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Several of the staff here at Catalyst Ranch have become enamored of coloring books in the past few months. They happily spend a few hours a week coloring in intricate illustrations. It helps them clear their minds and relieves stress. Which is why we decided that for the 2016 Catalyst Ranch Calendar, we would engage an artist (MJ Ernst) to create 12 images which our clients can color in (or not). Obviously we aren’t alone as just this past Monday, The Chicago Tribune published an article titled “Adults coloring to relieve stress, have fun.”

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Fans say coloring is an easy and pleasurable way to reduce stress and focus the mind.

“It’s a perfect antidote to my brain going on and on,” said Sister Melanie Paradis, a Wheaton Franciscan sister who brings coloring books on religious retreats. “We’ve got so much coming at us all the time; it’s nice to be mindful.”

The testimonials are supported by science. A 2005 study conducted at Knox College and published in Art Therapy, the journal of the American Art Therapy Association, found that coloring a mandala — a circular form associated with meditation and spiritual transformation — or a plaid design for 20 minutes decreased anxiety — and that free-form drawing did not.

It was so effective, the study concluded, that coloring might be able to ease test-taking anxiety or fear of flying.

The key was coloring designs with structure, said Tim Kasser, professor and chair of psychology at Knox College and co-author of the study with Nancy Curry, a senior who conceived it. Anxiety is marked by feeling of chaos, he said. Meditation is successful at reducing anxiety partly because it is practiced with structured activities like chanting, mindful breathing or moving rosary beads.

Similarly, “we think that the structure of the mandala and the plaid design sort of countered that unstructured feeling by giving people something to focus their attention on,” he said.

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We hope you agree once you have a chance to tackle the beautiful illustration for the month of January. The artist has even left you an empty space on the canvas where you can make your own individual addition to what she’s created. Now that’s true artistic collaboration at work!

We’d love to hear from you if you are an Adult Colorer and not afraid to admit it. Share some of your best work with us.

To read the full article:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-adult-coloring-books-met-20151129-story.html.