How boomers can color their way to relaxation

Here’s a childhood memory we had kind of lost: Crayolas, coloring pencils, coloring books. But blogger Donna Hull of Stevensville, Montana, hasn’t lost those memories. To the contrary, she has written about them in a book called Coloring the West: An Adult Coloring Book for Travelers. And now she writes about them for BoomerCafé, with a good piece of advice: Color your way to relaxation.

Was your boomer childhood filled with coloring books and boxes of Crayola crayons? Remember the first time you colored within the lines? I’m guessing that your mother posted the page on the kitchen refrigerator.

Author and artist Donna Hull

Author and artist Donna Hull

Fast forward to 2016. Did you know that coloring for adults has become the latest craze? There’s more to the hobby than the pride of keeping colorful pencils within the lines.

A recent study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that hobbies, including coloring, relieve stress and sadness. And anecdotal evidence claims that adult coloring lowers the heart rate (and you thought that required heavy exercise). There are even claims that the hobby puts users in a state similar to meditation, which is a bonus for those of us who have never been able to master that art.


When I color, my mind doesn’t wander to what I’m cooking for dinner or whether I’m really going to lose those five pounds before my son’s wedding. The simple act of choosing colors, then spreading them across a design, is all-encompassing. My mind doesn’t have room to think about anything else. Coloring actually gives my busy brain a rest.

You can find coloring books that focus on geometric designs, like Mandalas, or with pages that reveal a secret surprise once colored, or books that let you create scenes from your favorite travel memories.


I find that the portability of coloring — all you need is a book, coloring pencils, a sharpener, and blending pencils — allows me to relieve stress no matter where I am. If I’m due for a long wait in the doctor’s office, out come the coloring pencils. The practice is especially good for relieving travel stress. Now, plane delays, or long international flights, aren’t so tedious; in fact, I look forward to the extra time for coloring.


Coloring books are available in bookstores, hobby shops, or at your favorite online store (you know the one I mean). And to prove my point about coloring being a traveler’s friend, I recently saw a selection at a convenience store in the Los Angeles airport.

So return to a favorite childhood pastime that allows your inner artist to soothe away tension. And don’t forget to post those finished pages on the kitchen refrigerator door for all to see.


  1. I’ve been a graphic designer for more than 35 years, and “back in the old days” we made maps by hand with pen and ink, and prismacolor pencil crayons. I used to really enjoy the relaxing days listening to the radio while filling in the colors.

  2. Loved this post, Donna, thank you. I remember standing in a children’s book aisle at Target about 10 years ago, wishing there were such things as adult coloring books and thinking what a good idea that would be. Another “missed opportunity” for a booming business 🙂 I now have 3 of my own and LOVE playing in them…so relaxing and rewarding!

    1. So glad that you’ve rediscovered coloring, Marcia. Aren’t they fun? Hope you’ll check out my Coloring the West book. It’s a little different from the current selections of adult coloring books.

  3. Maps by hand, Shelley? You have my admiration. I found that reading on my iPad at night before bed was robbing my quality sleep. Now I relax by coloring before bedtime. It really does quiet the brain.

  4. YES! I have been coloring mandalas since October 2015 and loving every minute of it! Did you know Carl Jung used to have his patients color mandalas to help them access their unconscious? One look at my latest creation shows me exactly where my mind is at. I think I’ll be coloring for a long time!

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