Coloring Books: The Popular Retreat for Busy Adults

In today’s digital world where you feel constantly “plugged in” — dealing with the daily pressures of social media, email and endless apps — there is a way to step away from the stress and find your center. And it’s a simple solution — as simple as putting a pencil to the pages of a coloring book.

Adult coloring books have exploded in popularity over the past two years. According to Nielsen BookScan, the number of adult coloring books sold has blown up: An estimated 12 million copies sold in 2015, compared to only 1 million in 2014. If the trend continues, that could mean less stress for coloring enthusiasts.

According to the American Art Therapy Association, while not an actual substitute for art therapy, “coloring books provide a controlled, contained use of art for self-soothing purposes ... for instance, mandalas are often used to promote centering and stress reduction. This benefit can be enhanced when using mandala coloring books.”

Marygrace Berberian, a certified art therapist and the Clinical Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for the Graduate Art Therapy Program at New York University told CNN: "Coloring definitely has therapeutic potential to reduce anxiety, create focus or bring [about] more mindfulness."

Though it is not all mindful mandalas. A plethora of products with adult sensibilities are making a major impact on the coloring book scene. From current television shows like Game of Thrones or homages to ’80s and ’90s pop culture, there is a coloring book for every interest.

As with most popular trends, a digital version of coloring is attempting to compete with the printed versions but not everyone is buying it. Debra Matsumoto, a spokeswoman for Laurence King Publishing, told the San Jose Mercury News that when it comes to coloring, there will always be an audience that “purposely seeks a very nondigital experience.”

Why? Digital just isn’t the same. The beauty of coloring books is that they are extremely accessible and inherently easy use. The only thing needed is a coloring book and some pencils. There are no special apps or Wi-Fi required. Coloring is something you can do alone or with friends and, best of all, it’s open to all skill levels. Tia Kratter, a shading art director at Pixar Animation told the Wall Street Journal, “(T)he more you do it, at no matter what level, the better you’re going to get.” And there is no shortage of techniques.

So breakout your favorite colored pencils and a coloring book and have some fun. The only thing you have to lose is stress.