Adult coloring books aren't just fun. A gamut of research suggests that they're also therapeutic.
Psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala tells The Huffington Post that coloring “brings out our imagination and takes us back to our childhood, a period in which we most certainly had a lot less stress.”
Ayala explains that coloring in these books involves both logic (by which we color forms) and creativity (mixing and matching colors). This combination incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills, and it actually lowers the activity of the amygdala, a part of the brain involved in controlling emotion affected by stress. In other words, adult coloring books can actually help to destress us after a long day at work or a tough week in the office. When we focus on coloring and not on the clutter happening in our minds, we relax.
Because coloring has such a powerful effect on adults, too, many publishers around the world have started creating coloring books specifically for adults. For example, the French publisher Hachette has a collection called Art-Thérapie with 20 de-stress volumes, while, in the UK, illustrator Mel Simone Elliot's coloring books like the Colour Me Good series are popular.
Here are 35 of the most cathartic adult coloring books (including free ones!) to test out just how relaxing they are for yourself.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.