Coloring Books Have A Surprising Health Benefit

by Alanna Greco

It turns out that adult coloring books can be used as something other than an ironic gift from Urban Outfitters. In Europe, more people are using coloring books to reduce stress — so excuse us while we go find where we put our crayons. No, seriously.

Contrary to what some may think, coloring is not just for kids. In fact, taking a crayon or colored pencil to paper is a therapy method that dates back to the early 20th century — though it seems people are just starting to rediscover its benefits. So how exactly does something as simple and seemingly childlike as filling in the lines lend itself to combating adult amounts of stress? Psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala tells the Huffington Post that coloring triggers and stimulates the brain areas associated with motor skills, creativity, and the senses. Coloring helps to calm the part of our brains called the amygdala, which controls our emotions and stress. Simply put? Coloring takes our minds off our problems, and as a result leaves us feeling much more relaxed, rested, and at ease. Furthermore, experts say that concentrating on a coloring book lets us mentally escape by bringing back memories of childhood, a less stressful time for many of us.

As the Huffington Post points out, coloring books for adults are best sellers in France and the U.K. Hachette, a French publisher, has even capitalized on the trend by selling a 20-volume collection of stress-reducing coloring books called Art-Thérapie. Using coloring books to de-stress has been especially popular amongst French women, who have even taken to posting their creations on social media and forming Facebook groups to share coloring tips.

This art therapy trend has yet to hit America, but because publishers have found it immensely profitable, it's probably only a matter of time before you find yourself shopping for a new box of crayons. And hey, why not? Coloring is a fun and joyful activity that is a much easier way to reduce stress than, say, dragging yourself to the gym. It just might get awkward if your friends find your completely finished Benedict Cumberbatch coloring book...

I was being serious. Looking to de-stress?

Here are five other (totally weird) adult coloring books that ought to do the trick.

Image: LiliVanili/Flickr; Giphy