The Therapeutic Qualities of Coloring

Adult coloring books have become a popular hobby taken on by many individuals around the world. Although this hobby may have started as a pleasurable way to pass time, research has shown that coloring could be quite therapeutic. Coloring has an effect on physiological health and psychological health. Research has found that coloring may be beneficial for individuals dealing with depression, dementia, anxiety, trauma, and medical diagnoses, to name a few.

One does not have to be an artistic individual in order to enjoy coloring books. Instead, coloring allows one to ignite their creativity by mixing and matching different colors. Coloring books are about coloring in the lines and practicing mindfulness. Kabat-Zinn (1990) described mindfulness as “an awareness that emerges through purposefully paying attention in the present moment.” When coloring, we are able to turn off our brains from surrounding stimuli and other intruding thoughts and just focus on the task at hand.

Coloring books have been found to reduce stress and anxiety and improve mood by allowing an individual to relax. Relaxation has been measured by studying the physiological changes one experiences while coloring. Research has found a decrease in heart rate when coloring. By using different colors and focusing on the details of the image it is easy to ignore distractions. Let go of those negative thoughts, anxiety, and stress and give coloring a try. Coloring pages are easily accessible online and in stores and are also easy to implement into your day-to-day life.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and
Mind to Face Stress Pain, and Illness. New York, NY: Delacourt.

Mantzios, M. and Giannou, K. (2018). When Did Coloring Books Become Mindful? Exploring the Effectiveness of a Novel Method of Mindfulness-Guided Instructions for Coloring Books to Increase Mindfulness and Decrease Anxiety. Front. Psychol. 9:56.