Did you know completing repetitive motions in a craft, like pottery-making, sewing, carpentry, and more, can help alleviate stress? Coloring is one of the most accessible of all these crafts where the body can use repetitive motion to help re-focus and alleviate tension. In an article on NPR, Malaka Ghalib talks to various art therapists who use basic art techniques like coloring, clay sculpture, and drawing to help patients dealing with anxiety & stress (Ghalib 2020). Most of us can’t visit an art therapist when we’re stressed out or blue, but we can follow their examples of using art to improve our moods & stress levels. Think of it as yoga for your brain.
Ghalib summarizes, “A number of studies have shown that coloring inside a shape — specifically a pre-drawn geometric mandala design — is more effective in boosting mood than coloring on a blank paper or even coloring inside a square shape” (2020). Christina Muthard & Rebecca Gilbertson published a study in the Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research that showed stress reduction when people paired breathing techniques with coloring a mandala (2016). After all, two ways to reduce stress are better than one, right?
Need some new coloring pages?
Download & print any of these free resources.
- Louise Lawler’s Tracings for You from the Museum of Modern Art
- The New York Public Library Coloring Book hosted by New York Academy of Medicine
- Liz Climo Coloring Book on Tumblr, illustrations by Liz Climo
- Audrey Kawasaki Coloring Book, all illustrations by Audrey Kawasaki
- #ColorOurCollection images from the Newberry Library, Chicago
- Library of Virginia Coloring Book hosted by New York Academy of Medicine
- Western University Archives Coloring Book hosted by New York Academy of Medicine
- Crayola Free Coloring Pages by Crayola, Inc.
Ghalib, Malaka. “Feeling Artsy? Here’s How Making Art Helps Your Brain.” NPR, 11 January 2020. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/01/11/795010044/feeling-artsy-heres-how-making-art-helps-your-brain.
Muthard, Christina & Rebecca Gilbertson. “Stress Management in Young Adults: Implications of Mandala Coloring on Self-Reported Negative Affect and Psychophysiological Response.” Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research, vol. 21, no. 1, Spring 2016, pp. 16–28. EBSCOhost, doi:10.24839/2164-8204.JN21.1.16.