More than an activity for children, many people find that the cathartic art of coloring, particularly intricate patterns and swirling mandalas, may help them destress. The first adult coloring book was published in the 1960s, but adults began embracing the idea en mass in April 2015 when illustrator Johanna Basford was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered. By the end of that year, 12 million adult coloring books were sold in the United States.

The Evidence for Coloring

Although the American Art Therapy Association does not formally recognize coloring as a type of art therapy, study findings have demonstrated its positive effects in various populations. Taking time each day to color pictures or designs can improve your mental health and is an inexpensive, accessible addition to your well-being routine.

The mandala, a circular and geometric design that has roots in ancient history, is a popular image found in adult coloring books. Coloring mandalas may alleviate anxiety, reduce symptoms of stress, and even trigger a meditative state, helping with anxious feelings.

Benefits go beyond mandalas, too: Drawing and creativity of all types can ease a person’s stress and anxiety. Artistic expression in various formats, including coloring and drawing, may reduce anxiety and boost enjoyment. Ashlock et al. found that using coloring books was equally beneficial for a person’s mental health as other creative outlets.

How to Practice

Take a break and download the pumpkin to color. Let your creativity run wild. You work hard, and you deserve it!