaxation almost instantly?

Pick up a crayon or marker and start coloring.

Kimberly Kosar, of Cassville, chooses a new color to add to a design she was coloring at the Cassville Branch Library's new adult coloring class last, Color Me Mellow,. Kosar said she came to the class not only to relax, but to help give her ideas for quilting block patterns. Julia Kilmer reporter@cassville-democrat.com

Coloring books are not just for children anymore. Something to draw with is all that is needed at an adult coloring class to melt concerns, access creativity and kick stress to the curb.

The new class, Color Me Mellow, is growing like wildfire and gives adults "permission" to color as if they were a child again, along with an outlet for relaxation and mindfulness, and the Cassville Branch Library is inviting participants to help fan the flame.

According to information supplied by the librarians, studies show that coloring allows individuals to concentrate solely on the task in front of them which, as a result, actually brings about a relaxed state similar to that of meditation.

Further, when the mind is relaxed, the body follows, releasing tension and allowing a sense of peace and well-being to just flow.

So, for those who could never quite get into meditating, coloring can provide the same benefits.

"It's used in art therapy classes," said Verna Fry, youth services at the Cassville-Branch Library. "It can help relieve stress."

Other than relaxing, spa-like music makes the library classroom feel more like a massage therapy clinic, and with only the sound of pencils on paper, the room is calm and quiet as about 25 participants of a variety of ages busy themselves coloring pictures.

Art therapists have long known coloring helps calm the mind because of its ability to increase focus and mindfulness, but Crayola decided to corner the market on that fact, launching a set of markers, colored pencils and collection of adult coloring books called "Coloring Escapes" in December.

Since the first adult coloring books were published in 2012 and 2013, researchers at John Hopkins University and mindfulness experts have suggested trying it as an alternative to meditation.

Ruth Thompson, left, Riley Burbridge, middle, and Sierra Gunter busy themselves coloring at an adult coloring class at the the Cassville-Branch Library. But this type of busyness does not lend itself to stress, but relaxation. Julia Kilmer reporter@cassville-democrat.com

Riley Burbridge, of Shell Knob, who waits tables, wasn't looking for meditation, just stress relief.

"I'm stressed a lot with work, and it helps to keep my hands busy," she said.

Friend Sierra Gunter, who invited Burbridge, said she enjoys the class.

"I love it and it's relaxing because we're focused on something," she said.

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is a mental health profession in which the process of making and creating artwork is used to explore feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem.

Kimberly Kosar, of Cassville, said her first introduction to adult coloring came at Christmas.

"My mother gave me an [adult coloring] book for Christmas," she said. "I'm using this as a means to come up with blocking patterns for ideas for quilting," she said.

Sherry Lewis paints with water colors and was enjoying the art of using shading techniques to add touches of hue to a landscape scene.

Participants need not worry about staying within the lines or if their picture is good enough. There are no rules, and adults are allowed to color their picture however they want.

"Young and old alike, the library does a lot of good things," said Ruth Thompson of Cassville, who came to the class looking for a social outlet and way to relax.

Adult coloring books can be purchased at arts and supply stores, and Walmart. Books include intricate images from a variety of subjects, some of the most popular being flowers, animals and landscapes.

The Cassville Branch Library offers Color Me Mellow once a month on Thursdays at 6 p.m. Other local libraries have adult coloring classes as well.

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