These Are the Best Coloring Books for Adults Who Need to Decompress

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This article is updated twice yearly with our favorite picks.

Since 2005, there have been various studies published in the Journal of American Art Therapy Association that reveal guided coloring can be a way to reduce anxiety and stress. "Findings suggest that structured coloring of a reasonably complex geometric pattern may induce a meditative state that benefits individuals suffering from anxiety," one of the studies says. Psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala told HuffPost that coloring activates the logic and creative centers of our brains, while the motor skills it requires lowers the activity in our amygdala (which controls emotions like stress and anxiety).

So, if doing yoga, taking a bath, going for a run, or practicing another form of self-care isn't helping you decompress during a stressful period, pick up some colored pencils and an adult coloring book. You might be surprised by just how soothing the practice is.

Want to get your hands on a cool one? We've rounded up the best coloring books for adults—from humorous ones to fashion- and design-centric options below.

Here are our picks for the best adult coloring books.

Fantastic Cities by Steve McDonald

Fantastic Cities
 Courtesy of Amazon

Celebrate the fantastic cities around the world with this coloring book by artist and world traveler Steve McDonald. Depicted from an aerial view, the illustrations are intricate and are sure to put you in a meditative state.

This Annoying Life by Oslo Davis

This Annoying Life
 Courtesy of Amazon

Commiserate with this sassy coloring book that illustrates tedious mishaps and pet peeves as amusing drawings. It's delightfully sardonic, playful, and best of all doesn't force the whole "mindfulness" thing on you.

The Time Garden by Daria Song

The Time Garden
 Courtesy of Amazon

This coloring book features more than just pretty designs. The pages are bolstered by a whimsical narrative that invites you to journey through the doors of a mysterious clock and its inner workings. Discover a magical land of clock gears, rooftops, starry skies, and giant owls in this book.

Ultimate Travel by Lonely Planet

Ultimate Travel
Courtesy of Barnes & Noble  

Whether you fancy yourself a world traveler and are planning your next trip or you simply have a case of wanderlust, Lonely Planet's coloring book has all the inspiration you need. It's a compilation of 500 major destinations around the world—from hidden gems to popular attractions.

Color Me to Sleep by Lacy Mucklow and Angela Porter

Color Me To Sleep
 Courtesy of Barnes & Noble 

If you've been having a hard time falling asleep lately, consider switching up your routine by adding in this bedtime coloring book for adults. This calming activity might just help your mind relax and unwind when your favorite book isn't doing the trick.

Floribunda by Leila Duly

The Flower Year: A Coloring Book by Leila Duly

The Flower Year
 Courtesy of Amazon

Here's an alternative way to put your green thumb to work. With pages of intricate flower illustrations to bring to life with color, you'll get to tend to your own garden and bouquets on paper. This coloring book is ideal for those of us who love flowers but can't manage to keep our plants alive.

Color Me Cluttered by Durell Godfrey

Color Me Cluttered
Courtesy of Barnes & Noble  

The polar opposite of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, this cheeky coloring book is full of illustrations that speak to the clutter we accumulate. So, if you don't feel like tidying up IRL, color in these drawings instead.

The Mindfulness Coloring Book by Emma Farrarons

The Mindfulness Coloring Book
 Courtesy of Amazon

So maybe cleaning isn't your idea of calm. If that's the case, opt for this mindfulness coloring book instead. With images of calming, spacious landscapes, this book brings some peace to your busy day.

Paris Street Style by Zoe de las Cases

Paris Street Style
 Courtesy of Amazon

Get inspired by this coloring book that transports you to the most stylish streets of Paris. Filled with beautiful outfits set against the backdrop of detailed city spaces, you're sure to enjoy filling in these pages if you like fashion and traveling.

Alexander Girard Coloring Book

Alexander Girard Coloring Book
 Courtesy of Amazon

Admire American designer Alexander Girard's iconic, cheerful work while filling in images of creatures, faces, and places with color. Then, check out Girard's original designs in full color on the back cover.

A Million Cats: Fabulous Felines to Color by Lulu Mayo

A Million Cats
 Courtesy of Barnes & Noble 

There's nothing more relaxing than hanging with a purring, cuddly cat—but if there isn't one available, this coloring book will do. Color in cats on buses, riding bicycles, playing instruments, and more.

Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford

Enchanted Forest
Courtesy of Target 

This coloring book by Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford is a No. 1 New York Times bestseller. Color an enchanted forest to find out what lies in the castle. There are hidden objects and mazes to discover, too.

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