The first time I came across a coloring book designed especially for adults was in my local upscale stationary store. I was looking for a new coloring book for my daughter, but my eye was drawn to a display of large, beautiful books published by Usborne for grownups. Of course I had to get one. Since then I’ve been hooked.
I’ve seen mandala coloring books, coloring patterns drawn by well-known illustrators and books with detailed designs in the style of Zendoodles.
Why so popular? Well, it turns out that coloring is good for adults in exactly the same way it is good for children. Focus on coloring a page stills our minds, while also stimulating the brain areas that control motor skills, creativity, and the senses (at least 3 of them, please don’t eat your crayons!).
Psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala, quoted in this article from Huffpost Spain, describes how coloring activates both halves of the brain and promotes relaxation:
The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills [coordination necessary to make small, precise movements]. The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.
What do you need to get yourself this kind of relaxation? Not much, which is another benefit of the activity – you can do it almost anywhere. You just need a picture to color and something to color with. Crayons, colored pencils, markers or gel pens all work fine. No special art supplies are required and there is no wrong way to do this.
Here are some of the coloring books I seen for grown ups:
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Mandala patterns were used in relaxation therapies by Carl Jung in the early 20th century. The form is even older – the word “mandala” comes from Sanskrit and means “circle” or “spirit” and in eastern culture represents the universe or unity. Some believe that focusing on a question or intent while coloring or drawing a mandala is a powerful way to facilitate meditation and access your inner intuition.
- Coloring Animal Mandalas by Wendy Piersall
- Nature Mandalas Coloring Book from Design Originals
- Mystical Mandala Coloring Book from Dover
- The Mandala Coloring Book by Jim Gogarty
- Lisa Congdon’s Just Add Color Series (there are 3 in this series)
- Dapper Animals from Design Originals
- Day of the Dead Coloring Book by Thaneeya McArdle
- Creative Coloring Animals from Design Originals
- Creative Haven Steampunk Designs Coloring Book
- Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book by Johanna Basford. (There is also a line of beautiful post cards from this illustrator.)
- Color Me Calm by Lacy Mucklow
- Lots of Things to Find And Color from Usborne
- Angie’s Extreme Coloring Books
- Between The Lines: An Expert Level Coloring Book
- Girls and Stuff: A Coloring Book by Juliana Horner
Print Your Own!
- I have a printable coloring sheets board on Pinterest with links to pages for both children and adults. Most of these are free.
- If you sign up for Dover’s email list, they send out free coloring sheets to subscribers regularly
- There are also sites that have free mandala coloring pages for either kids or adults.
So the next time your kids want to color, pull out your own coloring book and join them. Coloring is now a favorite after-dinner-but-before-bed activity in our house.