Every major news outlet is reporting about the adult coloring phenomenon. What once was an activity that kept so many of us entertained as children, is now resurfacing as a trend that adults are coming to love. Within the last decade adult coloring books have surged in popularity. The vast selection available today includes geometric patterns, mandalas, and anything in between.

The concept of adults devoting time in coloring books was considered silly and trivial. However, that notion is slowly going away. Psychiatrists as well as researchers have concluded that coloring is beneficial for adults, especially due to its de-stressing capabilities.

Art Therapy, Adult Coloring Books and Your Mental Health

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is a mental health profession in which the process of making and creating artwork is used to "explore feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem." 

"Coloring definitely has therapeutic potential to reduce anxiety, create focus or bring (about) more mindfulness," says Marygrace Berberian, a certified art therapist and the Clinical Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for the Graduate Art Therapy Program at NYU. Yet art therapy is not only about learning and improving yourself — it's a means of personal expression, too.

The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to do the following:

  • Therapy for Neurological and Mental Disorders
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Stimulates both cerebral hemispheres
  • Enhances focus and creativity
  • Reconcile emotional conflicts
  • Foster self-awareness
  • Manage behavior and addictions
  • Develop social skills
  • Improve reality orientation
  • Increase self-esteem


Just like meditation, coloring also allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus only on the moment, helping to alleviate free-floating anxiety. It can be particularly effective for people who aren't comfortable with more creatively expressive forms of art, says Marygrace Berberian, "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 adds.

Medical Daily shared an article in which “Dr. Stan Rodski, a neuropsychologist, says that coloring elicits a relaxing mindset, similar to what you would achieve through meditation.” The neuropsychologist further mentions that “like meditation, coloring allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus on the moment. Tasks with predictable results, such as coloring or knitting, can often be calming.”

Dr. Stan Rodski tells the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, “the most amazing things occurred — we started seeing changes in heart rate, changes in brainwaves.” He also mentions “there are three key elements—repetition, pattern, and detail—that prompt positive neurological responses in participants. When you have things that you can predict will happen in a certain way, it's calming for us.”


Groundbreaking research in 2005 proved anxiety levels dropped when subjects colored geometric patterns or mandalas, which are round frames with geometric patterns inside. 

A study published in the Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association provides support that coloring geometric patterns or mandalas actually does help lower stress and anxiety levels. Their interest was in examining coloring therapy which combines elements of art therapy and meditation. In the study, 84 undergraduate students received “a brief anxiety-induction,” and were randomly assigned to color either a mandala, plaid form, or blank piece of paper. 

Curry and Kasser reported, “that anxiety levels declined approximately the same for the mandala- and plaid-coloring groups and that both of these groups experienced more reduction in anxiety than did the unstructured-coloring group. Ultimately, it was the the complexity and structure of the plaid and mandala designs [that] drew the participants into a meditative-like state that helped reduce their anxiety.

Geometric patterns or mandalas have complexity and the structure grabs the adults attention for creativity and puts logic into a relaxed state. These geometric patterns can help with stress and anxiety. Coloring geometric patterns in a book will help turn it into actual art pieces. You can use it to decorate your home and show your friends your new hobby. 

When we find a great coloring book with geometric patterns, it keeps us focused on the activity at hand. It’s beneficial when we distract ourselves from using technology for awhile. 

Today, everyone uses technology. Whether it’s trying to finish work on their laptop or scrolling through social media. Statistics say, “67% of cell owners find themselves checking their phones for messages, alerts, or calls - even if they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating.” During sleep, “44% of cell owners slept with their phone next to their bed because they thought they missed messages, calls or other updates during night.” Knowing that technology has a major influence in our daily life, a hobby such as coloring can stop us from using it even for just ten minutes.

For some, coloring can be nerve-racking because sometimes you doubt that you are not actually drawing or that you are not precise when coloring the patterns. 

Do your best to not worry. There is no skill needed. 

Even if you screw up coloring, there is no real consequence. It’s NOT about being perfect; it’s about relaxing to forget about the issues. When you finished coloring a page, there is a sense of accomplishment. It adds positivity to your everyday life.