Coloring for Calmness: How to Manage Anxiety with Coloring
Can you color your way to calmness? The research says you can. So how do you color in ways that sooth, support, and relax you? Find out here.
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I am huge supporter of using art to boost mental health and well-being. I even double majored in art and psychology in college with the intention of becoming an art therapist one day. Although my career took another path, I'm still an avid believer in the benefits of coloring and other art for creating a sense of calmness, contentment, or relaxation. So here's everything you need to know about coloring for calmness.
Why to color for calmness
Research has found that adult coloring books can reduce anxiety . This is likely because anxiety often involves worry or rumination—two mental processes where negative thoughts run through the mind decreasing a sense of calm.
Any activity that distracts the mind enough to short-circuit these thoughts tends to be good for anxiety. For example, one study showed that focusing on an unrelated problem helped reduce rumination . In this case, the distraction involved generating solutions to an unrelated problem, choosing a solution, and then giving yourself a pat on the back for doing so. So coloring appears to be just the right amount of distraction to derail ruminative thoughts and decrease stress.
How to color for calmness
The research shows that any ol' coloring wont do. If our goal is to color for calmness, then it's important that the designs are complex enough to keep the mind preoccupied. This can help increase focus and mindfulness. Geometric shapes or complex designs are just right.
As an anxious child, I naturally gravitated towards complex coloring. We got mazes to complete at school and I would color them in when I was done, making each new branch a new color. As I grew older, I started coloring in my mom's astrology charts. And in college, I started making collages of sequins and beads. Each sequin has to be placed one at a time requiring just the right amount of focus for calm. I personally found it super helpful.
Video: More on how and why to color for calmness
Coloring books for calmness
If you want a creative way to manage your anxiety, here are some coloring books that are likely good for coloring for calmness:
2. Let that Sh*t Go, BUDDHA ZEN CALMNESS COLORING BOOK for Mindfulness and Stress Relief: Anti stress art therapy coloring book
3. Celtic Cross Coloring Book: A book of Celtic Cross coloring designs for calmness and relaxation (Volume 1)
4. Adult Coloring Book: Key Yoga Poses You Can Color: 50 Asanas To Boost Mental Focus and Enhance Calmness
6. 50 Fabulous Mandalas Coloring Book: A stress-relieving assortment of amazing and detailed designs for adults
9. Inspirational Quotes Love Coloring Book: Positive And Wise Motivational Sayings Love, Motivational Sayings Images For Confidence And Relaxation
10. Buddha Art: Buddhist books Reduce Stress art therapy coloring book, 42 pictures for Improve Mental Health
Supplies for coloring for calmness
Hopefully you found some coloring books that you like. Here are some more supplies that can make your coloring experiences more relaxing and enjoyable.
Video: More music to listen to while coloring for calmness
Video: Even more crafts to do for clamness
1. Curry, N.A. and T. Kasser, Can coloring mandalas reduce anxiety? Art Therapy, 2005. 22(2): p. 81-85.
2. Hilt, L.M. and S.D. Pollak, Getting out of rumination: Comparison of three brief interventions in a sample of youth. Journal of abnormal child psychology, 2012. 40(7): p. 1157-1165.
About Dr. Tchiki Davis
Dr. Davis is founder of The Berkeley Well-Being Institute. After getting her PhD in psychology at Berkeley, she started creating online content & programs to boost well-being—some of these have reached more than a million people. As author of Outsmart Your Smartphone, and contributor to Psychology Today, The Greater Good Science Center, and Shine Text, Dr. Davis aims to share her insights on happiness & health with people all across the world. Learn more about Dr. Davis.