Adult Coloring Books: A Creative Way to Mindfulness


We all experience stressful moments, more so recently, owing to the effect of COVID-19 on our lives. Few have escaped a feeling of worry, whether it relates to the illness itself or the far-reaching changes it has had on society at large.

You cannot avoid stress. However, you can learn to find a way to handle it. Hobbies are great outlets for getting rid of negative energy like this, but some are complicated or pricey to start.

An affordable way to de-stress

A higher price point doesn’t apply to adult coloring, a pastime that has blossomed in popularity in recent years. It’s not just about passing the time either; a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic states that there are many advantages to indulging in an activity normally associated with children.

If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, refocusing your mind is one of the best ways to turn things around. If you color, you’re doing something that requires focus.

Try it – buy a cheap adult coloring book and a few pens or pencils and give it a try. It’s hard to focus on anything else when you’re coloring.

Related: “Slowing Down: A Mindfulness Starter Pack”

Meditation and mindfulness

It’s no surprise to learn that meditation helps calm the mind and body. However, it takes real effort to meditate without a focus.

Coloring books provide that focus. Yet they do not require a lot of concentration. Or cash. Anyone can do it. You don’t even need to stay inside the lines. The process is what matters most.

Taking time away from your devices

Admit it – have you ever finished working on your computer, intent on relaxing, only to pick up a tablet or smartphone to play a game on a smaller screen instead?

I’ve been there. We all have. But it’s good for your eyes and brain to get away from devices for a while. Especially prior to bedtime.

Coloring books can go to bed with you, especially if you’re using pencils. I find that it’s a great way to wind down – so great, in fact, I rarely do that much before dozing off.

Aiming for a chilled-out amygdala

A study from a few years ago – before adult coloring really took off – discovered that coloring mandalas (complex circular patterns) relaxes the amygdala. This in turn reduces stress and anxiety levels, so there is evidence to support the idea that coloring is good for you.

Coloring books showcase a new world

A whole market of coloring books meant specifically with adults in mind has popped up. Some tell stories and hide things in the pictures for you to find as you color. Others are firmly escapist, offering castles, dragons, and other complex creatures to find and bring to life.

Coloring certainly has the power to reduce stress and anxiety and to promote a sense of calm. It’s no surprise to learn many more copies of these books were sold as the pandemic took hold.

Clearly, some adults already know the benefits of coloring. Give it a try: it’s certainly not something to be left behind in childhood.

-Allison Whitehead

Photo: Image of a coloring “mandala” (Peaksel via Wikimedia Commons)

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