If you haven't colored since you were a child, you may want to consider giving it a try - particularly if you're feeling stressed and looking for a way to cope. Because coloring offers therapeutic benefits, it is endorsed by some mental health professionals as a stress relief strategy. You may find coloring designs created specifically to aid with stress relief to be a beneficial stress management technique.
Grown-Up Stress Relief Through Coloring
If you're looking for a way to relieve stress, consider setting aside a bit of time each week to color using these free coloring pages. Their abstract, symmetrical patterns have been designed with grown-up stress relief in mind.
Download one (or all) of the three free coloring pages provided here. Simply click the image of the coloring page you'd like to download and it will open as a PDF file that you can download and print. You can also save it to your computer for future use. If you need help with the downloads, see this guide for working with printables.
"Coloring can be a very beneficial form of art therapy for adults. It helps with symbolizing inner conflict so that it becomes clear and therefore easier to deal with," states Los Angeles-based Psychologist Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. She explains, "Because stress involves the feeling of not being in control, using motor skills to create an artistic piece makes the person feel they are actively doing something. That in itself calms the fear center of the brain, reduces the level of stress hormones in the body, and brings relief."
Dr. Raymond shares several additional ways that coloring can be a beneficial stress management tool. She states:
Dr. Jeanette Raymond "Putting a non-verbal version of the experience of stress inducers out there in a different language - the most primitive but potent language of shape, color, hue, texture, and size - allows the 'DNA' of stress that has no voice to be expressed."
"Allowing oneself to 'create' in the artistic endeavor means that you are loosening up all the tight muscles in your mind and body that restrict and constrict you in everyday life - leading to stress. Coloring/art gives you permission to free flow and not go for particular outcomes (a source of self-imposed stress)."
"The very act of creating an artistic piece that represents another part(s) of you can allow you to think outside the box and view yourself as more competent and less trapped in your situation, which is a huge source of stress."
"Using different parts of the brain during coloring engages the person in more 'holistic' experiences of themselves, which is a stress reducing mechanism."
"Art produced during coloring activities has no judgment or critical bias - there is therefore more reward for the artist, and dopamine receptors in the brain knock out the stress hormone effect."
Coloring can help lay the groundwork for productive discussions focused on stress relief as well. After coloring, it may be possible to verbalize and work through factors that led to stress. Dr. Raymond states, "The act of then putting into words what the suffering artist sees and what gets triggered in them, allows for an emotional release, a cleansing, and purification, and most of all a recalibration of the stress source so that it is no longer so harmful."
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Adult-Focused Coloring Books
If you find these coloring pages to be helpful, you may want to get a full coloring book of your own. According to the Huffington Post, "coloring books specifically for adults" have become a trend. One example is the Colorama Coloring Book, which features 100 designs designed especially for adults to relieve stress through coloring. Costing just under $13, the coloring book comes with a set of 12 colored pencils and a smaller, pocket-size version that you can carry with you for on-the-go stress relief through coloring.