11 Therapeutic Benefits of Coloring for Adults

Adult relieving stress with pencils and coloring books

Most people think of coloring as an activity for kids, but there’s no shame in doing it as an adult. Coloring is fun, relaxing, and a great way to pass the time, so more adults should be doing it. Not only is it a good activity for enjoyment, but it can also have many therapeutic benefits.

So, how can coloring help adults both physically and mentally? Keep reading to find out!

The Difference Between Coloring Books for Adults and Kids

Adults can color any picture they want. If they want to color an image of cute animals or cartoon characters, there’s no harm in doing so. Yet, the designs in kid coloring books can be fairly simple and not creative or exciting enough for some people. So, adult coloring books exist to add some complexity to coloring pages.

The main difference between adult and kid coloring books is that adult coloring books are more detailed. The designs are less childlike and more complex so the person using them can experiment with unique patterns and designs. The images usually focus on things that are relaxing, such as nature scenes and mandalas.

That being said, not all adults like the extravagant designs of adult coloring books. If you like to color, use the coloring page that’s the most appealing to you. There are also many coloring apps for people interested in coloring virtually.

Benefits of Coloring for Adults

Adult coloring flowers with orange pencil

Below are 11 reasons why coloring for adults is beneficial. It can help both your physical and mental health.

1. Reduces Stress

Everyone gets stressed at times, but doing something relaxing is a great way to relieve some of that stress. Coloring can help your brain and body relax. A more relaxed body leads to improved sleep and less fatigue. So, if something stressful happened, it may be beneficial to pull out a coloring book and complete some beautiful designs.

A 2018 study tested the effects of coloring on 66 college students and found evidence that coloring had short-term benefits on stress levels. Thus, if you’re having a stressful day at work or school, taking a break to do some coloring might help make it more manageable. Other popular stress relievers include spending time with a pet, reading, dancing, or getting a massage.

2. Alleviates Anxiety

Anti-stress coloring book

The terms stress and anxiety are often used interchangeably, but they’re two different concerns. Stress occurs when the body reacts to something while anxiety is a constant worry or thought that’s not always triggered by an obvious cause. Luckily, coloring can help with anxiety just like it can with stress.

Since anxiety and stress are often related, the ways coloring can help are similar. Coloring has a calming, soothing nature that can help you stop worrying and focusing on negative things. It requires the person to focus on adding color to an image, giving them less time to think about the things that make them anxious. Coloring is better for reducing anxiety than reading because it puts your mind in a more relaxed state.

3. Improves Brain Function

When you’re coloring, you might notice that your mind is quieter and more relaxed. Your brain focuses on coloring in the image in front of you, preventing unwanted thoughts from getting in the way. As a result, you may experience better brain function because coloring activates different areas of the brain.

Most activities use either the right or left side of your brain, but coloring uses both. Choosing colors to use activates the creative part of your brain while coloring in the shapes activates the logical side. Both of these sides of your brain work together to create a finished product. It’s one of the few hobbies that exercise both cerebral hemispheres. Some other popular examples include reading and writing.

4. Improves Motor Skills

Closeup of coloring book

Motor skills improve the function of your body’s muscles. When you’re coloring on a piece of paper, you’re using motor skills and hand-eye coordination that you wouldn’t get from scrolling on a phone. Using precise motions and grips improves the muscles on your hands and fingers. By focusing on coloring inside the lines, your hands and eyes will be more in sync when you perform a variety of activities. Other hobbies that might improve your motor skills are sculpting and crossword puzzles.

5. Creates a Meditative State

When you meditate, you relax your mind and go into a state of contemplation or reflection. Coloring can have a similar effect mentally. That’s why art therapy is often used to help people relax and de-stress. Coloring won’t replace art therapy, but it’s a great way to enter a meditative state.

Coloring helps you focus on the project in front of you instead of focusing on other worries or stressors. While you’re getting creative, it can help your mind get a new perspective, leading to positive solutions in your life. But most importantly, it helps you relax and gives your body a chance to recover from an exhausting day. So, if meditating isn’t for you, coloring is a great alternative to get you in that calming state.

6. Improves Sleep

A lot of popular hobbies involve staring at a screen, which can make it harder to fall asleep, according to studies. Instead of scrolling through your phone before you go to bed, you can color to avoid blue light from disrupting your sleep routine. By coloring before bedtime instead of using electronics, your body will produce a healthy amount of melatonin to make sleep easier.

Since coloring can help relax the body, that’s another way it promotes good sleep. Coloring will have the most positive effects if you do it within two hours of your bedtime.

7. Reduces Boredom

Woman using adult coloring book

As an adult, it can be difficult to find new hobbies to enjoy. There are lots of hobbies that are time-consuming, expensive, or involve staring at a screen, none of which are ideal after a long, exhausting work day. So, coloring is a great way to pass the time without leaving you feeling tired and overwhelmed. If you ever have a lazy day where you’re not sure what to do, a coloring book could be the perfect activity for a calming afternoon.

8. Improves Focus

Everyone has trouble focusing at times, so coloring might help. You need to focus your attention on the image in front of you to make sure you’re using the colors you want while coloring in the lines.

Coloring works the frontal lobe of your brain to help you with organizing and problem-solving. If you regularly color, it can improve your focus level. Thus, you’ll be able to focus on your coloring project and also have better focus during other daily activities.

9. Increases Positivity

Woman sitting by table enjoying coloring

Coloring is a great way to disconnect and put your negative thoughts behind you. All your focus is put into the picture you’re creating, so it helps you feel more positive and empowered as you color. Most people find joy in being creative and using vibrant colors, so it’s a great way to push your negative emotions away, helping you feel more positive in your day-to-day life.

You may also feel positive after coloring because it encourages you to embrace the imperfect. There’s no right or wrong way to color, so there’s no pressure to make your picture the best. The judgments and expectations we face from other activities fade away when we color, leaving us to enjoy the beauty and simplicity of art.

10. Encourages Creativity

As kids, we had lots of opportunities to be creative through school, playtime, and art projects. Sadly, many adults find it harder to set aside time to be creative. Coloring is an easy way for adults to add some creativity to their lives. Choosing the colors and designs of each picture can help adults have fun being creative while exercising areas of their brain that may not get exercised enough.

Being creative is a great way to help someone grow and learn more about themselves. Coloring regularly may also help you be more aware of colors, making you better at choosing room designs and clothing colors for yourself. It may also help you think outside of the box in professional settings.

11. Embraces Your Inner Child

Coloring and drinking coffee

“Childish” is often used as an insult, but being child-like at times is nothing to be ashamed of. Coloring is a simple activity that can bring back positive childhood memories. Children often find pleasure in the little things, and it’s something we need to do more as adults. Reconnecting with a child-like sense of wonder is a great way to stay optimistic about life.

Embracing your inner child is great for people who are hard on themselves. It can help break negative thinking patterns and add more joy and simplicity to daily routines. Even though coloring is usually thought of as a kid activity, it shouldn’t be overlooked as an adult hobby too.

Get Back Into Coloring!

There are countless reasons to get back into coloring. It’s great for adults experiencing a lot of stress or people looking to pick up a fun, calming hobby. Even those who color simply because they enjoy it will reap all these therapeutic benefits. So, everyone can experience positive effects when getting a new coloring book.