Adult Colouring Books – Are They Just a Fad?

Adult colouring books. What do you think about them: childish & waste of money or relaxing & fun? Bookstore displays exploded with colouring books and colouring utensils; first there was just a few available, and then suddenly whole tables or sections devoted to the colouring craze. But is that all it is, a craze?

From personal experience and some research, here’s what I have discovered & am excited to share with you.



Benefit #1: Higher Cognitive Function & Training Your Brain

You’re looking at that detailed colouring page and instantly your brain starts considering what colours to use and interrupting the shapes on the page. This act of colouring seems easy enough -– maybe even childish — but did you know that you’re actually using multiple parts of your brain and by activating these certain parts you’re actually preventing your brain from producing negative thoughts?!

Believe it or not, coloring has intellectual benefits. So if you’re thinking colouring is for kids, you would be wrong (and for you adult Debbie-downers out there, aren’t we all kids at heart?). The act of colouring utilizes areas of the brain that enhance focus and concentration. It also helps with problem solving and organizational skills.

Coloring utilizes our frontal lobes and both hemispheres of the brain. Our frontal lobes are responsible for higher level activities and functions of the brain, and coloring detailed pictures activates all these areas [1]. By concentrating on colouring, we use the same parts of the brain that stops any anxiety-related mental imagery [1]. When we are thinking about patterns or colour choices, we are working on problem solving and fine motor skills [2].

Hobbies and crafts that require you to tap into your own creativity, such as coloring or knitting, are not only calming, but can have positive physical effects as well, such as changes in heart rate and brainwaves [1].

Benefit #2: Decrease Anxiety, Boredom & Stress

When we colour, we are distracting our brains, so to speak. The part of the brain that controls our fight or flight response, and keeps individuals in a heightened state of worry or panic is active when colouring. Colouring helps to let that anxiety-response down, and let your brain have some much needed rest and relaxation [3].

For many, boredom, lack of structure, and stress are the also triggers. This applies to individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorders, anxiety disorders, stress disorders, depressive disorders, eating and binge eating disorders, anger management issues, and substance abuse issues. Studies have shown that colouring can help tremendously with individuals with PTSD, anxiety, and stress issues, as they calm down our amygdala [3].

Studies done in Austrila show that colouring elicits a relaxing mindset, similar to what you would achieve through meditation. Like mediation, coloring allows us to switch off your brain from other thoughts and focus on the moment [1]. This parallels other sources that say concentrating on colouring can aid in the replacement of negative thoughts and images with pleasant ones.

Benefit #3: Custom Art for Your Home at a Fraction of the Price!

This benefit doesn’t need much of an explanation. Pick a colouring book that has sketches that appeal to you and that could match the theme of your home’s décor. For example, if your home (or room) is Bohemian-inspired (aka you love thrift stores) try Secret Paris, which is full of fun & funky photos of teacups, clothes & shoes.

Like a particular uncoloured sketch so much and are nervous to colour it in “wrong” or “not like it”?

First off, there are no rules to colouring! You want to colour outside the lines, do it! You want to colour the sky green instead of blue, you do it! And you know why? Beacause you’re an adult and you make your own choices – even if those choices involve colouring books!

Still feeling nervous about colouring (some of the sketches are pretty intimidating)? Make photocopies and test colour a few pages. Another thing that I have seen done is to colour multiple photocopies of the same image and highlight it as a series, each coloured in differently.


Shown above from top left to right:

  • Animal Kingdom by Millie Marotta
    Recommended for bird lovers (lots of bird) and for those interested in sea creates, insets, Safari animals and other forest critters.
    Click to Buy – Amazon
    *I own this one. See Personal Gallery section below for sample pages. 
  • Colours of Jane Austen by Indigo Colour
    Recommended to Jane Austen fans that want their own picturesque scenes and Mr. Darcy
    Click to Buy – Chapters
  • Harry Potter by Hot Topic
    Recommended for Harry Potter fans and those that want to either colour-in their own Hogwarts or defile Draco’s face (Mahahahaha!)
    Click to Buy – Amazon
  • Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford
    Recommended for underwater creature lovers. There are beautiful, detailed sketches of jellyfish, turtles, sharks and tropical fish.
    Click to Buy – Amazon
  • Secret Paris by Zoe de Las Cases
    Recommended for those who love French scenery, cute outfits, tea & sweets and any self-proclaimed  ‘foodies’ (there are cupcakes, fruits, veggies, and other delicious looking pages). Great variety in this colouring book!
    Click to Buy – Chapters
    *I own this one. See Personal Gallery section below for sample pages.


Personal Gallery

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Adult coloring books clearly help serve many purposes that are beneficial. They can be focused, therapeutic, relaxing, calming, problem solving, and organizational.

Still feel like colouring books are just a trend? Even if they feel like they are only the latest fad, why not try one out? You may just surprise yourself. And if afterwards you’re still not a fan, at least you new art for your home!

Let me know what you think of adult colouring books or share your artwork below!


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