Feeling Stressed? A Psychologist Explains How Coloring Can Help You Relax

Print one of our 20+ free coloring pages and see for yourself.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Stress-relief has been the name of the game for me over the last few weeks. When I feel overwhelmed by watching the news, I try to turn to an activity that keeps my mind busy but doesn't require a huge amount of effort. Lately, my favorite way to wind down has been printing out a coloring page and sitting on the couch with a pile of colored pencils. And it turns out, it's not just my imagination: Coloring can actually help you de-stress.

Coloring is one of the easiest stress-relieving activities you can do from home. There are hundreds of inexpensive coloring books available online (my current favorite is this garden flowers coloring book from Target), and even more free pages you can print yourself. But how does the activity actually make you calmer? I talked to Rebecca Skolnick, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist and co-founder of MindWell NYC, to find out more.

"When we focus on one thing in the moment (such as coloring), we are not thinking about the Coronavirus or worrying about our grandparents or thinking about what we are going to eat for dinner," she says. "It is often our thoughts or interpretations or events that lead us to feel stressed. If we can take a break from our thoughts, and throw ourselves into a pleasant or relaxing activity, we are able to feel the emotions of the moment."

Skolnick explained that simply giving your mind a break can be the best thing for us (rather than actively trying to think about other things). "Sometimes the reprieve from these thoughts is relaxing in and of itself," she says. "Coloring can allow us to be fully engaged, which gives us a break from our thoughts or distractions that might be happening around us." If coloring isn't your thing, Skolnick says you can get the same calming effect from other activities like doing a puzzle or playing a game that requires your full attention because these activities help you stay present and out of your worried thoughts.

Rebecca Skolnick, Ph.D.

"Coloring can allow us to be fully engaged, which gives us a break from our thoughts or distractions that might be happening around us."

— Rebecca Skolnick, Ph.D.

She also suggests experimenting with your senses as you do these activities to help you relax even more. "We can soothe with our sense of touch by putting on lotion, wearing something comfortable, or wrapping up in a blanket," she says. "The key is to find different ways to soothe that signal to your brain that it's time to relax and that you are OK in the moment."

You don't need expensive materials or special skills to begin coloring. Getting started is as easy as grabbing your favorite coloring pages (like this city-themed book, $7.99, Target) or printing one of our free designs.

Basic Shapes

Close-up of coloring page

Skolnick says being fully engaged in your activity is one of the most helpful ways to relax your mind; choose a coloring page that requires you to pay attention. Print this page of basic shapes and assign a color to each one; then, keep yourself busy by making sure you've colored all the hearts pink, all the squares blue, and so on.

Get the Free Coloring Page

Easter Coloring Sheets

easter printable coloring book pages

As you prepare to celebrate Easter at home, take advantage of our free coloring pages and activity sheets. Relax by coloring in the patterned egg sheet, or keep your mind engaged by printing out the activity page. These free printables are fun for kids and adults alike.

Get the Free Coloring Page

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles