A woman holding an oversized crayon drawing. Light rays are bursting from the tip.

Just Color It: 6 Benefits of Coloring for Individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis

I can remember, from an early age, loving to color. I would spend hours upon hours choosing the perfect colors for my picture. Absolutely, I would get lost in my colorings. I colored all the time.

When I looked back at my colorings, I could often see what mood I was in by the colors I used. For me, if I was sad, I used lots of shades of blue. When I was happy, I used lots of shades of yellow, orange, and green. When I was mad and angry, lots of reds, maroons, and black colors.  

As the years passed, I got away from coloring. Not exactly sure why - I guess I just got busy and maybe even thought of it as an activity that young children do.

Trying out adult coloring

I got back into coloring about 5 years ago. I can tell you that coloring is just not for kids. Coloring provides a lot of benefits to our overall health. They have actual adult coloring books that I have purchased.

The great thing is there are coloring books that have very little detail in the pictures and those books that have a lot of details. Depending on how my hands are working on any given day, I can switch up the level of detail of the picture I color.

6 benefits of adult coloring for RA

1. Stress relief

Coloring, for me, puts me in what I like to call my “happy zone”. It reduces my stress level, relaxes my mind. It also distracts me in a positive and creative way from my RA and the accompanying chronic pain.

2. Improves hand mobility and decreases hand stiffness

I have found that coloring on a regular basis helps keep my range of motion in my hands and wrist in a good place. It helps alleviate the hand stiffness I feel on a daily basis. I use crayons, pencils, and markers of varying sizes. Depending on any given day, my grip abilities change. So, this gives me options.

On really bad hand grip days, I poke my colored pencils through a tennis ball. When you do that, you don’t have to have much hand grip or range of motion to be able to color. It’s a quick and cheap adaptation for your colored pencil.

3. A sense of accomplishment and well-being

On those days when my body is unable to do a whole lot, I am able to look at my coloring with a sense of accomplishment.

4. No travel required

Let’s be honest: there are days that my RA affects my body to the point that I am unable to physically leave my house. What I love the most about coloring is that I can do it right from the comfort of my own home. Honestly, on those bad days, I can color right from my own couch.

5. Constructive use of time

Coloring daily helps me to constructively use up parts of my day.

6. Feel good hormones

Coloring is a great activity because it allows me to use both sides of my brain to complete the activity. When I am coloring, I tend to relax and go into my “happy zone.” One reason for this is that my brain releases chemicals that makes me feel good.

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