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Does Coloring Relieve Work-Related Stress?

Adult Coloring Book

Coloring may seem like a child’s activity, but recent research has revealed that it can have lasting benefits for adults. By bringing the activity into the workplace, you may be able to reduce stress among your employees. In turn, lower stress levels will result in a more efficient staff.

The Relationship Between Stress and Creativity

Doctors often warn us that reducing stress is essential to healthy living. This is true, because, generally speaking, stress affects our mood and emotional balance, as well as influencing how well our immune systems function. An individual’s longevity and ability to be productive are also factors that have been scientifically linked to stress levels.

Over time, unrelieved stress can put a higher burden on our nervous system. This causes muscles to remain tense and strained, causing headaches and musculoskeletal degeneration. Stress also slows down the functioning of the digestive system, which is why highly stressed people experience more frequent instances of nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps, heartburn, diarrhea, and constipation. In some research, stress has also been linked to a higher risk of heart disease, suggesting it may play a part in causing strokes and heart attacks.


However, one of the easiest ways to reduce stress is through coloring. According to Dr. Scott Bea of the Cleveland Clinic, taking time to color reduces stress in three ways. Though it may seem like a juvenile activity, this type of creative expression has very significant effects on the psyche, providing newly unrevealed benefits.


First, the activity takes one’s mind off of stressful concerns and even off of one’s own life. Dr. Bea compares the effect to meditation in that it allows the mind to focus on the activity at hand instead of on the pressures in one’s life. This leads to the second way that coloring helps reduce stress and that is by relaxing the brain. As the mind rests, stress evaporates, and we focus our attention on the creativity of the act. Finally, there’s no pressure. Aside from staying in the lines, we don’t face the risk of failure, when we color. Even if we do make a mistake, there aren’t any consequences. We accept the error and continue. This is a uniquely liberating situation for adults.

Bringing the Opportunity to Color into the Workplace

Introducing this beneficial activity into the workplace can be done in a number of ways. One of the most obvious options is to pick up a stack of coloring books and some boxes of crayons from your bookstore and leave them in the employee break area. Because it’s an enjoyable activity, your employees will take care of the rest. They’ll take the time to color and may even leave their completed pictures for others to see. If you want to keep it light and not introduce entire books to the break area, you can also utilize your office printer and print out individual pages found online. This gives you more flexibility, chances to tailor the drawings to your employees’ preferences, and if you shop around for affordable ink, save you money.

Additionally, you can host a monthly contest. Ask your employees to draw a unique picture and color it, which they can then enter the contest. This will motivate more employees to get involved in the activity, which may lead to some employees discovering hidden talents. You can give away a free lunch or a paid day off to the winner.

You might also donate the walls in the lunchroom or in a particular corridor for employees to show off their work. This can add a splash of color to a drab location, while also filling your employees with pride. By supporting creativity and providing a way for your employees to color, you’ll be helping them reduce stress and feel better about themselves. While they may not realize it, you’ll be helping them to become healthier and more productive members of your organization.



Mind Body Green

Cleveland Clinic  


Workplace Diva

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