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Adult Coloring Books & Pages

  1. What Are Adult Coloring Books?
  2. What Are Adult Coloring Pages?
  3. Health Benefits
  4. Adult Coloring vs. Art Therapy
  5. Getting Started With Adult Coloring
  6. Relevant and Related Searches

What Are Adult Coloring Books?

As you may have noticed, adult coloring books are everywhere right now. No longer the reserve of out-of-ideas teachers and rainy days at home, coloring books are storming the best-seller charts and quickly attracting a dedicated following of fully-grown enthusiasts. The phenomenon is clear to see, but the question remains: why?

The answer is pretty simple – coloring, it seems, is beneficial to our mental health. For a while now, psychologists and mental health professionals have been “prescribing” coloring books as a way for patients to manage stress, focus and get creative. Always the innovator, this practice dates all way back to the work of Carl Jung, though it’s only relatively recently that adult coloring has gone from a niche tool of professionals to something that enjoys mainstream recognition.[1]

What Are Adult Coloring Pages?

Adult coloring pages are simply printable pages, available on countless sites across the web, for enjoying a spot of adult coloring. Adult coloring pages come in all kinds, from super intricate kaleidoscopic patterns to simple designs fit for the coloring novice. Best of all, they’re totally free.

The Health Benefits of Adult Coloring Books & Pages

Although it may seem like just the latest fad, research suggests that adult coloring books and pages can be useful in managing a range of mental and emotional problems.[2] They’re no silver bullet, but may be useful for those experiencing high levels of stress, difficulty focussing or those without a creative outlet.

Let’s take a closer look:[3]

Stress Relief

People suffering from excessive levels of stress or anxiety may find that coloring books or pages help to bring short-term relief. By soothing the amygdala region of the brain – the part associated with fear and stress – it’s possible for coloring to calm us down and ease us away from stressful thoughts. Like meditation, the act of coloring allows us to partially switch off from negative, stress-inducing thoughts and focus on what’s in front of us instead.


Coloring requires concentration. Choosing the color scheme, avoiding mistakes, ensuring the finished product is exactly how we envisaged it – all of this encourages us to limit our distractions, put our heads down and really focus. This kind of focus can be helpful in other parts of our lives, whether at work in a meeting or at home.


Although coloring books and pages offer a somewhat structured form of creativity, they can still be looked at as a creative outlet, especially for those of us with few other artistic pastimes. This creativity is good for us in a number of ways, including helping with anxiety, stress and negative thoughts. What’s clear is that being creative is a tangible way of sharing something positive with the world, even if the outlines are provided for us.

Adult Coloring vs. Art Therapy

What may come as a surprise is that the rise of adult coloring books and pages has caused a degree of controversy in some circles. Specifically, in art therapy circles.

Art therapy is a well-established profession, performed by highly trained and experienced art therapists, which, according to the American Art Therapy Association, should be seen as an “integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.”[4] To some in the field, adult coloring, while sharing some of the same goals as art therapy, is lacking in substance compared to professional art therapy.

This distinction between adult coloring and art therapy is an important one to keep in mind. While adult coloring can be an effective and enjoyable way to manage stress, anxiety and other things, it should not be thought of as a long-term solution to mental or emotional problems. It is, however, a good introduction to the use of art as a means of self-help which may be useful as a stepping stone to other forms of therapy, including art therapy.

Getting Started With Adult Coloring

Part of the appeal of adult coloring is its simplicity – all you need are two things: something to color and something to color with. There are, however, a lot of options in each department, so let’s take a closer look.

Something to Color: Coloring Books & Pages

A good option when you’re just starting out with adult coloring is to print off a few free adult coloring pages from the web. This way, you’ll get a taste for adult coloring without having to splash any cash on a full coloring book.

A quick Google search will throw up a whole host of sites where these pages are available, and most will allow you to narrow your search to the type of design you’re after. These could be anything, from the ultra-intricate to the very basic. Print off whatever design catches your eye and you’re set to go.

Once you’ve got a taste for adult coloring, it’s time to step it up a gear and invest in your first adult coloring book. Just a few years ago, the options here would be pretty limited. Today, it’s a very different story. All the big book retailers (on and offline) now stock adult coloring books of all kinds. From Japanese woodblock prints and complex mandalas to novelty celebrity titles, they’re all there and generally pretty affordable.

Something to Color With: Pencils

Next you’re going to need something to color with. The advice all adult coloring enthusiasts will give a newcomer is this: Avoid crayons at all costs. While crayons are perfect for kids, as an adult, thick-tipped crayons can be infuriating when trying to stay within the lines and get intricate.

Generally, the best option is colored pencils. Coloring pencils are easy to find and available at all price points. When starting out, perhaps pick up some basic, cheap pencils to get a taste for it, before moving up to some more professional pencils as you go. As you get better, blending and shading will probably become more of a concern, meaning a higher quality set of pencils may be necessary.

  1. WellnessMama. “Health Benefits of Adult Coloring Books.” April 28, 2017. Accessed October 12, 2017. 

  2. Medical Daily. “The Therapeutic Science Of Adult Coloring Books: How This Childhood Pastime Helps Adults Relieve Stress.” October 8, 2015. Accessed October 12, 2017. 

  3. Huffington Post. “7 Reasons Adult Coloring Books Are Great for Your Mental, Emotional and Intellectual Health.” November 24, 2015. Accessed October 12, 2017. 

  4. American Art Therapy Association. “About Art Therapy.” Accessed October 13, 2017.