Adult coloring books have become increasingly popular in the past few years. This trend seems to reflect something that mental health professionals have known for years--that coloring can provide a number of mental health benefits to individuals of all ages.
This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my full disclosure statement.
Beyond being an enjoyable activity for many, coloring helps to refocus the mind, especially when coloring intricate images. Coloring has a calming effect and offers a healthy, relatively easy way to decrease anxiety and stress.
Coloring can be done as a mindfulness exercise, as it involves intentionally shifting attention to the present moment. Thinking about aesthetic issues (e.g., color schemes, how to achieve visual balance) and applying pencil to paper serve to enhance focus and concentration on the act of coloring. This pulls attention away from thoughts about the past or future, which tends to decrease distressing emotions such as sadness, anger, and anxiety. When coloring intricately detailed images, coloring can become almost meditative.
Focusing the mind on the calming and safe activity of coloring may be especially beneficial for individuals who frequently experience racing thoughts or heightened states of anxiety, because coloring provides a much needed period of rest and relaxation for the brain.
This is also why coloring is an ideal activity to engage in if you are having difficulty sleeping. Too often people turn to their phones or watch television when they are having trouble falling asleep, but the blue light emitted from electronic devices actually interferes with sleep. Coloring offers a much better alternative for those looking to calm the mind and prepare for restful sleep.
There are many free resources for printable adult coloring pages that can be found online, so even if you still aren't sure that coloring is for you, why not give it a try? Once you experience these benefits for yourself, you will likely understand the recent rise in popularity of adult coloring books.