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Mental Health

Unleash Your Creativity With These 12 Stress-Relieving Adult Coloring Books


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Almost everyone has some memory of coloring as a child. The creative pastime has been a popular way to captivate the imaginations of young boys and girls and fine-tune motor skills since before 1879, when the McLoughlin Brothers introduced the world to its Little Folks Painting Book. Now, more than 100 years later, coloring books are more prevalent than ever, with a push for older generations to get back to the simplistic, artistic roots of their youth with the best adult coloring books.

What are the benefits of adult coloring books? 

Though coloring books for adults began to circulate more widely widely in the 1960s as objects of satire, they wouldn’t become mainstream until the early 2010s, when people began to view them as therapeutic. 

Coloring for adults may have a number of positive effects on the mind and the psyche. Namely? Reducing anxiety and staying present. “Coloring definitely has therapeutic potential to reduce anxiety, create focus, or bring [about] more mindfulness,” Marygrace Berberian, a certified art therapist and the Clinical Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for the Graduate Art Therapy Program at NYU, told CNN.

Berberian’s claims have been backed by plenty of research. A 2005 study published in Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association found that coloring a plaid design or a mandala (an intricate spiritual symbol found in Hinduism and Buddhism practices), decreased anxiety after about 20 minutes.

A 2006 study from Psycho-Oncology showed that after coloring, female cancer patients “demonstrated a significant decrease in symptoms of distress … and significant improvements in key aspects of health-related quality of life.”  

Berberian said that these findings may be especially true for closed-off individuals. “My experience has been that those participants who are more guarded find a lot of tranquility in coloring an image. It feels safer and it creates containment around their process,” she told CNN

What’s more, adult coloring may enhance an increase in self-efficacy, creative agency, and openness to art therapy, as discovered by a 2017 study out of Drexel University. 

“Adult coloring … is a simple activity that takes us outside ourselves,” explained clinical psychologist Scott M. Bea, Psy.D., to the Cleveland Clinic Medical Center. “In the same way, cutting the lawn, knitting, or taking a Sunday drive can all be relaxing.”

What is the best adult coloring book? 

With adult coloring book options now available for practically every interest, every purpose, and every experience level, you’ll be hard-pressed to go awry when shopping for these stress-relieving finds. Still, we’ve gone ahead and done the legwork of sussing out the best-of-the-best for your personal needs. 

Read on for FIRST for Women’s picks for the best adult coloring books money can buy. 

This story originally appeared on our sister site, Woman’s World.

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