Woman happily using an adult coloring book
Personal Health

Why Adult Coloring Books Are Good for Mental Health

Adult coloring books are trendy right now, but if you haven't yet jumped aboard the bandwagon, you may be wondering about the mental health benefits of the practice. How does engaging your inner child impact your well-being in a meaningful way?

It all comes down to two words: stress relief. Here's a closer look at adult coloring books' anxiety-reducing effects that have so many grown-ups breaking out the colored pencils.

Coloring Makes You More Mindful

The act of coloring forces your brain to focus on something besides your worries. According to psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala, coloring uses both logic and creativity, as well as vision and fine motor skills. Art therapist Marygrace Berberian likens the focus you get from coloring to the effects of mindfulness meditation -- it's a way to de-stress your brain by focusing on the here and now.

There's scientific evidence to support the stress-relieving effects of this type of creative expression. One study showed that coloring mandalas can substantially reduce anxiety. If you're feeling constantly stressed, an adult coloring book may be a great way to take your mind off whatever is weighing you down.

Coloring Teaches You to Turn Off

Do you ever feel like you just can't shut off that inner voice that's constantly overthinking and criticizing your every move? Adult coloring books can help you quiet that voice. By undertaking a leisure activity that you're not necessarily skilled at, you teach yourself that you don't have to excel at something just to get enjoyment out of it -- you learn to do for the sake of doing.

Because coloring connects you to your creative side in a non-intimidating way, it helps you get in touch with a part of yourself that you might not have discovered yet. It's a great way to change gears from the stress of your normal routine. Some people even turn to coloring books instead of snacking or smoking as a way to find new stress-management habits.

Personalizing Your Practice

You can get even more out of adult coloring books if you're mindful about how you use them. This includes exploring what motivates you to color: Is it the social aspect of coloring with a group of friends? Do you like coloring because it gives you a chance to just turn off your mind for a while? Are you just bored and need a distraction? When you explore what needs coloring fills for you personally, you can seek out other hobbies that play a similar role in your life and find an even deeper sense of accomplishment.

If the idea of a physical coloring book seems a little cumbersome in the digital age, you can download a mobile app that mimics a coloring book and take it with you on your phone or tablet. There are lots of options out there, including Adult Coloring Book and Colorfy.

Adult coloring books provide a great opportunity to turn off life's everyday stressors and focus completely on a simple yet gratifying activity. Give it a try and see if it helps, paying attention to why you personally enjoy coloring. Your motivations can help you find other ways to relieve stress and get in touch with your creative side.

Posted in Personal Health

Author and publicist, featured by Business Week, Livestrong, The Nest, and many other publications. Her interests include Science, technology, business, pets, women's lifestyle and Christian living.

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*This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute health care advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or physician before making health care decisions.