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Adult Coloring Books: 7 Benefits of Coloring

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 11, 2021

Coloring books are no longer just for kids. Adult coloring books have grown in popularity recently. Whether you already have a coloring book or are thinking about getting one, there are quite a few benefits to coloring in your free time.  ‌

1. Relaxes Your Brain and Improves Brain Function

Coloring books are a great way to relax your brain and quiet your mind. When you’re coloring, you’re focused on the simple activity in front of you. This begins to relax your mind and keep your thoughts from intruding.

Coloring can also improve your brain's ability to function. When you’re coloring, different parts of your brain's cerebral hemispheres are activated. When you choose what colors to use, your creativity is activated. As you color forms and shapes, your logic is also activated.  

2. Induces Meditative State

Adult coloring doesn’t replace art therapy, but it can be therapeutic for some people. Some studies have shown that focusing on the complex structure of your coloring page can help put your mind into a meditative state.  

The meditative state occurs when you stop focusing on future or past worries and only focus on the present. Focusing on a singular action like coloring suspends your inner dialogue and removes negative thoughts and emotions from your mind. You'll get better at meditation the longer you practice it with coloring. 

3. Improves Motor Skills

More complex designs with smaller spaces for coloring require you to hone your hand-eye coordination and motor skills, skills you don't use when you're just scrolling on your electronics. ‌Some health professionals believe that the following activities not only engage motor skills, but can even help delay the onset of dementia:

  • Coloring
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Brainteasers

4. Improves Sleep

If you color before bed, you’re likely to sleep better than if you scrolled on your phone. Exposure to blue light from your phone or tablet can hinder your sleep quality by stopping your body's natural melatonin release. By coloring in a book before bed instead, you’re keeping electronics out of the bedroom, allowing your melatonin level to release naturally as your body gets ready for sleep. 

5. Improves Focus

Adult coloring books can also improve your focus level. Coloring activates your frontal lobe, which means that your brain is organizing and problem-solving. Regular coloring sessions allow you to relax from the day and focus on one thing.

6. Reduces Anxiety

Studies have shown that coloring can reduce anxiety in adults. Coloring for 20 minutes or more is an effective way to lower your heart rate and decrease feelings of anxiety. In the studies, coloring more intricate designs like mandalas was more effective than coloring in a plaid pattern or blank page. 

Other benefits to coloring that affect your anxiety include: 

  • Mood improvement
  • Enhanced mindfulness
  • Reduced mental health stress

If you need more help than just coloring, you can turn to a creative practitioner or art therapist to help with your anxiety, stress, or other mental health conditions. 

By coloring, you're helping more than your mind relax and function better. You're also helping your body. The stress relief from coloring helps reduce the anxiety you're feeling. When you relieve stress and tension from your body, you may decrease your risk of:

Coloring isn’t going to cure your anxiety or depression, but it can reduce the levels of anxiety and stress that can lead to depression. If coloring is an activity you enjoy, then you should practice it regularly. ‌

7. Relieves Stress

One significant benefit of coloring for adults is  stress relief. Coloring is a repetitive activity that requires attention to detail. When you're focused on the coloring, you're not paying attention to other things that may have caused stress throughout the day. 

Starting or ending your day by coloring a page out of an adult coloring book can stir up feelings of nostalgia and remind you of your childhood. This connection to a time when things were typically less stressful can also help you relax. 

Conclusion

Whether you color just for fun or to relax your mind, there’s no reason you shouldn’t try it. Coloring is for more than children. The next time you're feeling overwhelmed, take your mind off of the problem and start coloring. 

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association: "Can Coloring Mandalas Reduce Anxiety."

Beaumont Health: “Health Benefits of Coloring for Adults.”

Clay Behavioral Health Center: "It's Not Just for Kids! 5 Ways Coloring Promotes Wellness in Adults."

Cleveland Clinic: “3 Reasons Adult Coloring Can Actually Relax Your Brain.”

Mayo Clinic Health System: “Coloring is good for your health.”

Piedmont Healthcare: “Do coloring books for adults decrease stress?”

Psychology Today: “Are Adult Coloring Books Actually Helpful?”

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