A Much Too Long (like This Title) List of Place- and Culture-Themed Coloring Books for Adults and Colorists of All Ages (but It Could Be a Whole Lot Longer)

November 25, 2015 § 8 Comments

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OK, here’s the deal. Since adult coloring books are all the rage now, and because there are studies that show that coloring can reduce anxiety and stress, I decided I’d search Amazon to see what titles I could come up with on the topics of travel, places, cultures, and the like.

After I came up with 30 or so, I was feeling pretty good about myself, but then a few things happened. First, my tendency to be obsessive about lists kicked in and I felt the need to make my list not just longer, but all-inclusive. Then I realized that if I wanted to include designs and patterns (Indian, Celtic, Arabic, etc.) I’d never be done, so I eliminated them, as much as it pained me . . . because a lot of those book are pretty cool. But just when my list seemed more manageable, I discovered the whole library of Dover coloring books. I was bombarded with all their history-themed offerings, and I had to decide what made a coloring book “adult” rather than “for kids.” I put some more titles in, left some out (more pain), and expanded my category from adults to “colorists,” a term I see thrown around by publishers. I figure it means people who take their coloring seriously, even as they use it to wind down, people who are more-mature colorers who choose detailed pictures that can accommodate sharpened pencils, not just fat Crayons: colorists. Of course detailed pictures would include all those intricate designs and patterns. . . . Did I mention how much it pains me to leave them out?

So after all that, here’s the list I’ve come up with. It’s nearly 200 entries long, and it’s caused me no small amount of anxiety to put it together. It wasn’t just finding them all, but also arranging them (I gave up on working too hard on that), trying to get all the links straight, and realizing that my list is outdated before I hit the publish button.

What I’m trying to say is that my efforts to put together an exhaustive list have left me exhausted . . . and stressed.

I guess I need to order a coloring book so I can relax. Now, what about colored pencils? Is 24 enough, or should I go with 500?

 

Global

 

Cities

 

Asia

 

Latin America

 

Europe

 

North America/United States

 

Africa

 

Polynesia

 

Antarctica

[photo: “Crayons de couleur,” by Nicolas Buffler, used under a Creative Commons license]

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Tea Has Charms to Sooth the Savage Breast

October 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

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East Asian tea ceremonies. Chai in India. Iced tea in the US. North African mint tea. Tea time in the UK.

Tea is a cherished part of cultures around the globe. But why?

One reason is its standing as a stress reliever.

“Would you like to join me for a cup of tea?” Just the invitation itself sounds soothing. Though science can’t explain all the whys, researchers have been able to bolster tea’s reputation as a cure for stress.

One study, published in the journal Psychopharmacology in 2006 shows the effects of black tea on stress. In it, researchers from University College London removed tea, coffee, and caffeinated beverages from the diets of 75 men. They then gave them caffeinated fruit mixtures to drink four times a day for six weeks. For some, the drink was a placebo, but for others, it contained the active ingredients of black tea.

After subjecting the groups to stress-inducing situations, the researchers found that the “tea” drinking group, when compared to the placebo group, had lower levels of the stress-hormone cortisol. Those participants also reported higher levels of relaxation during the recovery period and showed lower levels of blood platelet activation, which is associated with the risk of heart attacks.

Andrew Steptoe of UCL says,

We do not know what ingredients of tea were responsible for these effects on stress recovery and relaxation. Tea is chemically very complex, with many different ingredients. Ingredients such as catechins, polyphenols, flavonoids and amino acids have been found to have effects on neurotransmitters in the brain, but we cannot tell from this research which ones produced the differences.

Nevertheless, our study suggests that drinking black tea may speed up our recovery from the daily stresses in life. Although it does not appear to reduce the actual levels of stress we experience, tea does seem to have a greater effect in bringing stress hormone levels back to normal. This has important health implications, because slow recovery following acute stress has been associated with a greater risk of chronic illnesses such as coronary heart disease.

Nada Milosavljevic, of the Harvard Medical School, writing at The Daily Tea, describes two possible ingredients that could lead to stress reduction. One is L-theanine, an amino acid found only in tea, which can decrease one’s heart rate and lessen the sympathetic response to stressors. It also increases the brain’s levels of dopamine and serotonin.

And there are polyphenol antioxidant catechins. Polyphenols, Milosavljevic writes, “positively affect neurotransmitters in the brain, making it easier to maintain mental balance.”

Psychologists Malcolm Cross and Rita Michaels, of City University London, say that tea’s calming effects are not just chemical, but cultural as well. In their study, commissioned by Direct Line insurance, they gave 42 individuals a stress-inducing task, then served half of them a cup of tea and half of them a glass of water. While the water group reported elevated stress levels, the tea group’s levels of stress were even lower than before the stress activity.

Some in the tea group said that they saw drinking the tea as something relaxing that marked a break from their anxiety. Some reported feeling “cared for” by those who prepared the tea for them. And the group as a whole conversed with the tea maker and fellow tea drinkers—while the water group drank in silence.

Cross tells The Telegraph,

This study shows that the social psychological aspects of tea enhance the effects of its chemical make-up on our bodies and brains. It’s possible that this culturally rooted, symbiotic function between mind and body explains why Britons instinctively turn to tea in times of need.

Put simply, the findings illustrate what most mothers would tell us: if you’re stressed, anxious or just feeling blue, make yourself a nice calming brew.

(Andrew Steptoe, et al., “The Effects of Tea on Psychophysiological Stress Responsivity and Post-Stress Recovery: A randomized Double-Blind Trial,” Psychopharmacology, January 2007; “Black Tea Soothes Away Stress,” University College London, July 16, 2010; Nada Milosavljevic, “An Antidote to Stress: Calming Teas & Tisanes,” The Daily Tea, August 5 2014; Malcolm Cross and Rita Michaels, “The Social Psychological Effects of Tea Consumption on Stress: Executive Summary,” 2009; Richard Alleyne, “A Cup of Tea Really Can Help Reduce Stress at Times of Crisis, Claim Scientists,” The Telegraph, August 13, 2009)

[photo: “Tea Time,” by Taidoh, used under a Creative Commons license]

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