The Truth About Adult Colouring

Updated on August 8, 2018
Jana Louise Smit profile image

Jana likes to grow stuff, exercise, snack, and explore creative projects as a means to relax and grow.


Carl Jung and the Monks

A common misconception holds that adult colouring is a modern trend. In truth, it's more like a revived practice or one that's spreading to the West. In the past, this activity was considered to be recreation only meant for children, but that was a very Western notion. In the East, for centuries, people have used design and colours to help them relax and meditate. One example is Tibetan Sand Art. This ancient art, which is also known as “sand mandalas,” are drawn by Buddhist monks using different shades of dyed sand to create images in breathtaking detail.

In the 20th century, Carl Jung became one of the first psychologists to give the idea some serious thought. The famous Swiss thinker was the founder of analytic psychology and used mandalas as a part of patients' treatment. Just to be clear, mandalas are flexible designs but generally include something concentric and repetitive. He believed they helped with relaxation and the self-discovery of a person's total self.

Modern Criticism

Despite the fact that colour and drawing (and blending those two elements together) have long histories in sacred rituals and therapy, modern criticism persists. Almost everyone who enjoys this hobby has a story to tell about meeting with disapproval. Enthusiasts are often told the activity is childish or, a waste of time and money. They're even told that there are better ways for grownups to create art or feel better about themselves.

Therapists, in general, are concerned about unrealistic expectations. Most feel that colouring books for adults are not real therapy, though it can be used in conjunction with conventional psychiatric treatments. Another concern voiced by professionals is that people don't take into account the fact that this hobby is not a cure for every ailment and definitely not the only coping strategy for serious trauma. A final gripe most critics have against it is that colouring for adults is a multi-million dollar business. They feel the hype is a sales gimmick that doesn't come clean about the limitations of the hobby.

Designer Peace

An example of a ready-to-colour mandala.
An example of a ready-to-colour mandala. | Source

Meet the Artists

Contrary to what the most paranoid of critics may fear, a grownup in the throes of colour and crayons is not a sign of a lesser intellect. Among the ranks of adult colouring enthusiasts are professionals like architects, business owners and teachers. No less important, there are also students, parents and patients suffering from PTSD or illness. Among those who report a positive experience, the main benefit that keeps showing up is relaxation and a sense of calm.

This Is What Scientists Discovered

Several scientific studies have been done on the subject. After being asked to participate in artistic experiments, groups were either questioned or had their brains tested. Here are some of the most interesting results.

  • Overthinking is a trigger for anxiety and depression. Colouring keeps the mind from floating to the future (anxiety) or dredging up the past (often associated with depression)
  • It can relax the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for fear and stress
  • Individuals who are not particularly artistic can create stunning art and feel a sense of achievement
  • Colouring can be viewed as a kind of meditation, since it also involves similar qualities like mindfulness and tranquility
  • When the hobby replaces electronic bedtime activities, it aids sleep. Bright screens from cellphones and laptops tend to wake up the brain
  • Colouring maintains manual dexterity of the hands, something that fades with age
  • It fosters self-expression
  • Mood improvement

Create Your Own

For some, creating their own outlines also provide a relaxing time and sense of achievement.
For some, creating their own outlines also provide a relaxing time and sense of achievement. | Source

You Can Do It for Free

One thing that makes this “craze” so viral is that it's easy to start with. It's fun to buy a colouring book or cellphone app but anyone can start out free, if they choose. For some, drawing their own images is a new level of creativity and meditation, especially when it's a mandala. However, this is not for everyone. Some people just appreciate the freedom of colouring a beautiful image without needing to create it first.

The Artists and Critics Are Both Right

As long as the colouring-in craze continues, there will be two camps. The artists versus the critics. Undoubtedly, positive things flow from this hobby. This is a stressful world at best and adult colouring provides a cheap, non-addictive coping strategy that cannot be discounted. On the other hand, the critics do have valid claims. Yes, this hobby must be viewed within context and with realistic expectations. Yes, it cannot replace medicine or serious therapy. However, at the end of the day, the critics need to understand that if somebody wants to spend a few dollars (or more) on a colouring book and add blue to some Smurf, then it's that person's choice. There's no shame in this hobby. On the contrary, it's an ancient art that deserves some reviving!

© 2018 Jana Louise Smit


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Jana Louise Smit profile imageAUTHOR

      Jana Louise Smit 

      10 months ago from South Africa

      Hi Kenneth. Thank you for the great comment. I truly appreciate it. :)

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      10 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Jana . . .very professional hub. Helpful and very-needed. I commend you for your writing talent.

      Keep the great hubs coming.

    • Jana Louise Smit profile imageAUTHOR

      Jana Louise Smit 

      24 months ago from South Africa

      :) Insightful comment. I enjoyed reading your views, thanks for adding your thoughts!

    • profile image


      24 months ago

      What a great post! It's about time therapists were challenged! VIVA coloring at any age! So glad you added the positive bullet points. Common sense tells us much of that without research. :) Besides, if pitching a fast-ball glop of paint onto a canvas from 14 feet away can be called art, certainly coloring is real art! Good stuff here. :)

    • Jana Louise Smit profile imageAUTHOR

      Jana Louise Smit 

      24 months ago from South Africa

      So true, Dolores. This is a very relaxing and yet challenging (if you want it to be) hobby. Thanks for reading!

    • Dolores StPierre profile image

      Dolores StPierre 

      2 years ago from Auburn,Maine

      I always colored as a child, my father being an artist showed me how to blend, I have done most Mediums. Relaxes me and I love accomplishing the picture that I thought I couldn’t do. I love a good challenge


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)