Adult coloring books online are one of the hottest new trends right now – largely because they take us back to feelings from our childhood.
Those feelings bring us back to a time of peace and clarity – and make it possible for us to use this as fuel to recreate less stressful times. This is particularly useful right now in the uncertain times we are living in.
There are many other reasons besides nostalgia that adults flock to adult coloring books online.
“Coloring books have been shown to reduce stress and promote relaxation due to their inherent qualities, such as the ability to remain present and focused on the image and provide temporary relief from life stressors,” Martha Dorn of The Art Therapy Project, a New York-based nonprofit organization that provides art therapy to trauma survivors, told Today.com.
“Similarly, the images in coloring books are pre-made, so the creative energy is placed into the catharsis of repetitive coloring strokes to complete the image,” Dorn continued.
This reflects in the fact that 12 million adult coloring books were sold in the U.S. in 2015, which resulted in a 6.6 percent sales boost of adult nonfiction and actually caused a colored-pencil shortage.
Here are seven the reasons besides nostalgia that we love adult coloring books online:
1. They’re totally customizable
It turns out adult coloring books online are not all created equal.
“For example, some coloring books have very small detailed images that would really appeal to some people but to other people would totally stress them out! Other coloring books have bigger images that you can draw/add to rather than just coloring in for people who are in the mood to be a bit more adventurous,” art therapist and director of Creative Arts Therapy at Tribeca Therapy Heather Mayone Kiely told Today.com.
Take for example the Crush and Color: Jason Momoa: A Coloring Book of Fantasies with an Epic Dreamboat 35-pager, which offers life-like illustrations of Games of Thrones actor Jason Mamoa meditating, drinking tea, and walking his dogs.
“What better way to spend time with the very unattainable object of your desires than by spending a quiet day indoors coloring?” writes Mashable author Sofia Shariman.
Now that’s what we call customizable. Wink wink.
This ability to choose what works for you and makes you ticks is just one reason adult coloring books online have become so popular.
2. Adult coloring books online are a form of mindfulness
Research shows that adult coloring books online have the power to reduce stress and anxiety by way of mindfulness and even lift negative moods.
“Within the last decade, adult coloring books have surged in popularity. The vast selection available today includes abstract images, mandalas, and your beloved characters ranging from Marvel to Disney, and anything in between (like a famous Facebook kitty, Pusheen). If you prefer, you can shift the scenery as you explore a secret garden, lost ocean, or perhaps an enchanted forest,” writes Shainna Ali Ph.D., LMHC in Psychology Today.
“Themes aside, these activity books have often been best sellers and claim to provide users with the opportunity to connect with their inner artists, reduce stress, and live happier lives,” continues Ali.
This sentiment has been backed by many studies, including this study by Nancy A. Curry and Tim Kasser, Ph.D. In the study, anxiety was induced in a group of undergraduates, after which the individuals were provided with blank pages, plaid prints, or mandalas.
After coloring for just 20 minutes, both designs decreased the participants’ anxiety levels.
3. It makes for keepable art
Many people find a lot of satisfaction from seeing and displaying the results of their creative process.
Seeing art you’ve created on your wall has the power to not only lift your negative mood but also give you confidence.
For extra points, hang it on your refrigerator the way you do with your kids’ art.
Adult coloring books online are no longer reserved for kindergarteners.
4. It’s a form of therapy
Art therapy has long been a mental health staple due to its ability to help patients process emotions that are otherwise too difficult to handle.
Art therapy has a way of “speaking” the “words” and emotions we are normally too scared to express.
While adult coloring books online are not a substitute for more traditional art therapy with a trained therapist, it still appears to have plenty of mental health benefits, according to the authors of a study in the Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal.
In the study, researchers compared adults who used coloring books with those working in a studio using art supplies and trained therapists providing discussion and guidance but not explicit direction. The study found both activities resulted in lower stress and anxiety levels.
“For many adults, entering an art studio, having a blank page in front of them, and being asked to create art can be quite an anxiety-provoking experience, so much so that most of them avoid this experience altogether,” the researchers found. “Yet it is precisely through having this initial discomfort and leaning into it, rather than stepping away from it, that leads to a change in one’s view of self,” according to the Journal.
Wondering how art therapists actually operate? Art therapists are trained in both art and therapy and some of the areas they’re educated in include human development, psychological theories, clinical practice, spiritual, multicultural, artistic traditions, and the healing potential of art.
These professionals work with people of all ages, including individuals, couples, and families. Some of the places they work include mental health, rehabilitation, medical and forensic institutions, community outreach programs, wellness centers; schools, nursing homes, and independent practices.
5. Satisfy your inner child
One of the little-understood benefits of adult coloring books is that they help channel our inner child, a process deeply tied to our mental health and with many possible healing benefits.
“To begin with, the inner child is real. Not literally. Nor physically. But figuratively, metaphorically real. It is–like complexes in general–a psychological or phenomenological reality, and an extraordinarily powerful one at that. Indeed, most mental disorders and destructive behavior patterns are, as Freud first intimated, more or less related to this unconscious part of ourselves. We were all once children, and still have that child dwelling within us. But most adults are quite unaware of this. And this lack of conscious relatedness to our own inner child is precisely where so many behavioral, emotional and relationship difficulties stem from,” writes Stephen A. Diamond Ph.D. in Psychology Today.
“True adulthood hinges on acknowledging, accepting, and taking responsibility for loving and parenting one’s own inner child. For most adults, this never happens,” Diamond goes on to say.
Adult coloring books online can begin this process in a non-threatening way.
6. Use it as a social opportunity
Filling out adult coloring books online doesn’t have to be a solitary act.
In fact, it can be a great opportunity for socialization, especially for introverts, who tend to like doing things on their own while socializing.
Take the Adult Coloring Club at the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library, for instance. The women of the Adult Coloring Club have been meeting for five years to color together.
“It’s amazing how the books have different styles,” Gail Hilliker, an original member told the Ponte Vedra Recorder.
“All they need to do is bring their imaginations,” according to assistant brand manager and reference and adult services librarian Anne Crawford, who added that coloring clubs are “a trend in libraries that is sweeping the nation” and “an opportunity for people to come together and be authentic and destress.”
7. Take a break from reality
Studies show that taking breaks from everything through activities like playing video games and using adult coloring books online is actually very healthy, as long as it’s done in moderation.
“Those who took a silent rest break reported that they felt less engaged with work and experienced worry as a result, whereas those who participated in the guided relaxation activity saw reductions in negative affect and distress. Only the video game players reported that they felt better after taking the break,” according to this study by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
So there you have it, folks. Now break out those coloring books and get to work.
Here are some links to the best adult online coloring books we’ve found (we hope you enjoy them as much as we do):
2. The Jason Mamoa adult coloring book online we mentioned earlier.
6. Crayola’s free templates for adults
7. Coloring Pages for Adults by Supercoloring.com