UNL students find friends and fun in coloring club

coloring club photo

By Molly Chapple, NewsNetNebraska

Drop your crayons and colored pencils and move out of the way, kids! Coloring books have grown up, and the trend of adults using coloring as a way to relax and relieve stress is sweeping the nation, including the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Mary Ann Morrison formed the the UNL Coloring Club because coloring had become a social event for her and her friends in Abel Hall. One of those friends who helped form the club was Lukas Ziemba, a freshman journalism and broadcasting major.

“We had originally just sat as a group and colored,” Ziemba said. “We liked to get together every couple of days and color as a group. So, Mary Ann took it to student resources and got it recognized as a club.”

The group was formed at the beginning of the fall 2015 semester. It began with a small group of friends, but now includes 25 members.

“We encourage newcomers,” Ziemba said. “We accept all sorts of people. You really just get to be yourself and put yourself on a piece of paper, and that’s really awesome.”

coloring club member

Coloring Club member Sydney Franko colors in an intricate design.

The coloring book craze started in 2013 when illustrator Johanna Basford published the book “Secret Garden,” which contained black and white drawings of trees, animals and intricate designs. The book has sold nearly 6 million copies since its release. Other publishers have followed its lead, including Crayola which recently published its new line of coloring books, “Color Escapes Adult Coloring Kits.”

Coloring helps create a relaxing mindset, and many adults use coloring to relieve stress. According to psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala, coloring provides relaxation, which in turn lowers the activity of the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for controlling our emotions.

Dr. Kay Konz, a mental health practitioner at Lincoln Behavioral Health Clinic, said coloring is an activity that “can distract from anxiety, but not over-tax the brain.”

“Coloring is a rhythmic activity, and as such, is calming,” she said. “Just as walking and music are calming, both activities tend to lower the heart rate over time.”

color design mandala

Learn more about why Coloring Club President Mary Ann Morrison began coloring mandalas.

Morrison, a freshman marketing and gerontology major who acts as the club’s president, provides all the coloring books, but members bring their own colored pencils or markers, the preferred utensils for coloring in such intricate designs. Her favorite designs are mandalas, and she prefers the coloring books with inspirational quotes in them.

The group doesn’t have a certain day or time it meets, Morrison said, but those interested in joining the club can contact her. She sends out group messages whenever the club plans on getting together.

“Before dead week we are going to try to meet up a lot more,” she said “Because, you might be trying to study but you get stressed and need to get out of your room. So we’re going to try to make one room on the floor a room for coloring.”

But coloring isn’t just about relieving stress, Morrison said. Coloring is a way to join a group together, meet new people and help individuals learn about themselves and others, she said.

“You see how people color things that you wouldn’t color the same,” she said. “You learn people’s personalities, really.”

Lukas Ziemba talks about how coloring affects his life as a student:

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