Coloring Books for Stress Relief

Art Therapy and Mandala Magic: These Books Can Bring Inner Peace

Mehandi Mandala design/ Getty Images

 There is a growing number of stress relief-focused coloring books that are geared for adult audiences rather than the preschool set, and I personally think this trend is wonderful!  Even before I knew about the research that links coloring mandalas and patterns with decreases in anxiety and negative mood, I was happy to see this trend because I know about the benefits of mindfulness activities (read this for more on that research), and coloring intricate patterns can definitely be a mindfulness-promoting activity.  I did, however, dig a little further before writing this review, and you can read more about the research on the stress relieving benefits of mandala coloring and other forms of art here.  The bottom line: these stress relief coloring books have research as well as word-of-mouth testimonials to show that they can be great for stress relief.  How does one choose between the options available?  I was pleased to receive some sample books to compare, and I recommend them all.  They are each created with standard-weight pages that are blank on one side, so markers can be used to color one side without bleeding through to another picture; this also makes it easier to frame your finished product, if you choose.  Each book, however, has certain advantages and disadvantages, so helps to match the book to your needs.  Here are some of the most popular stress relief coloring books on the market now.

The Mandala Coloring Book By Jim Gogarty (founder of

Jim Gogarty

The Mandala Coloring Book includes 100 mandala coloring pages on standard-weight pages. The artist is Jim Gogarty, who has been drawing mandalas since 2005, values the symmetry involved, and considers the experience to be a spiritual and meditative one.  Each of the mandalas include intricate patterns and shapes that can be engaging and relaxing to color, though some will draw your eye even more than others, depending on your personality.  These mandalas are less detailed than some others, but still quite intricate.  I would recommend them for those who would like an engaging 10-20 minutes of coloring per mandala, but don’t want to work too hard at the coloring process.  These mandalas can be colored more quickly than some, but can also be colored with great detail if desired.  What you will end up with is a beautiful, unique creation, but the process itself will be an engaging one. 

Pros: Beautiful mandalas, can be completed in a relatively short sitting
Cons: Page numbers at the bottom of the page make these mandalas more approprite for keeping in the book than for framing, though they can be cut out of the book.

Balance: Angie’s Extreme Stress Menders, Volume 1 By Angie Grace

Balance, by Angie Grace, includes 50 mandala coloring pages, but the mandalas themselves are far more intricate than the mandalas in The Mandala Coloring Book.  This can be a pro or a con, depending on what you are looking for.  It would be more difficult to use certain pens with these mandalas—a fine tip is necessary for markers, and crayons would not work well here—but the mandalas themselves might be more frame-worthy in the end, and will keep you busy longer.  (You may find yourself completing them a section at a time among multiple sessions if you don’t have time for longer coloring sessions).  As with all mandala coloring books, some of these madalas will be more appealing to you than others, but they are all beautiful, all involve intricate patterns, and all can bring significant stress relief.

Pros: There are no page numbers on the pages, so the pictures will be easier to frame, if you end up wanting to share your finished product with the world, or simply enjoy it as part of your daily life.
Cons: There are fewer mandalas included, and these mandalas will take longer to complete than some, but that’s not necessarily a “con” for everyone.

Stress Less Coloring: Mosaic Patters By Adams Media

Stress Less Coloring: Mosaic Patterns includes more than 100 pages of color-able patterns.  These pages don’t contain mandalas, but the pattern type is similar: symmetric, patterned designs cover these pages.  The difference is that they are not arranged in circular patterns; they fill the entire page.  The designs are large enough to easily color, but intricate and detailed enough to create an engaging experience.  The finished products are beautiful.

Pros: These designs are beautiful and fun to color, and, once colored, look great.  They are large enough to easily color, but detailed enough to be fun to color.  The paper is also good quality.
Cons: There is less research on the benefits of coloring regular patterned pictures than of coloring mandalas, and mandalas have more history as a calming activity as well, so some people may feel more drawn to mandala coloring books.  This is not necessarily a “con,” however, as others may shy away from mandalas for personal reasons as well.

Stress Less Coloring: Paisley Patterns By Adams Media

Stress Less Coloring: Paisley Patterns also contains over 100 pages of designs, but these designs are more challenging to color in that they are smaller and more detailed—not all pens will work, and crayons and oil pastels won’t be useful for coloring the paisley patterns, though they can be used to color the backgrounds.  Because of this, I would recommend this book to someone who wants more of a challenge and a more focused activity, and one that would yield beautiful results. 

Pros: The designs are beautiful, and the paper is good quality.  There is more background space to color, so the paisley designs could be colored in one sitting and the backgrounds could be colored at another time when you are in less of a mood to focus closely on what you’re coloring.
Cons: Again, because the patterns are smaller and more detailed, they may be more challenging to color, and this may feel less relaxing for some.

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