Adult Coloring Books: The Art of Calm Whether they’re lined up against the shelves at the local bookstore or smattered brightly across your Facebook feed, you’ve probably seen them—adult coloring books. Exactly what it sounds like, these books are similar to the ones you might remember from childhood, except now a little more complex in design and form to appeal to an adult audience. For the last year, they’ve been getting a lot of press, topping many a best-seller list; and the coloring phenomenon has been the source of much criticism and praise. So… what’s the deal? Could adult coloring be beneficial to you?

Art Therapy vs. Therapeutic Coloring

Many who have experienced the calming effects of adult coloring have taken to referring to the practice as “art therapy.” However, that term is traditionally used to describe a mental health treatment facilitated by a professional art therapist who is trained in visual art as well as psychology and counseling techniques. Pretty different than coloring, right? But that doesn't mean there aren't benefits.

The Effects of Adult Coloring

In today’s day and age, many people find it hard to switch off their thoughts. Technology makes us so accessible to everything—work, other people, obligations—and that’s not a bad thing, but sometimes it can get overwhelming. It’s perfectly OK to take a break. Recently, coloring has become one of the most popular methods of relaxing.

For those with a lot of stress in their lives, or people suffering with anxiety, PTSD, ADHD or other struggles, adult coloring encourages concentration and mindfulness, allowing the brain to focus on one particular task at a time. People find the structure helpful for focus and engagement. This attention to detail, whether shape, size or color, impacts the same part of the brain that may stop anxiety-based imagery. Basically, it takes all the things a person may not like picturing or thinking about and helps them refocus on a more visually appealing, comfortable task. Studies also show that such attention to patterns and can make a positive, calming impact on heart rate and brain waves similar to that of meditation.

Adult Coloring Books: The Art of Calm

Will it Work for You?

It’s hard to say. What some people find calming or helpful for focusing, others don’t. But if it sounds like something you might be interested in, there are plenty of adult coloring books available for purchase in stores and online. If you’re not interested in buying a book and just want to try it out, take to Google! There are plenty of artists online offering free adult coloring pages you can download and print to test.

Other Options to Consider

Don’t see yourself coloring? That’s perfectly fine! Here are plenty of other activities that can render a similar effect.

  • Listening to music
  • Knitting or cross-stitching
  • Dancing
  • Gardening
  • Reading
  • Going for a walk
  • Home repair