Does Coloring Relieve Stress? – Best Adult Coloring Books Online

Coloring for adults, you hear a lot about it the last years!

Didn’t we all used to make coloring pictures? As a child, who couldn’t color in a new coloring book for hours on end? You were completely absorbed in the activity of coloring, while sticking the tip of your tongue out 😉

If only you could find the time for so much creativity, with the busy life you lead. How relaxing that would be…

But wait! Once again, you can relax by coloring in a beautiful adult coloring picture after a long working day. Even for adults it can be nice to focus completely on coloring and leave other things for what they are.




Positive Effects Of Coloring

Then what is it that makes coloring so much fun? Coloring has a lot of positive effects.

Below are six advantages of Art therapy, in a nutshell, as coloring is an excellent part of it:

1. SELF-CARE: You take a moment for yourself. Call it a little date with yourself!

2. CREATE SOMETHING NEW: Your creativity will be tapped and you will discover new sides of yourself.

3. CALM YOUR MONKEY MIND: It gives peace of mind; your most important choice at that moment is which color you choose. It helps you to concentrate on just one thing. Throw multitasking overboard, because research shows that multitasking does not benefit the execution of different tasks.

4. DESTRESS: It works stress relieving. Even if you feel less comfortable for a period or experience a lot of stress, coloring is a nice way to clear your head and stop grinding for a while.

5. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS: It increases your awareness. By putting your focus on a coloring picture, you’re automatically shutting out the outside world for a while. It’s a quiet activity that takes little effort and doesn’t suck energy like watching TV for example does. By the motor movement of your hand and focusing on what the drawing will look like, you come into a kind of flow and get relaxed. Therefore, it can be a good form of mindfulness or meditation.

6. EMPOWER YOURSELF: It increases your self-confidence because you get to choose the colors and what you want the drawing to look like.




Is There Scientific Proof?

Not much scientific research has been done on the influence of coloring on adults. This also makes it difficult to say whether all the claims are correct.

Simon Ball¹ investigated whether coloring had a positive effect on the well-being of the participants, compared to drawing. It turned out that there was no significant difference between coloring, drawing something yourself and then coloring it in, or just drawing. The participants of all three groups were more relaxed after the session, but there was no significant difference between the groups. What you can conclude from this is that it doesn’t matter whether you color or draw (on a blank piece of paper you make something up and draw it yourself). However, adults who often color or draw do come to rest.

Jennifer Drake² examined the benefits of drawing over time. In her research 40 students were questioned. They were asked to think of the saddest event that ever happened to them. Then they were allowed to draw for fifteen minutes.




The group of students was divided into two groups. The first group was asked to draw something separate from the event, which distracted people from the dissatisfied thoughts and feelings. The second group was asked to draw something related to the event. These people had to express their feelings through the drawing. This procedure was repeated for four days. At various points in the process the participants had to fill in a questionnaire to measure their negative emotions. As it turned out, the first group of students became more cheerful by drawing than the second group. Drawing as a distraction has an effect already after fifteen minutes. Drawing is an easy, powerful way for people to get in a better mood, at least in the short term,’ says Drake. We’re now investigating whether the benefits also apply over a longer period, for example a month.

If you want to find out more about what coloring can do for one’s mental health, I highly recommend Lucy’s blog ‘Coloring in the midst of madness‘. Lucy has a severe anxiety disorder and adult coloring plays an important role in her life. She also has lots of reviews about books and coloring materials.


Different types of Coloring Books

The hype started with mandalas and it is striking that many books still have many images related to Eastern religions, symbols and spirituality. Such as the hand of Fatima, lotus flowers, paisley prints, fantasy animals and Buddhas. Coincidence? Mandala’s drawing helps people get out of their heads, because it shifts their attention and helps them relax.

But also the round shapes, the repetition of patterns, the graceful details and organic images of animals and nature, which you regularly encounter in books like these, have a calming effect.




Maybe you prefer to draw something more realistic, like birds, famous people or cities?

What’s also fun to do is color by number. It’s nice when you don’t have to think about the colors yourself and a beautiful drawing comes out anyway!

In that case you can for example choose one of the coloring books below:

Animals: Richard Merritt

Birds: Millie Marotta and Georgie Woolridge

Cities: Abi Daker and Steve McDonald

Color by Number: Joanna Webster

Portraits: Rachel Mintz


Click here for a website with more than 1500 coloring pages!


Digital Coloring

Currently, there are also a few colour apps, so you can colour the prettiest coloring pictures even with your smartphone. The big advantage is that this is much cheaper: you don’t have to by coloring books and materials, and you can get started right away.

Let me tip you off a few:

Colorfy: Adult Coloring Book is a wonderful app. Free downloads are available for both Android and Apple.

Color Therapy: It has amazing features, enables you to work with detail. Free download for Apple, currently not available for Android.

– Pigment: I love their people portraits and faces! Free downloads for both Android and Apple

Although these apps are nice and practical, I have to confess I prefer the real thing. Nothing beats the sound of pencils/pens on paper!

Have fun coloring and let me know if you liked my tips!

With love,

Catherine ❤.



¹ Ball, Simon (2016). The Effects of Coloring Books on Adults’ Well-Being.

² Drake, J. E., Hastedt, I., & James, C. (2016). Drawing to distract: Examining the psychological benefits of drawing over time. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 10(3), 325–331.


  1. Hey there, Catherine, I found your post enriching and enlightening, I work in the arts industry myself in South Africa, I manage a Centre of Arts and innovation for young people we use art as a tool and a language to teach critical life skills. Whenever we do the color theory my soul just lights up and your post just let me know why and I will definitely make a date with myself in the future.

  2. Tom

    Hi Catherine,

    What a great and important article. I never knew that an adult coloring book would relieve stress in us. I have been quite stressed lately with the lockdown and with working from home, and I have been trying to find things to relieve my stress.

    Maybe adult coloring could be something I try. I will let you know if I do and if it relieves my stress.

    Thank you for sharing such an informative and helpful article.

    All the best,


  3. Does coloring relieve stress-free printable adult coloring books is a very positive way to manage your stress inexpensively, I have used this technique in the past when I used to live with high anxiety and stress 24/7, and this allowed me to manage my stress to learn to live better with my anxiety?

    I also use to just sit in the evenings doodling, so are you familiar with doodling?


    1. Hi Jeff,

      Nice to hear from you!
      I’ve acquired myself a Doodle set for beginners, but I must confess I’m not so familiar with it and I didn’t do much with it so far. How do you experience it?
      Do you make certain figures/shapes or is it more of a freewheeling thing?

  4. I was so excited to find this article! I have been interested in coloring for grown-ups but am so busy – normally. I see we are going to be having quite a lot more time at home so I will be getting one of these and some pencils. I’m not too worried whether the claims of it making you more mindful are true or not (though I suspect they are). I just want to have fun and be taken back to my childhood.

    (I nearly downloaded one of the apps but I’m just going to treat myself to a book instead.)

    Thanks so much for the timely reminder about adult coloring!



  5. I love that colouring for adults has become such a big thing lately! It is a great way to de-stress and take your mind off things for awhile. It’s fun to get lost in your colouring on your own or even colour with your kids. I have taken up sketching lately too and I find it a fun and creative outlet. And I’ve discovered that I’m better at drawing than I thought!

  6. Thank you for introducing a lot of benefits of coloring.
    From the six positive effects of coloring, my favorite one is the 5th one: Practice Mindfulness. I liked the description of this benefit. I know that focusing on something without being stressed brings excellent benefits. As an example, simply looking at the flames during a campfire is highly beneficial for our mental health. I am sure that coloring has the same positive effect.

    I thought that coloring is a kind of drawing. So, it is great to know that there is a coloring book for adults. I agree that real coloring is much better than its digital counterpart. For now, I will try some digital programs you introduced. If I like coloring and find it helpful, I can try the real one.
    Thank you.

  7. I really enjoyed reading this and I agree that it does help relieve stress. While at the hospital a relative brought a coloring book and some colored pencils for me to color in. It definitely helped calm me, and gave me something else to focus my mind on instead of what was going on. The bright colors of the pencils helped too, because sometimes color has an effect on mood as well.
    All the Best,

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