10 of the most relaxing coloring books to help you de-stress

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Photo by Jonathan Borba

They may be one of the most popular mindful and relaxing self-care exercises from the last few years, but can coloring books actually help to reduce stress and anxiety? Yes, it turns out.

According to clinical psychologist Scott M. Bea, PsyD, adult coloring helps attention to flow away from ourselves and into the present moment, to relax the brain, and to offer a low-stakes escape that you can’t really get right or wrong.

Some experts have argued that it’s not “proper” art therapy, but I think that’s not really the point. Just like listening to soothing music or reading a relaxing book, if unwinding with a coloring books helps you to relax in your home for very little money, then it’s absolutely worth doing.

If adult coloring can even help to ease some symptoms of anxiety or depression, as some researchers from New Zealand have suggested, then all the better.

To help you to escape from the stresses of the world and relive the days of focusing only on staying in the lines, here are some of the most calming coloring books to relax and unwind with as an adult in 2022.

The best coloring books for adults to relax and unwind with

1. Geomorphia: An Extreme Coloring and Search Challenge by Kerby Rosanes

Philippines-based artist and “epic doodler” Kerby Rosanes’ coloring books for adults are some of the most intricately stunning you can find.

Start with Geomorphia, “an extreme coloring and search challenge”, in which you’ll meet animals that morph from waterfalls and whirlwinds, firey foxes that erupt from volcanoes, and fairy-tale castles that grow out of crystal foundations. – all for you to bring to life in color.

Kerby’s coloring books definitely aren’t the simplest on this list, but they absolutely have the most wow-factor. If you’re happy to have an extra challenge during your time to unwind, seek out the search items at the back of the book in the pages you’ve colored.

2. Millie Marotta’s Wildlife Wonders by Millie Marotta

Millie Marotta is the illustrator of a huge list of bestselling anxiety-reducing coloring books for adults, crafting templates for gorgeous illustrations inspired by the natural world.

Wildlife Wonders is the perfect coloring book to start with. From a mighty African elephant to a tiny field mouse, these coloring adventures are wonderfully delicate but simple enough to unwind with as you create your own interpretation.

After studying Wildlife Illustration, Millie now works on her projects from a studio by the sea in West Wales, close to where she grew up surrounded by nature on a small holding in the Welsh hills.

3. The Time Garden: A Magical Journey and Coloring Book by Daria Song

So much love and attention have been poured into this relaxing coloring book. The Time Garden is Daria Song’s meditative and creatively inspiring journey through a fantastical cuckoo-clock-inspired realm, beginning with a dreamy story and all ready for you to bring to life with the colors you choose.

Daria Song is a textile artist and coloring book artist from Seoul, South Korea, and is the author of two more coloring books in the whimsical Time series.

Daria’s also the author of a gorgeously imagined activity book, The Mysterious Mansion, which is perfect for mindfulness exercises and stress relief.

4. The Mindfulness Coloring Book: Anti-Stress Art Therapy for Busy People by Emma Farrarons

The Mindfulness Coloring Book is a pocketsize coloring book with 100 pages of natural and relaxing patterns, designed to channel stress and anxiety into relaxing, creative accomplishments.

This bestselling coloring book for adults is one of the most popular from the last decade – and the first one I ever received, as a gift one Christmas. Promising anti-stress art therapy for busy people, it’s the perfect little addition to your self-care time.

5. Express Yourself – Mindfulness Coloring Book by RYVE

This gorgeous book is part-coloring book, part-personal growth guidebook, printed on thick 120gsm paper and with tear-out pages so you can frame the illustrations you love.

To set it apart from other bestselling coloring books, it’s packed with 29+ purposefully designed images to inspire you to live well, alongside 12+ self-reflection exercises to encourage personal growth.

6. Patterns of the Universe: A Coloring Adventure in Math and Beauty by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

Patterns of the Universe is a unique and ingenious coloring book, revealing math’s hidden beauty in an incredibly accessible and calming way.

From the delicate silhouette of a snowflake to the spiral seeds of a sunflower and the symmetry of the Sri Yantra mandala, this coloring book is a reminder that math is at the heart of so much of the universe’s beauty and wonder.

7. Enchanted Forest Artist’s Edition: 20 Drawings to Color and Frame by Johanna Basford

If there is a Queen of Coloring, it would be Johanna Basford. Johanna’s bestselling coloring books have sold millions of copies, including the #1 New York Times Bestseller Enchanted Forest.

Based on the original book, this Artist’s Edition has a twist, consisting of 20 stunning drawings to color, easily remove, and frame for your walls or to share as gifts.

This includes the most popular artworks from Enchanted Forest, featuring a magic castle, unicorns, owls, and more.

8. Prettycitylondon: The Colouring Book by Siobhan Ferguson

Color the calm back into your day with this gorgeous coloring book by Prettycitylondon, featuring the most beautiful, quaint, and peaceful hidden gems of London.

The intricate and calming illustrations by artist Lucy Hester are based on photographs by Siobhan Ferguson, curator of the popular @prettycitylondon Instagram account.

Travel to London with your coloring pens and bring to life the tree-lined streets, enticing eateries, and vine-adorned houses of the British capital’s quiet corners.

9. Harry Potter Coloring Book by Scholastic

If Hogwarts is one of your comfort places, retreat into this Harry Potter coloring book for some time for self-care.

This official book is filled with intricate illustrations and elaborate designs used in the making of the Harry Potter films, offering you the chance to bring it back to life with vibrant color.

10. Inspirational Animals Coloring Book by Catty Press

The Inspirational Animals Coloring Book is perfect for animal lovers to relax, unwind, and enjoy some laid-back, zero-pressure creativity.

Featuring stress-relieving animal designs and uplifting motivational quotes, each simple illustration in this comforting coloring book is printed on a single-sided sheet to prevent bleed-through and keep your coloring perfect.

For more ways to reduce stress and find greater calm in your day, you might like these relaxing books, my collection of the most beautifully-written books of all time, and this list of gorgeous children’s books to escape into.

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