Coloring Books Help Adults Relax Too

Coloring is not just for kindergarteners anymore. The practice has many benefits for adults. Here's what's behind the boom in adult color. Continue reading →

Adult coloring has become a thing - and with good reason. Not only is the practice beneficial for people with specific conditions, like PTSD and those suffering the psychological side effects of cancer diagnosis and treatment, it's a good stress reliever for the general population.

It's also just plain fun.

So what makes coloring such an effective form of art therapy?

PHOTOS: An Illustrated History of the Mental Asylum

"The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills (coordination necessary to make small, precise movements)," psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala told the Huffington Post. "The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress."

Put another way: When we focus on coloring, it blocks our brains from focusing on our troubles.

"Because it's a centering activity, the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that is involved with our fear response, actually gets a bit, a little bit of a rest," psychologist Dr. Ben Michaelis told Fox News. "It ultimately has a really calming effect over time."

BLOG: Coloring Books Go 3D with Augmented Reality

Another appealing aspect of adult coloring? The low barrier to entry. All you need is a coloring book and some crayons or colored pencils - and the "But-I-don't-know-how!" intimidation factor is non-existent.

Heidi Johnson, who participates in a monthly coloring club in Minnesota, told Fox: "You don't have to be an expert at the DIY project, or a painter or an artist. You can just pick something you like that speaks to you and color it however you want it."

Yet coloring has a similar psychological effect as those arts and crafts that require more skill building. The repetition and predictable outcome - much like when a person knits or embroiders - is soothing, almost like meditation, neuropsychologist Stan Rodski told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Chameleon's Color-Changing Taps Crystals: Photos

The results were even measurable, with scans showing that coloring will slow heart rate and change brainwaves.

The only tough part is choosing the right coloring book. In the wake of all this pro-coloring news, the adult coloring book market is booming.

You say red, I say blue. You say green, I say yellow. Now we can get along. Researchers around the world are using materials science to give fabrics, flowers, light fixtures, even eyeballs color-changing capabilities. Here we look at 10. Above: Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley developed an

ultra-thin silicon material

that can change color when flexed or when a small amount of force is applied to the surface. The new technology provides flexibility and precision in generating specific colors, paving the way for new advancements in display technology, camouflage materials or even to someday infuse color into buildings or bridges.


Volvorii Timeless smart shoe

can change colors and patterns --; polka dots, stripes or other designs -- through an app that is controlled by a smartphone. The shoes, which were supported by an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, will start at $249 and are expected to be available in December of 2015.


Stroma Medical

is using melanin-targeting laser technology to break down the pigment on the outer layers of brown irises to give customers permanently blue eyes. The company says the process takes only about 20 seconds and the color change is visible within four weeks. The procedure isn’t yet FDA-approved and experts have expressed safety concerns about the long-term effects that would first need to be addressed.

Revolution Bioengineering

(RevBio), based in Colorado, has genetically modified flowers to change color continuously throughout the day when activated by a dilute ethanol, such as beer. Some flowers can change from, say, pink to blue and back again. Others change from white to red on demand. According to RevBio, if you know which enzyme is not working in a flower, the process can be fixed and the flower can gain color again by watering the plant with a dilute ethanol.

SOLS, a startup for customized orthotic insoles, is developing a new 3D-printed sneaker line called ADAPTIV that incorporates biomechanics, fashion and robotics. The shoe uses a system of gyroscopes and pressure sensors to alert the shoe’s adaptive materials to adjust air pressure and fluids to support body motions. It also allows for constant monitoring of health stats and incorporates color-sensing cameras with RGB-adjustable LED lights to change color to match different outfits.

Karma Chameleon

, a project being developed by researchers at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, is investigating ways to use electronic fabric that can change its own visual properties by harnessing power directly from the body. When woven into fabrics, the garments will change color in response to physical movement. Researchers, however, believe it will be about 20 to 30 years before these fabrics reach stores.

LED lighting company

Solid Apollo LED

recently unveiled color-changing lighting fixtures. Perfect for entertainment rooms and bars, the three-knob color control and wireless remote control can play one of 29 color-changing programs and provides more than 16,000 colors on any RGB LED strip light or lighting fixture.


unveiled a new handbag that can change colors by pressing a button on an app. The bag can be programmed to flash a custom lightshow synchronized to a song or flash a selected color when the user receives a phone call. In addition, the bags are capable of charging a smartphone, tablet or another personal electronic device. The handbags retail between $499 and $699 and are now available for pre-order on the company’s website.


E Ink Prism

, large, rectangular tiles can change color on demand. Power is required -- in very small amounts -- when the colors actually change. With this new material, architects could create more versatile and cost-effective designs and eliminate the need to paint buildings or rooms.

This ice cream, called Xameleon, changes from purple to pink when licked. Spanish physicist-turned-cook Manuel Linares won’t divulge his recipe, but says the ice cream is made from natural ingredients.