How Coloring Books Relieve Stress

Coloring books are enjoyed a surge of popularity right now. An activity once considered only for children has been embraced by adults looking for a calming, stress-reducing hobby. Oddly, the interest in coloring for grown-ups means we’ve begun to shed some light on how coloring books relieve stress & positively affect children.

Once you learn to draw within the lines a coloring book is a gateway to relaxation. Researchers wanted to know why the seemingly mindless act of coloring has such a calming effect on us. The results were interesting, and suggest coloring books do more than just develop a child’s hand-eye coordination and motor skills. Coloring also offers a simple and affordable way to reduce children’s stress levels.

Most modern entertainment, whether it be movies, video games, sports, or theme park rides, give people a bit of an adrenalin rush by stimulating the brain’s fight-or-flight mechanism. This makes for an exciting football game or the pleasant thrill you get during a movie action sequence, but does little to reduce our stress levels, as our brains are constantly bombarded with stimuli.

Using coloring books reduces activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls fight or flight. Coloring quiets the mind—instead of worrying about stressors your child is focused on the page.

Art therapists speculate coloring books encourage children (and adults) to use their brain’s left and right hemispheres in tandem. While the left hemisphere focuses on following patterns and staying within the lines, the right helps us choose colors and plan which colors will go where in the overall design. Some people have compared the sense of calm that comes from coloring to meditation without the religious connotations.

While most of the studies have been performed on adults, there’s no reason to assume the same results won’t be seen in children’s brains. And that’s important, because children experience stress as much, if not more so, than adults. Like adults, they need time to calm down and chill out, but unlike grown-ups, they aren’t as experienced at handling the effects of stress.

If the current research is correct, keeping a few coloring books on hand can help the whole family relax and enjoy themselves. Encourage your child to color by offering personalized coloring books featuring the child’s name throughout the book.

So pull out the coloring books, grab some crayons, and spend some family time coloring together. You’ll be amazed how relaxing it is!

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