Does Coloring Really Reduce Stress?

Does Coloring Really Reduce Stress?

What do you think when you think of coloring books? Most likely, you envision those little paperback cartoon books you used to use as a child, learning fine motor skills and how to “color in the lines” with your Crayons and Magic Markers. But now, coloring isn’t just for kids anymore. This new trend means that a craft that used to be mainly popular among children has now expanded to include adults!

The renewed interest in coloring books in the United States took off in 2014 after already becoming widespread in popularity throughout Europe the previous year, in countries such as France and Spain. Now, several spots of Amazon’s list of Top 20 Books are adult coloring books! One of the major reasons why adult coloring books are so popular is that adult coloring book manufacturers proudly tout the exciting benefit of relieving stress in busy, hardworking men and women who have a hard time finding practical ways to unwind.

You may have noticed this phenomenon already after seeing front-and-center displays of gorgeous coloring books in your local bookstore or arts and crafts store. If you’re envisioning childish Disney or Pixar books with simple illustrations, think again! Adult coloring books are intricate, ornate, and often highly complex with detailed designs that include delicate geometric and floral patterns.

The Science Behind Coloring & Stress Relief

The question is: Do the claims of stress relief have any merit? Do coloring books actually help adults unwind and relax, or is it just hype from coloring book manufacturers? At least in an official sense, the answer is not concrete. Not many studies have been conducted on the correlation behind coloring and stress.

However, coloring is not new as a stress relief technique. Carl G. Jung was a psychologist who used coloring to help his patients relax in the early 20th century. He used mandalas, which are detailed, circular designs that represent the universe in Buddhist and Hindu teachings.

One study examined the stress levels of 84 college students. The students’ anxiety was measured before and then after writing down accounts of frightening experiences. Then, the students were asked to either color a blank page or a design. The designs included plaids and mandalas. Their stress levels were then measured again after completing the coloring assignments. Students who colored the blank page showed no changes in their stress levels, but those who colored the designs demonstrated reduced stress. Later, a follow-up study found that coloring the mandala pattern reduced stress and the plaids did not.

While coloring may reduce stress, it is important to note that it is not art therapy and there is no evidence that it can help a person overcome personal trauma. According to a statement from the American Art Therapy Association, coloring books are supported for the results of “pleasure and self care” but should not be used as a replacement for therapy.

At the end of the day, the potential correlation between stress relief and coloring boils down to common sense. Taking time away from your responsibilities to concentrate on something unrelated that requires focus and attention is healthy. Coloring also has the added benefits of not requiring a great deal of practice, skill, or equipment. It is not a major financial burden and does not require training or instruction. Anyone can do it! There is freedom as well as guidance, and the ability to create something beautiful in a way that is relaxing and challenging without being overwhelming or requiring major cleanup or dedicated space.

Talk with Your Doctor About Stress

Stress is dangerous and can lead to serious health concerns. There are many methods of stress relief—coloring may be a good option for you as part of an overall approach to reducing your anxiety. If you are searching for ways to be calm and centered while reducing your anxiety levels, you are doing the right thing. The best way to deal with stress is to speak with your medical care provider about your specific situation and concerns.

Reach out to AHMC Anaheim Regional Medical Center in Orange County if you would like to schedule an appointment with our caring team.

This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a physician.

If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

Categories: Wellness