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Coloring Book Therapy: Fad or Fact?

Can adult coloring book pages really reduce the stress in your life? See what the editors of FaveCrafts.com found out.

Updated September 25, 2018
Coloring Book Therapy Fad or Fact
Coloring Book Therapy Fad or Fact
This image courtesy of favecrafts.com

No one is more familiar with the growing fad of adult coloring books and downloadable coloring book pages than the editors here at FaveCrafts.com. We have coloring books coming in and out of our office constantly. Our readers have become increasingly hungry for these types of crafts over the past year. Coloring is said to relieve stress in the participant's everyday life, allowing them to scribble their way to a moment of zen. Articles upon articles have been written about the stress-relieving nature of these grown-up coloring pages. It can hard to determine, however, if there is truly something therapeutic and stress-busting about coloring or if this de-stressing fad is simply a smart way to sell coloring books.

Logically, it makes sense! Arts and crafts have a long history of giving your mental health a colorful boost. But are adult coloring books really a form of therapy? Can they truly reduce the amount of stress in your life? We decided to explore this phenomenon. Continue reading below to find out what we discovered in Coloring Book Therapy: Fad or Fact?

Trying out Adult Coloring Book Pages

To test out the stress-relieving ability of adult coloring books, the editors from Prime Publishing LLC had a coloring book party. For a short break one morning, we decked out our conference room with treats, coloring pencils, and printable coloring pages for our editors to explore at their leisure. After getting a chance to be creative in the office, we polled our editors on how they felt before, during, and after coloring. We received the following answers:

  1. 57% of participants said they were stressed before coloring

  2. 40% participants said that they found the activity stress-reducing

  3. 86% of participants said that they found the experience relaxing

Coloring Book Therapy: Relaxing Activity

While this little experiment was by no means perfect - the participants were at work which is naturally a more stressful environment, they colored in a group setting that could lead to social anxiety, and there was a small time limit on the activity, the results still point to some interesting conclusions. Adult coloring books are, our participants found, a relaxing activity. Sitting down and coloring can temporarily calm you down. One editor said the following of the experience:

"Unlike other creative forms like drawing or painting, there's no pressure to perform. It's a relief to be in control of something that really won't affect my life. If I choose the 'wrong' color, there are no repercussions. I can turn the page and color something else whenever I want. You can't be bad at coloring. It's a way to let go of time and pressure, and just sink into the comfort of repetitive motion."

Shading in coloring book pages can allow a person to, for lack of a better word, chill out. The repetitive and simple motion allows the colorer to zone out and tune into a repetitive task. In the end, however, editors did not find that the activity relieved stress in their lives to the same degree. It was a momentary fix that faded shortly after they had finished. Much like other stress-busting activities like exercise, listening to music, meditation, and yoga, coloring is temporary and the effectiveness depends wholly on your method and timing. Adult coloring books cannot relieve stress in a stressful environment.
Doing yoga in a crowded room, for example, would not be relaxing, and adult coloring books are much the same. Another editor noted, “I think it could have been a stress-reducing activity if I didn't have to work right afterward.” Coloring is not an inherently stress-busting activity, but instead, allows one to relax. These moments of quiet can, in turn, lead to a temporary reduction of stress. Whether that moment happens to have a long-standing impact on the overall levels of stress in a person's life varies.

Adult Coloring Books: Just Another Excuse for Me Time

In the end, our editors discovered that coloring is a relaxing activity temporarily. In the right environment, adult coloring books serve as a form of therapy because they are a form of meditation. In order to have a stress-reducing adult coloring book experience, the environment and timing need to be right. They are not a cure-all for stress, but they can certainly help. Much like certain people find joy and relaxation in specific forms of exercise, adult coloring books are another option. What it comes down to is taking some time to allow yourself to relax, deciding that you want to take a few moments for self-care. Coloring books are just one of those options.

What kind of crafting or creating do you find relaxing?

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I don't quite know yet just how I feel about it. The first few times I tried "adult" coloring pages, I was put off because they seemed too complicated and more of a challenge than relaxing. The more I color, the more I like it, but I still prefer knitting to relax after a busy day. It's something about making something out of "nothing" I think, for me.

Coloring is very relaxing and a chance to give your mind a rest. There is no right or wrong, no instructions. Just me and my pencils. If it's good, I show it, if it's no, nobody cares. I love it.

I love coloring. It's a great way to have some "me" time. Even though someone else did the hard part of drawing the actual pages, I still feel accomplished when I'm done because the finished project is such a pretty picture.

I feel coloring is very calming and relaxing for me. When I sit to color, I focus on what colors I am using, and how I want my picture to look. Thoughts of everything else just leave my mind. It gives me time to regroup and de stress. It is like time out for grownups.

Coloring is like short term therapy. It might not help in the long run (y'know, like actual therapy), but it could make your day or even just a couple of hours a little bit more relaxing. And if that doesn't help, maybe aggressively sharpening your colored pencils will take the edge off.

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