Thursday, November 9, 2017

UNPOPULAR OPINION: Coloring Stresses Me Out

I’m not exactly sure when the adult coloring fad started. According this website called, which might be biased, the first adult coloring book was published in 1961. It was a satirical work called The Executive Coloring Book. It poked fun at executives. Other coloring books published in the Sixties and Seventies included 1964’s The Gay Coloring Book, which included coloring pictures like this one:

The caption says, "This is my uncle. Color him fabulous." OH. MY. GOD. argues that adult coloring books were very popular during the Sixties and Sevenries, and that they’re just coming back into vogue as things tend to do. I think the current adult coloring trend started in 2013, with the publication of Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book, which may be the most popular example of its genre.

I’m going to admit, I jumped on the adult coloring bandwagon with everyone else. I bought colored pencils and markers and a big box of crayons. I bought a coloring book called Outside the Lines: An Artist’s Coloring Book for Giant Imaginations, which inexplicably has one page that is completely black:

Uh, this is not a coloring page, guys.

Followed by a second page that was only mostly black:

Also not a coloring page.

But I didn’t just buy the one coloring book. I went overboard and bought several coloring books. Jim also bought me a couple of books. My psychiatrist at the time, who I’ll call Dr. Coloring Book, was really invested in getting me into adult coloring. He spent almost every session trying to convince me that coloring would relieve my stress and improve my anxiety, even when I told him that I was trying it and it was adding to my stress and anxiety.

I used to enjoy coloring when I was a girl. I had a big shoebox full of more than 400 crayons. I know how many there were because I got a lot of satisfaction out of counting them; even then I was rather obsessive. 

But I don’t remember it taking me forty-seven hours to color a freaking picture when I was eight years old. I bought a book of mandala coloring pages and I couldn’t find the time to finish even one of them. Some of the designs are so intricate that staying in between the lines is impossible. I spent a good ten years learning to color inside the lines, and now you give me lines that I can’t color inside? That’s freaking adulthood for you. Instead of a meditative and relaxing new hobby, I have a bunch of sloppily incomplete tasks and a feeling of mounting frustration.

So I bought some kid coloring books. One has pictures of dinosaurs, and the other has pictures of cats.

Dr. Coloring Book did not approve.


  1. It's so weird. I literally just read a post about colouring helping adults with their mental health and thinking "not me!", and then I went onto Blissful Lemon and see you post in the list! Even looking at the pictures in mindful colouring books fills me with anxiety. I'd be beating myself up if I didn't stay in the lines and cursing myself if I didn't get the colours even! So, I'm staying well away!
    Mind Over Meta

    1. What's even weirder is that I told him several active things I like to do, and he was all, "You need hobbies that aren't exercise," and I was like, there's plenty of evidence that exercise relieves depression and anxiety too?

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  5. I googled "why do some people not enjoy coloring pages?". I have felt like I'm strange. After all, this adult coloring is all the rage of late. Before even trying it I knew it would stress me out trying to get the colors to be the same one side to the other or alternating appropriately. The designs are often so tiny and repetitive I know I'd get nervous trying to color all that. After reading here that I'm not alone, I feel better. Thanks for sharing. I guess I'm not TOO weird. :)

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