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Coloring for Stress-Relief and Relaxation

Updated: Jan 3

Adult coloring book and colored pencils. Coloring reduces stress.

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Coloring isn’t just for rainy days—and it isn’t just for children.

Adult coloring books have become the mindfulness tool of choice for those who are looking for a simple way to reduce stress and relax.

Coloring books are portable and easy to use. You can take them with you and use them for creative expression during work breaks, lunch hours, and as a relaxing distraction during travel.

You don’t need to be an artist to benefit from adult coloring books. The repeated patterns and stress-relieving designs can be filled in with your choice of colors, creating a unique piece of art customized by you.

Coloring mandalas or other intricate designs is less intimidating for most people than drawing. When we draw, we feel subject to the approval of anyone who might see what we have created.

But when we color, the designs are already in place, and we can let go of our worries and lose ourselves in the moment.

Coloring and mindfulness go hand in hand. As we focus on the coloring page, we are drawn out of negative thoughts (which usually exist in the past or future), and we find ourselves lost in the present moment.

Think about the reasons we encourage coloring for children. When a child is absorbed in the act of coloring, they become quiet, time flies, and they improve focus, concentration, and fine motor skills.

Adults gain these same benefits from adult coloring books.

This is because coloring utilizes both hemispheres of the brain. The left side of the brain uses logic to guide us and control our hand movements—helping us to stay in the lines (or consciously color out of the lines if we choose to do so!).

The right side of the brain flourishes in the available color choices and creative expression.

Enthusiasts of the adult coloring book trend claim coloring helps them relax and feel happier. If this is true for you, you may want to make coloring part of your evening routine and everyday life.

Coloring a mandala with watercolors. Art reduces stress.

Here are some tips if you want to try coloring for stress relief and relaxation.

Coloring book options

The choices for adult coloring books have grown tremendously over the past few years as the practice has gained popularity. You can find coloring books filled with mandalas, animal designs, flowers, and inspirational images.

Free coloring pages

If you want to give coloring a try before you buy, you can find free coloring pages online to print. Coloring Home has some charming options, and Shabby Creek Cottage has over 100 designs to choose from.

Colored pencils and more

What is your favorite coloring implement? You can choose from colored pencils, gel pens, no-bleed markers, or good old-fashioned crayons. The choice is up to you—and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can use more than one type of coloring tool for a mixed-media masterpiece.

Location, location, location

Since coloring books are lightweight and easy to take on the go, you can color just about anywhere.

I prefer to color in a quiet environment, either outside when the weather is nice or curled up by the fireplace on snowy days. But you can enjoy the mental health benefits of a mindful coloring break whether you’re at work or at home—or even in your hotel room when you need a brain break during travel!

Color schemes

Part of the appeal of coloring mandalas is looking at the beautiful colors in the finished product. Pick a color scheme (try different shades of your favorite color), start from the center, and work your way out in sections for a methodical, relaxing effect.

Lap desk

Sitting at a table can take some of the enjoyment out of a relaxing coloring session. But coloring on your lap or using a magazine to support your coloring page can result in frustration and holes poked in your design.

Try using a lap desk with a comfy fabric cushion to keep your art and tools orderly and within reach.

Remember to have fun

Most importantly, relax and have fun. Coloring can be a wonderful way to de-stress and chill out at the end of a busy day. So grab a coloring page or even a whole book and get started. There’s no better time than now to treat yourself!

Do you enjoy other arts and crafts for their relaxing effects? Click here for more ways arts and crafts reduce your stress hormone levels and help you get in the zone.

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