Think back to your childhood. Can you picture yourself sitting at a table, happily coloring for hours on end?
Although you may think you left that pleasant activity in childhood, more and more adults are turning to coloring books as a form of relaxation. And it turns out this activity can even translate to improved sleep.
Haley Neidich, Tampa Bay-based licensed clinical social worker, believes heightened levels of stress for many in recent times have led to a return to coloring.
“With all of the noise of being plugged in to our phones, social media, and the urge to feel that we are constantly available to others, coloring books allow for a return to the present moment,” she says. “Activities like coloring can feel like a mini-retreat from the multitasking and noise of our day-to-day life and can serve to help folks recharge when they need a break during the day or in the evening when it’s time to wind down.”
Read on to discover more about this stress-relieving trend and find our picks for the most relaxing coloring books for adults.
How coloring helps you sleep
Studies show coloring can help lower stress and anxiety, both of which can interfere with sleep.
“Adult coloring books relieve stress by supporting the individual in accessing a mindful state,” explains Neidich. “Mindfulness calms the nervous system through a sense of presence in each moment and allows folks to access their inner creative child.”
All that stress relief, mindfulness, and returning to heartwarming childhood memories could even make for higher-quality sleep.
Coloring is just one example of any relaxing activity that doesn’t involve a screen—something that’s key when strengthening “your ability to access the rest and relaxation state that is so essential to entering a peaceful sleep,” says Neidich.
She goes on to say that when you add deep breathing to the mix, “coloring can also offer a time to reflect on one’s day and tap into any stress” you’re feeling in your body.
So, does this mean you should add coloring to your nighttime routine?
“People should absolutely try out coloring before bed to see if it’s something that might help them fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly,” Neidich says. “Both using coloring books and free coloring are great ways to allow your mind to slow down and focus on something neutral and positive before bed.”
Relaxing coloring books for adults
Coloring is something Neidich recommends to her clients—and she’s noticed there are some coloring books they particularly love. These coloring books include:
Positive Affirmations Adult Coloring Book ($14.99, etsy.com): Geared toward girls and women of color, this beautiful coloring book created by an Etsy seller and illustrator includes a wealth of fun, empowering positive affirmations, from “you deserve nice things” to “stand tall.”
The Mindfulness Coloring Book: Anti-Stress Art Therapy for Busy People ($10, amazon.com): Strapped for time, but still want to squeeze in coloring each day? This adult coloring book is pocket-sized, so you can take it on the go. That means you can get your coloring on while you ride the subway, sit on the bus, or wait in line.
The Art of Mandala ($4.99, amazon.com): Depicted throughout the centuries, mandalas are geometric designs that are not only beautiful to look at but are also soothing to color. This coloring book has 50 mandalas with intricate patterns, resulting in several relaxing hours of tranquil coloring.
The bottom line: “Coloring can be nostalgic for folks and bring them back to positive, quiet moments in their childhood,” says Neidich. “For folks with positive associations, this can bring about a sense of safety and peace and remind them of a simpler time in which they didn’t have the responsibilities of adulthood.”
For more ways to unwind before bed, we put together this list of nighttime activities to help you relax.