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
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
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.