The psychology behind those adult coloring books

One of the hottest gifts this holiday season is so low tech you don't even need a battery - adult coloring books.

"It's the big buzz this year; everybody's after a coloring book! They all think it's going to change their lives or just provide a gift for someone who's hard to buy for," says Mary Liz Curtin from the store Leon and Lulu in Clawson. 

The designs are way more intricate and the colored pencils may be more vibrant but after that, the coloring you did in kindergarten now somehow feels like art therapy.

"It takes you out of yourself and gives you something to concentrate on; it's not as scary as thinking, 'Okay, I'm going to sit down and meditate,' but you do. You really pay attention to getting it within the lines," Curtin says.

"It gives them a chance to relax; it gives them a chance to be creative," says psychiatrist Dr. Howard Belkin. He admits, too, that there are therapeutic benefits.

"It allows people to forget about what's happening on the day-in-day-out basis and do something that's repetitious, that's fun, that's historical, that's something that they used to do, and it gives them time to focus on an activity that doesn't take a lot of thinking but it gives them creativity," he says.

Coloring books have been around since the 1800s but perhaps this fad points to an often overlooked fact: coloring uses both sides of our brain, problem solving and fine motor skills.

"I do think it's going to be the beginning of more craft things and more people doing stuff with their hands and things that are not computer related," Curtin says.

You can find these coloring books at big stores or specialty shops like Leon and Lulu. The beauty of this gift is that it can be really inexpensive and for the person who could use a little stress reduction, it might be the perfect present.

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