The Scientific Benefits of Coloring

If research-backed facts are the kind of thing that sparks your interest, wellness expert Brett Blumenthal is about to be your new favorite person. Her book, 52 Small Changes for the Mindteaches that small lifestyle changes are the foundation of overall health and well-being, leading to improved memory, less stress, increased productivity and sustained happiness. Here, Brett tackles the following question: Why are coloring books such a hit?

Walk into any bookstore today and you’ll find a whole table—maybe even a whole bookcase—dedicated to adult coloring books.

I’m not talking about “mature content”; rather, these coloring books, unlike versions geared towards children, have detailed images with fine lines that require focus to complete. While it may seem like everyone is regressing back to childhood, there’s a good reason why adult coloring books are so popular.

Put simply, it’s all about cultivating a creative outlet.

Why Creativity Matters

In a 2010 review published by the American Journal of Public Health, researchers looked at more than one hundred studies about the impact of art on health and healing. What they found was a clear connection between the two.

Participating in creative therapies—such as art, performance, writing, and playing music—has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, distress, depression, and negative emotions. Further, they can improve flow and spontaneity, expression, positive identity, and positive emotions.

Enjoying a creative outlet is a fun yet productive way to give your mind a break from day-to-day responsibilities. When we immerse ourselves in something creative, we become distracted from our stressors, and walk away from our session with a clearer mind and more relaxed. When we are creative, we give ourselves freedom to explore and express ourselves in a way that is most natural and comfortable to us, which allows for a deeper level of self-awareness.

Expression through creativity also builds confidence and self-esteem: you are in full control of what you do creatively, as opposed to relying on what others think or want.

Scientific Benefits of Coloring

Find Your Coloring Book

Whether you enjoyed coloring books as a kid or not, you can take advantage of this creativity-boosting activity now:

  • Pick a Genre: It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices, so start by buying one coloring book that features images of things you enjoy: animals, patterns, tattoos … etc. Here are some ideas.
  • Pick a Color Palette: What are your top 3 favorite colors? Create color palettes that focus on colors you love! This is YOUR art—if you don’t love orange, don’t use it.
  • Schedule Coloring Time: Make time to enjoy coloring. Take a coloring book with you on the train during your commute, or block off a period on your calendar so you are more likely to take the break to create. Try 10-15 minutes, 3-5 times per week.

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Like Brett’s advice? You’ll probably also like her 10 simple ways to get back into reading again. Here are some other posts you might be interested in:

Brett Blumenthal

Brett Blumenthal

Brett Blumenthal is the internationally bestselling author of 52 Small Changes for the Mind, 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You, and more. She is certified by WELCOA (Wellness Council of America) and AFAA (Athletics and Fitness Association of America). She lives in North Carolina with her family.
Brett Blumenthal

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  • Carolina Bajao June 9, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Thank you for this info. I have always been fascinated with colors and designs. I do really want to explore further my “creative” aptitudes in art, if there are any. What do you suggest? I love sceneries and anything that displays lights and colors, graceful lines.


  • Jade Brunet January 3, 2017 at 11:26 am

    I was interested to know more about the benefits of coloring. I did not realize that coloring helps a person to be more creative. This would be helpful in training your mind to think through solutions to problems in life. Something to think about would be to find coloring books with pleasant pictures that will spark this creativity.


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