The Coloring Craze

By UB’s Andrea Watkins, LCSW

Currently, six out of the top twenty books on Amazon are adult coloring books. Who would’ve guessed! The coloring craze that is going on now is being hailed as an ultimate stress reliever, a type of meditation and helpful with anxiety and depression. Some people are calling themselves “colorists” and saying it’s their own form of therapy…

Now now, don’t get ahead of yourself!

Though coloring is a way to tap into your inner child and your creative side, it is not the end-all for therapy. In fact, Many art therapists are not big fans of coloring books. They believe that it is more of an “escape” rather than working through whatever stressors are happening in life. Also, coloring should not be a replacement for mindfulness and/or meditation. It can be a form of relaxation to get you ready for a meditative state, but it does not replace the importance of meditation itself, nor should it replace the importance of therapy when needed.

If you are looking to try out, use it to tap into easier peaceful times in life — like sitting in kindergarten and doodling with crayons — but avoid having a therapeutic relationship with your coloring book. Here are a few coloring books with therapists backing them up:

  • Outside The Lines: This book contains more abstract characters and would be good for more of the artistic and savvy colorist.
  • Balance: This coloring book has beautiful rotating mandalas.
  • The Enchanted Forest: This one has whimsical scenery in nature, my favorite, if you ask me!

Or if you’re looking to to just try out a sheet or two, unwind from the day, here is a good website for free coloring sheets. I might print some of these out to keep in my office!

Better yet, check out Zentangle, an art therapy technique that helps guide you through mindful and purposeful doodling. This technique has shown to help with relaxation and mindfulness and is better supported by clinical findings. Learn more about Zentangle and check out easy directions here.


Alban, D. “Anti-Stress Coloring Books:  A Pleasant Way To Relax and More.” Retrieved from <>

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