National Coloring Day: how coloring can relieve stress


Illustration by Lakan Beister

A coloring page featuring the Iowa State logo

Willa Colville

Coloring is not just for kids. The childhood pastime can be a useful tool for adults dealing with stress and anxiety.

Coloring allows one to switch off their thoughts and focus on the moment. This has been proven to help deal with stress and even bring comfort to cancer patients.

Adult cancer patients who participated in just one hour of art therapy each day expressed “overwhelming comfort” and wished to continue that form of therapy, according a study at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.Art therapy is also helpful among those dealing with conditions such as anxiety, depression, dementia and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, people who are just dealing with stress can benefit from coloring as well.

Jeffrey Nelson, clinical therapist for Student Counseling Services, believes coloring is a great coping mechanism for students dealing with stress or anxiety.

“It’s kind of this mindful activity,” Nelson said. “You’re in the moment and engaged in an activity that’s enjoyable.”

Nelson said coloring is just one of many ways to relieve stress. Other stress relievers he suggested are meditating or taking long walks while focusing on the sounds and sights. Nelson said people with stress should “practice being more mindful,” and coloring is a great way to do it.

“Here at the Student Counseling Center we provide services for students with anxiety or stress including individual therapy, group therapy and other workshops,” Nelson said. “These workshops help students work on managing emotions and anxiety.”

Student Counseling Services, which is located on the third floor of the Student Services Building, is free of charge to students, and students can go in during their walk-in hours Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for a consultation.

For more information, visit their website,