How Does Coloring Reduce Stress

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Do you remember coloring as a kid and how it seemed like time would just melt away? Well, believe it or not, coloring is an effective activity for calming your mind and it isn’t just for your kiddos. But you may be wondering how does coloring reduce stress and how could and activity as simple as this actually be beneficial to helping me when I feel anxious or overwhelmed.

Firstly, to answer that question we will look at some benefits of coloring and why you may want to think about printing some coloring pages of your own or invest in a nice adult coloring book.

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Benefits of coloring

how does coloring reduce stress

Coloring is something we often associate with kids but it turns out there are many benefits to coloring and many reasons adults can enjoy it. As someone who has been coloring since a child and still enjoys it to this day, I can tell you there is no reason you shouldn’t pick up a coloring page every now and again and color away.

Maybe this list will help you see why too!

You don’t have to be an artist

One of the great things about coloring is, it can be done by anyone. Moms, dads, kids, or teens, can all enjoy this activity and you do not have to have any artistic ability to enjoy it.

Just pick up your coloring pages and your tools and give it a whirl!

You can make it as neat or as messy as you want. There is no need to stay in the lines. Unlike painting or other hobbies, there are no real consequences.

Besides, there are so many things you can print from puppies to superheroes. I am sure there is something for everyone.

It replicates the effects of meditation

Coloring per se is not a means of meditation or mindfulness. However, a study suggests that coloring difficult geometric patterns can possibly induce a meditative state. That can be beneficial to those suffering from anxiety.

This is due to that fact that they require your attention and focus to complete. Pretty cool, right?

It can expel negative thoughts

We all worry about things like bills, family, and finances. However, it can be difficult to rid of these thoughts because of constantly having to deal with negative emotions.

These negative emotions can have a negative impact on your mental and physical health when left undealt with.

When you focus on something you enjoy it is easier to think positively. As you color, your thoughts melt away into the tasks at hand.

Similar to painting a landscape, as you look at the image and the colors, you will be able to think more positively.

It can remind you of happy childhood memories

Do you ever notice how you are reminded of your childhood when you hear an old song? Or, when you eat a food you used to eat.

Ever notice how you are reminded of happy memories when you look at old photos? Well, coloring can have the same effects.

When I color with my daughter, I sit there and am reminded of the times when I was a child. It brings me joy to think about the good times.

Remembering a good time is said to build resilience to stress and is also a useful tool for young people suffering from depression.

It can be done anywhere

One of the things I love about coloring is that it is an activity I can do any time or anywhere. If I need to go sit in a doctor’s office I pull out my coloring app, or if I am bored my coloring book helps me kill the time.

Or, if my daughter I am bored we can print up a few coloring pages and do the “three markers challenge”. Say I feel like creating a new mandala, I can go online and do that really quick and sit down and watch the sunset and color.

I could go on all day!

It is therapy to some illnesses

One of my favorite benefits of coloring is close to the same benefits of journaling and reading. You see I have a few health conditions that have messed with my cognitive abilities a bit and so getting them back up to par has been a difficult road.

So activities like coloring, writing, and blogging have been very beneficial to me.

Epilepsy 

Studies have shown that adult coloring is a pretty effective treatment for those who suffer from epilepsy. The concentration and focus required seem to help decrease the epileptic attacks. Pretty neat!

Cancer

Cancer treatments are known for their horrible side effects and how terribly ill and depressed they can make the patients. Studies have shown that coloring can have a positive impact on the patient’s morale as well as the health and side effects that come from standard cancer treatments.

Alzheimer’s/Dementia

As someone who has had to suffer from cognitive issues and memory loss, there are few things worse than losing your mind and feeling helpless. Adult coloring is no fix for this issue, however, it has been shown as an effective therapy.

Adult coloring will take them complete focus and concentration which will be good for their synapses. It will also remind them of their childhood and get memories flowing when they smell the crayons and markers.

Plus, if nothing else it is a great social activity to sit down and color together.

How does coloring reduce stress?

From what we can gather from the above benefits, coloring complex designs can take a lot more focus and concentration. This then puts you into a meditative state.

This state of relaxation can trigger the part of the brain that is known as the amygdala. The part of your brain is responsible for our emotions and is affected by stress.

So when we are performing an activity like coloring we are so focused on completing the task at hand and not what is stressing us out.

That is also why other activities like crafting, painting, and meditation, help you relieve stress and put you in a better mood.

Best tips to use coloring to reduce stress

Tip 1: Choose your tools wisely

Although there is no requirement for the tools you use, you still get better results when you pick the best ones.

So you will want to invest in some tools to get the most out of your coloring.

When I first started out coloring I tried crayons but they don’t give me the versatility and/or bold color markers, gel pens, and colored pencils can give you.

You also have to be careful when choosing markers because certain brands will bleed through the pages making it difficult to color a double-sided image.

Tip 2: Pick a design that is complex enough

Since you want to get stress relief from coloring and this can be achieved by triggering the amygdala, you will want to choose a hard enough design. Try something geometric, or even a mandala.

You can find many different free mandala designs online or even make your own mandala.

Tip 3: Always test your pages first

When trying out your markers or gel pens for the first time, it is best to test them on a page in the back cover of your book or a piece of printer paper. This way you can see if the colors will bleed through the pages.

Tip 4: Use a paper behind your pages

Use an extra sheet of paper underneath the page you are coloring to protect the next page from bleeding when using markers.

Tip 5: Buy one book at a time

If you don’t have a favorite type of design yet then it is best to buy one book at a time. This way you can see which designs you really like to color.

Tip 6: Take your time

Since you are using color as a means to relax, don’t feel rushed. Take your time so you will be able to enjoy the activity and that way you will be happier with your end results.

Tip 7: Have fun

When using coloring for stress relief it isn’t about how neat you are it is just about taking your mind off your worries. Remember, you don’t have to stay in the lines when you color, just have fun!

5 Free Printable Mandala Coloring Pages

Coloring mandalas are great for stress relief but making them can be difficult. I have included 5 pages for you to print and color for free right now!

Get your 5 free printable mandala coloring pages by filling in your email below. Then simply check your email to download and print them.

The Last Thing You Need to Know About Coloring to Reduce Stress

Coloring is a great activity and it doesn’t have to be enjoyed only by our children. When you pick up an adult coloring book, print a complex coloring page, or use a coloring app. You will enjoy the benefits coloring can give you.

Benefits like childhood memory reminders, meditation effects, development of positive thoughts, and increased focus and concentration, you will be on your ways to added stress relief.

Be sure to use the right tools and choose a design that is challenging enough or make your own.

If you feel like coloring isn’t for you, then that is okay too!

Have you tried adult coloring books for stress relief? What designs do you enjoy when coloring?

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16 thoughts on “How Does Coloring Reduce Stress”

    1. I am glad you enjoyed it! That would be great! You may want to color with your daughter too hehe, I love coloring with my daughter, I just made her a coloring page the other day. Thank you for the comment!

  1. Amazing that coloring is even an effective treatment for those who suffer from epilepsy. How great is that. As well as the other illnesses you mention!
    I love coloring, but have never had a coloring book. I just draw and color. I love Karisme pencils the most if I work ‘dry’ and the water soluble Caran d’Ache if I also want to add water. And you are right, it is such a relaxing thing to do. 🙂

    1. Yes, that is very neat that it is effective for certain illnesses. I love those pencils too, especially the water-soluble ones. I am drawing my own lately too to color, that is a great idea!

  2. Hi Melissa. Love this post. Simply put excellent imagery, and I even felt more relaxed reading it never mind commencing colouring in.
    Well done great post and I look forward to your next
    Trevor

    1. Wow, I appreciate it Trevor and I am so happy it made you feel relaxed. Thanks for the kind words and your comment and I look forward to your return!

  3. Great article and yes coloring has a very therapeutic effect. We used coloring as an activity for our Alzheimers and dementia patients when I worked in a nursing home. It had a very calming effect on them. My teenage grand-daughters still enjoy coloring and received a ‘Harry Potter” coloring book in which the pictures are very detailed. I have enjoyed coloring with them on many occasions. Are you familiar with the ‘Harry Potter coloring books?

    1. Yes, I heard about how coloring is used in nursing homes and that is actually why I had to mention it. I am not familiar with the Harry Potter books but I am familiar with the Disney Dreams Collection books and that one is amazing and very detailed so I can imagine how the Harry Potter ones look. You should look into the Disney Dreams book it is good for adults and teens. I love coloring with my daughter, have you heard of the “three marker challenge”, is that something your granddaughters do? Maybe they are too old for it.

    1. I am glad you enjoyed it and I am so happy you will be coloring. I think it is a great activity. Have fun and stay safe!

  4. Hi Melissa,

    Great article. I love to color. It can be so relaxing. I do have a question for you. You mention that you and your daughter like to do the “three markers challenge.” What is that?

    -Amanda

    1. Hi Amanda,
      I am glad you love to color and thanks for the question. The “three markers challenge” was a big trend on Youtube and my daughter introduced me to it. The steps are this:
      You and whoever is participating pick one themed image to all color, preferable one that is easy to color and doesn’t need many colors, such as sponge bob, my little pony, a teddy bear, or something of that nature. You will be coloring the same image.
      Next, you take turns blindly drawing three markers. We put our markers in some sort of bag that doesn’t allow us to see the colors and then we take turns drawing our three markers.
      You are then stuck coloring that image with those three markers.
      We have others in our home say which they like better for fun. It is a fun little challenge and we laugh at the horrible colors we are stuck with sometimes.

      Hope I explained it well, and thanks for the comment!

  5. A really good read Melissa. Its ironic really as I tend to colour a bit with my kids and thats even as they get older (now 13 and 11). Its a genuine stress release and a healthy way of detaching us from our devises so a win-win. I wasn’t aware of the other suggested medical benefits though so interesting to learn. Thanks for sharing – Jason.

    1. Wow, that is great Jason, and yes it is a great way to disconnect us from these electronics and we can use that. Thank you for the comment!

  6. Nice post this one Melissa, I keep hearing more and more about the calming effects of using a colouring book, but it just seems so totally juvenille that I can’t bring myself to do it. On a similar note, I have read the odd bit about certain colours having specific effects on our emotions directly – will you be writing a new article that touches on this area in the future?

    1. Don’t feel bad Simon, there are a lot of things beneficial to us but we all find ourselves often slow to bringing ourselves to make the adjustment. You will get there in due time. This is just my starter post on the subject of coloring and so yes I will add more on coloring and so thanks for mentioning that, I will be sure to mix it in there because emotions play a big part in stress. Thanks for the comment!

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