Is Coloring a Good Way for Adults to Relieve Stress?

A Healthier Michigan

| 3 min read

Coloring books are usually associated with young children or early education, but coloring can have remarkable effects on adults’ mental and emotional state. Coloring has been found to be a therapeutic or meditative activity for many and can have multifold benefits, especially for adults with high levels of stress or anxiety. Specifically for adults with generalized anxiety disorder, coloring has been shown to have a variety of stress-relieving and calming benefits

Coloring Can Reduce Stress & Anxiety in Adults

Over the course of a 45-minute session of coloring, many adults experienced lower stress levels and higher levels of positive feelings, according to a study in the National Library of Medicine. High-stress groups that were tested included oncology patients and their caregivers, college students, elderly patients and pregnant women.
The shapes or patterns included in colorings books or various studies also have different effects or varying levels of relief of stress and anxiety. Geometric shapes and mandalas have been found to be especially helpful shapes for coloring to increase mindfulness and focus, according to studies on adults coloring. 

Coloring as a Stress Management or Stress Relief Tool

The first key to managing stress or finding effective stress relief tools is to identify what your stress triggers are. Finding ways to react to stress and manage it that are within your control are key to building a stress management routine, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Relaxation techniques and exercises are typically effective practices to combat and manage stress. Often, relaxation techniques include resting, meditating, massage, positive self-talk, and more. Coloring can be an effective practice for managing stress, especially used in tandem with other stress management practices.
Coloring helps to shift the mind away from negative thoughts, regulate emotions, and can even ease the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Coloring Can Improve Focus and Sleep

Coloring has also been shown to help stabilize breathing patterns and improve self-regulated focus, according to a study on coloring’s effect on mindfulness. A screen-free pastime, coloring before bed is a much better winding-down activity than scrolling social media or watching television, both of which can hinder melatonin production with their blue light, according to Harvard Medical School.

Help Maintain Motor Skills for Aging Adults

Coloring can also help with fine motor skills, especially when practiced regularly. Grasping of the coloring pencils, coloring within the lines or designs on the page, and active decision-making by choosing colors and where to use them are all beneficial exercises for aging adults.

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