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Adult coloring books, used to relieve stress, grow in popularity

By Wade Rupard

Forum News Service

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — More and more adults are getting out their markers and coloring books, not for their kids, but for themselves.

Adults are turning to adult coloring books as a way to relieve stress and relax by coloring inside the lines.

The genre became immensely popular in 2015, and according to Publishers Weekly, the top 10 bestselling titles sold more than 1.5 million copies last year. The books usually are more involved than a typical child's book full of playful animals, usually incorporating patterns or more detailed animals.

Their growing popularity is for good reason, said Emily Stoks, a family-based and outpatient counselor at The Village in Grand Forks. Adult coloring books allow people to relax and take their mind off things. Even Stoks said she uses them every once in awhile.

"It's fun to do and different," she said. "It's not something I probably would have picked up or thought about. But I think now that people are talking about them, and you can see them at the store, I think they're more available to people now."

Stoks said she's seen their popularity grow, especially over the past six months. In her line of work, she often suggests adults who have higher levels of anxiety or stress use the coloring books. The books allow stressed-out adults to find tranquility, similar to how adults have been using crafts to unwind for years.

The books, Stoks said, are similar to the art therapy she and other therapists have used in the past. Through coloring, people can express their feelings and emotions.

"It can be a distractor and a way to keep them relaxed," she said.

Another benefit from coloring is the break from screens, such as phones, tablets and TV, Stoks said.

"I think these days, we spend a lot of time in front of our phones and computer, and this is something you can sit down and do and not think about a whole lot of other things," she said.

No matter if they're being used to unwind, relax, relive a childhood memory or to just have fun, there are many different benefits, Stoks said.

The popularity of the books has led the Grand Forks Public Library to host monthly "Outside the Lines" events, where people meet to color together from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on the second Monday of each month.

The books can be purchased as several large retailers, such as Michael's and Target, as well as online.