The Science Behind Adult Coloring Books Explains Why They're So Therapeutic

The Science Behind Adult Coloring Books Explains Why They're So Therapeutic
Source: AP
Source: AP

Coloring books for adults have grown exponentially popular — to such an extent that they're keeping the publishing industry afloat. Besides the fun of feeling like a 5-year-old again, the coloring books are said to promote mindfulness and reduce stress. It's no wonder everyone loves them. 

Adult coloring books have exploded in popularity.
Source: 
Getty Images

Why is taking a crayon to paper such a meditative experience? Researchers at Drexel University may have an explanation — and it has to do with your hormone levels. 

In a recent study published in the journal Art Therapy, they found "making art can significantly reduce stress-related hormones in your body," according to a press release. What's more, you don't have to be an experienced artist to feel those stress-relieving effects: Whether you draw stick figures or paint elaborate landscapes, everyone benefits equally.

The study: The researchers had 39 adults take part in 45 minutes of art-making with markers, paper, modeling clay and collage materials, according to the release. 

Before and after the art-making, researchers measured participants' levels of cortisol — otherwise known as the stress hormone. 

A piece of art created by one of the study participants
Source: 
Courtesy of Girija Kaimal

The results were impressive: 75% of the participants had lower cortisol levels after 45 minutes of art-making. 

In a written testimony, one participant described the exercise as "very relaxing." 

"After about five minutes, I felt less anxious," the participant wrote, according to the release. "I was able to obsess less about things that I had not done or need[ed] to get done. Doing art allowed me to put things into perspective."

Time to go buy some crayons and colored pencils.

Read more:
• This Is the Music You Should Listen to Before an Interview, According to Science
• Science Can Now Sort of Explain Why Teenage Boys Are So Damn Awkward

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Jordyn Taylor

Jordyn is an editor on Mic's news desk. She previously worked at the New York Observer, and is a graduate of Hamilton College and New York University. Jordyn is based in New York, and can be reached at jht@mic.com.

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