8 Adult Coloring Books to Reduce Social Anxiety

The use of adult coloring books has become popular as a form of relaxation, meditation, and stress relief. Individuals with anxiety may find it helpful to use these coloring books to promote mindfulness in their daily lives. Initial research on this topic indicates that coloring patterns such as mandalas may lead to at least short-term reduction in anxiety.

Below are eight coloring books that may be helpful for those with social anxiety disorder (SAD), along with tips on how to decide which book might be best suited to you as an individual.

1
The Mindfulness Colouring Book: Anti-Stress Art Therapy for Busy People (2015)

Coloring books can be used to help develop mindfulness.
The Mindfulness Colouring Book. Courtesy of Amazon

​The "Mindfulness Colouring Book," authored by Emma Farrarons and published by Boxtree Ltd. is a small 5 x 7 inch book with 100 pages of patterns that include flowers, geometric shapes, animals, butterflies, etc. Pages are printed on both front and back on heavy weight paper.

Best use for social anxiety disorder: Keep this book in your purse or briefcase for those occasions when you find yourself overcome by anxiety, such as when riding public transportation or after you've finished eating lunch at work or school.

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2
Creative Therapy: An Anti-Stress Coloring Book (2015)

Coloring books can help to reduce stress.
Creative Therapy: An Anti-Stress Coloring Book. Courtesy of Amazon

Part of a best-selling coloring book series, "Creative Therapy: An Anti-Stress Coloring Book," authored by Hannah Davies, Richard Merritt, and Jo Taylor and published by Running Press is a 128-page hardcover coloring book with images printed on both sides of the page.

Best use for social anxiety disorder: This book contains intricate designs and would be best used for occasions when you feel the need to calm yourself after a stressful event. Coloring the fine details of the patterns can be a form of meditation to help you relax.

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3
Color Therapy: An Anti-Stress Coloring Book (2015)

Doodling can be like a form of meditation.
Color Therapy: An Anti-Stress Coloring Book. Courtesy of Amazon

Also published by Running Press, "Color Therapy: An Anti-Stress Coloring Book" authored by Cindy Wilde, Laura-Kate Chapman, and Richard Merritt contains 128 pages divided into sections based on the rainbow, giving you color suggestions for your work. This book also gives you the chance to add your own doodles as not every drawing is detailed.

Best use for social anxiety disorder: This book will be bets suited for times when you are feeling the need for a creative outlet to set aside your social anxiety for a few minutes or a few hours.

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4
Creative Coloring Inspirations: Art Activity Pages to Relax and Enjoy! (2014)

A coloring book to help relax and overcome stress.
Creative Coloring Inspirations: Art Activity Pages to Relax and Enjoy!. Courtesy of Amazon

Published by Design Originals and authored by Valentina Harper, "Creative Coloring Inspirations: Art Activity Pages to Relax and Enjoy!" is a 72-page coloring book promoting hope and encouragement. The book contains 30 activities that combine uplifting quotes and messages with patterns.

All pages in this book are printed only on one side and pre-perforated so you can remove and display. Images are less detailed than some other coloring books, allowing you to complete one activity in a sitting. Pages are also paint-friendly, allowing you to use a variety of mediums to color the images.

Best use for social anxiety disorder: Choose this book if you are motivated by uplifting quotes or if you want to display your artwork (or use it for note cards to send to new friends).

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5
Color Me Happy: 100 Coloring Templates That Will Make You Smile (2014)

A coloring book to help lift your mood.
Color Me Happy: 100 Coloring Templates That Will Make You Smile. Courtesy of Amazon

"Color Me Happy: 100 Coloring Templates That Will Make You Smile," authored by art therapist Lacy Mucklow and artist Angela Porter and published by Race Point Publishing, is a large 208-page with over 100 coloring templates. The book is organized into themed chapters with images printed on only one side of the page. The designs in this book are not as intricate as some others allowing for faster completion.

Best use for social anxiety disorder: The images in this book are fun and not too structured, so it is best for those who prefer a light-hearted approach to de-stressing while socially anxious.

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6
The Calm Coloring Book

Coloring books can be used to help calm yourself.
The Calm Coloring Book: Beautiful Images to Soothe Your Cares Away. Courtesy of Amazon

Authored by Patience Coster and published by Chartwell Books, "The Calm Coloring Book" is a 128-page book filled with images of birds, leaves, fish, flowers, butterflies and landscapes. Images in the book range from realistic to whimsical.

Best use for social anxiety disorder: Nature lovers with social anxiety may enjoy this book most.

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7
Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns

Stress relief is the goal of many coloring enthusiasts.
Stress Relieving Patterns. Courtesy of Amazon

"Stress Relieving Patterns," authored by Cherina Kohey and published by CreateSpace contains 32 detailed patterns over 66 pages ranging in complexity from beginner level to expert.

Best use for social anxiety disorder: Buy this book as a gift for someone you know who has social anxiety to help that person reduce daily life stress.

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8
Adult Coloring Book: Deep Relaxation: Templates for Meditation and Calming

Deep relaxation is one of the goals of adult coloring.
Deep Relaxation. Courtesy of Amazon

"Deep Relaxation," also published by CreateSpace and authored by Cherina Kohey, offers 62 pages of images to color including some that are child-friendly.

Best use for social anxiety disorder: Buy this book for a child or teenager suffering with social anxiety disorder to encourage mindfulness and relaxation.

Closing Thoughts

Adult coloring books are not the only form of art-making that may help with anxiety. Free-form painting and clay modeling have also been shown to lead to short-term anxiety reduction. If coloring books are not your thing, try painting, pottery, or other artistic pursuits that encourage stress relief. 

If social anxiety is significantly interfering with your daily functioning and you have not received a diagnosis or treatment, it is important to speak to your doctor. While self-help methods such as coloring books, meditation, and exercise can help to reduce anxiety, treatments with a strong evidence base such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or medication are most likely to make a significant difference in your symptoms.

Sources:

Sandmire DA, Rankin NE, Gorham SR, et al. Psychological and autonomic effects of art making in college-aged students. Anxiety Stress Coping. 2016;29(5):561-569. doi:10.1080/10615806.2015.1076798.

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