5 Ways Coloring Helps Relieve Stress and Anxiety

multiple colored pencil on adult coloring page

Adult colouring books are everywhere - pages filled with empty patterns of mandalas, floral, animals and other abstract designs. Many of you would have heard the phenomenon that adults like colouring books. It’s even been reported in the news. But why exactly is colouring, an activity once exclusively reserved for children, considered therapeutic? How does it help reduce stress and anxiety? What does it do to your brain for you to feel such pleasure and calm? Believe it or not, there has been some research that has shown there are benefits of colouring.

What Does The Research On Colouring Say?

One study evaluated the benefits of colouring in students and found that coloring complex geometric designs, like a mandala, reduced anxiety. The results also suggested that the practice created a kind of meditative state for these undergraduate students that's beneficial for reducing anxiety and stress. Another study on mindfulness art therapy for women with cancer found that colouring significantly decreased the symptoms of physical and emotional distress for these ladies during treatment. Art therapy has also been helpful to people dealing with other conditions, including depression, anxiety, addictions and trauma.

So How Does Adult Coloring Help Relieve Stress and Anxiety?

Firstly, it should be known that colouring pages intended for adults are not the same as those for children. They feature many intricate designs and are available in a wide range of themes. However the benefits behind coloring are:

1. It relaxes the brain.

When your thoughts are focused on this easy activity, your brain tends to relax. Coloring relaxes the fear center of your brain, the amygdala. It induces an equivalent state as meditating by reducing the thoughts of a restless mind. This generates mindfulness and tranquility , which allows your mind to urge some rest after an extended day at work.

2. It takes the attention away from yourself. 

An easy act like coloring takes your attention away from yourself (and the things that are stressing you out!) and onto the present-moment event. In this manner, coloring can be thought of like a meditative exercise similar to the way, cutting the lawn, knitting or taking a Sunday drive can all be relaxing..

3. It improves focus.

Coloring requires you to focus, but not too much that it’s stressful. It allows your fontal lobe , which controls organizing and problem solving, to open up allowing you to place everything else aside and live in the moment , resulting in better focus.

4. It Improves sleep.

You get better sleep when we avoid using electronics at night. This is because exposure to the emitted blue light reduces your levels of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Coloring is an electronic-free bedtime ritual that won’t disturb your level of melatonin.

adult woman coloring madala pattern with coloring pencil in coloring book

5. It can be done by anyone. 

You don’t need to be an expert artist to color! It isn’t predictable or prescriptive. You can be as neat — or as messy — as you want , and this is often one of its relaxing perks. So go ahead, color outside the lines. Adult coloring is often a great escape, instead of a demanding test of our capabilities.

Why do some people find coloring stressful?

Adult coloring is not for everyone.  If you enjoyed coloring as a toddler or child, you probably would enjoy it as an adult.  It all depends on your prior experiences.  If you can’t remember, or are not certain there is no harm in giving it a try.  You can find some free coloring pages on the Internet and give it a try.

Should You Try Coloring?

Having hobbies to help you de-stress is not new, whether you like to golf, cook, build model airplanes or put together scrap books. If you’re trying to find an uplifting way to unwind after a stressful day at work, coloring can surely help. Simply pick a theme that you like and color it however you like!


With the present impact to your lifestyle with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the many uncertainties looming in the distance, coloring might just be the thing to help you unwind and re-center.


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