How Adult Coloring Books Can Help With Recovery

Remember your younger days, when finding a cache of half-spent crayons with names like “Midnight Blue” and “Carnation Pink” was as easy as climbing under the kitchen table or onto the front seat of your mom’s car? Then, with a little bit of concentration and the right coloring book, you were off to a new world — relaxed yet focused without even trying. Now adults in recovery are discovering that coloring books made just for grownups offer a viable — and fun — alternative to meditation.

The Therapy of Art

The American Art Therapy Association says, “making and creating artwork is used to explore feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem.” All of these concepts are beneficial to any adult, and they can be particularly valuable to those who are in recovery.

Although simply working on a coloring book cannot replace the interpersonal relationship between you and your art therapist, “coloring definitely has therapeutic potential to reduce anxiety, create focus or bring [about] more mindfulness,” certified art therapist Marygrace Berberian tells CNN.

The Benefits of Coloring

Today’s coloring books for adults typically feature soothing mandalas or other intricate designs that require attention to detail. They’re also completely beautiful. Coloring in a coloring book can provide:

  • Anxiety relief. Coloring lets you turn off your thoughts. When you’re immersed in a coloring book, you can focus completely on what you’re doing and practice mindfulness.
  • A less intimidating introduction to art therapy. Individuals who feel they lack art skills may feel less intimidated and more inclined to try art therapy with coloring. After all, everyone has colored at least once — and all you have to do is stay in the lines.
  • An easy to find, inexpensive opportunity for release. Adult coloring books and materials are available in bookstores and online. Colored pencils are the ideal medium to start with because they provide greater precision and make for a more satisfying result. They’re also easier to hold than crayons, and they are easier to sharpen, too.

Tips for Choosing a Coloring Book

There is a huge range of coloring book themes to choose from. You can find coloring books with elaborate gardens, mandalas, animals, folkloric images, contemporary images and more. There are even some with blank pages that give you space to draw your own design. If you’re having trouble finding a theme that appeals to you, keep looking. There are dozens of options — at least.

Just remember, practice makes perfect. Even if you think you don’t have the patience for coloring, just try it. One of the benefits of coloring is how simple it is to relax and focus, so you might just be surprised at how easy you can tune out the rest of the world and simply concentrate on adding color to a beautiful design.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, contact 12 Keys today. We’ll help you put the pieces of your life back together.

The Addiction Blog