Coloring Books Help AnxietyColoring books for anxiety are amazing tools that help you channel negative energy, relieve stress, and lessen feelings of anxiety. In other words, this article reveals the 5 best adult coloring books that specifically help people with anxiety.

Coloring books are no longer just for the kids. In fact, adult coloring books are all the rage right now. While researchers and art therapists alike have touted the calming benefits for over a decade, it’s childhood favorite Crayola that’s gotten adult coloring books some serious grown-up attention. The famous crayon makers even launched a set of markers, colored pencils and a collection of adult coloring books, Coloring Escapes.

Though the first commercially successful adult coloring books were published in 2012 and 2013, the once-niche hobby has now grown into a full-on trend, with everyone from researchers at Johns Hopkins University to the editors of Yoga Journal suggesting coloring as an alternative to meditation. Here’s why you might want to open a page and chill.

Art Therapy

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is a mental health profession in which the process of making and creating artwork is used to explore feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem.

It’s important to note that using an adult coloring book is not exactly the same as completing an art therapy session. Coloring itself cannot be called art therapy because art therapy relies on the relationship between the client and the therapist.

Despite the fact that coloring and art therapy aren’t quite the same thing, coloring does offer a slew of mental benefits. Coloring definitely has therapeutic potential to reduce anxiety, create focus or bring about more mindfulness. Research in 2005 proved anxiety levels dropped when subjects colored mandalas, which are round frames with geometric patterns inside. Simply doodling, though, had no effect in reducing the other subjects’ stress levels.

Just like meditation, coloring also allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus only on the moment, helping to alleviate free-floating anxiety. It can be particularly effective for people who aren’t comfortable with more creatively expressive forms of art.

Adults should skip the crayons and go straight for the colored pencils because precision is everything when it comes to tuning in. Crayola has a complete guide that shows how to take your tools up a notch by blending colors, shading and adding highlights and lowlights to your newfound masterpieces.

Randi Fredricks, Ph.D.

counseling therapy symbol 

References

Carsley D., Heath N. L., Fajnerova S. (2015). Effectiveness of a classroom mindfulness coloring activity for test anxiety in children. J. Appl. School Psychol. 31 239–255. 10.1080/15377903.2015.1056925

Curry, N. A., and Kasser, T. (2005). Can coloring mandalas reduce anxiety? Art Ther. 22, 81–85. doi: 10.1080/10615806.2015.1076798

Potash J. S., Chen J. Y., Tsang J. P. Y. (2015). Medical student mandala making for holistic well-being. Med. Humanit. 42 17–25. 10.1136/medhum-2015-010717

Rigby M., Taubert M. (2016). Art of medicine: colouring books for adults on the cancer ward. Br. Med. J. 352:h6795 10.1136/bmj.h6795

van der Vennet R., Serice S. (2012). Can coloring mandalas reduce anxiety? A replication study. Art Ther. 29 87–92. 10.1080/10615806.2015.1076798

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