There are many products on the market that promote stress relief and relaxation. One of the more recent products to rise in popularity appears to be adult coloring books. These books often feature a mixture of simple and complex designs and pictures for people to color.
According to Sally Bailey, professor in the School of Music, Theater and Dance and director of the drama therapy program, adult coloring books can provide relaxation as long as the person using them is not a perfectionist.
“I think most people use it as a relaxation tool to allow themselves to get a break from whatever it is they’ve been stressing about,” Bailey said. “The whole process of art gets you out of your left mind. It focuses on the activities that the right side of the brain does, which is involved in color and creative patternmaking decisions.”
Macy Adams, senior in agribusiness, said adult coloring books provide stress relief for her and give her something to do during her free time.
“It makes you focus on attention to detail and takes your mind off other things,” Adams said. “I color whenever I have time. Sometimes three to four times a week.”
Bailey, who is also a registered drama therapist, said coloring books are useful, but they are not technically considered art therapy.
She said the American Art Therapy Association has recently started negotiating with publishers who use the words “art therapy” on their coloring books about including a disclaimer saying it is not really considered art therapy by professionals.
“Technically and literally, (coloring books) are not art therapy,” Bailey said. “Art therapy is making art and then discussing it with an art therapist.”
Although adult coloring books are not art therapy, some people still seem to enjoy them and feel a sense of relaxation when coloring.
Jourdan LeBeau, sophomore in digital media, said there is something about adult coloring books that is soothing for him.
“I get stressed when I feel like I have a million things going on at once or when I don’t have control of certain situations,” LeBeau said. “Coloring gives me a sense of control. Maybe that’s why I like it so much.”