Colored Pencils, Markers, and ADHD

Colored Pencils, Markers, and ADHD

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Have you noticed the recent popularity of adult coloring books?

They’re everywhere, at all kinds of prices. Including free, if you do a search on the internet or Pinterest.

I actually considered buying some for my daughters for Christmas, but ended up deciding against it. The topic came up, however, over the holidays, and we all ended up with new adult coloring books and colored pencils.

Colored Pencils, Markers, and ADHD

This actually isn’t something new. I remember my sister-in-law purchasing coloring books and crayons for herself as well as her kids. She doesn’t have ADHD, but she found coloring to be enjoyable and relaxing.

Adult coloring books are generally a little different from children’s coloring books. They tend to have overall designs rather than a picture that depicts a scene, such as a child riding a bike.

If you take the time to look, you will find that there are intricate designs and simpler ones. My oldest daughter and I prefer the simpler ones.

She is a perfectionist and finds the intricate ones too demanding while I find them overwhelming.

This type of coloring is especially effective for people with ADHD on a number of levels:

  • It promotes calm and can ease anxiety because your mind is on the task of coloring
  • It helps you focus
  • It gives your busy mind a rest by keeping the right brain – the one that’s got 6,000 tabs open in your own personal internet – something to do

Another alternative to coloring in an adult coloring book is to simply doodle.

You might want to buy yourself a blank sketchbook to keep on hand for this, or you can just doodle on whatever is at hand.

I used to do this a lot when I was in school (college too) because, although I didn’t know it at the time, doodling was helping me pay better attention to the lecture and retain more of the material. Even if you’re not in school, it can help you at times when you need to concentrate and remember something.

If you’re into scrapbooking or art journaling like I am, you might want to keep those doodles to add to your creations.

I did some doodling of my own this evening and came up with a page that you can download, print, and color if you like. Just right click on it and save it to your computer. This is my first time doing something like this, so I hope it works!



Maybe it will give you inspiration for your own doodles, or let you try your hand at coloring and see how you like it. You will notice that it is very imperfect; that’s OK. Art should be an expression of creativity, not perfection.

By the way, colored pencils or fine point markers work best for this kind of coloring; crayons are too fat.


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Lacy Estelle

Lacy Estelle is the writer of and the Podcast host for An ADD Woman.

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4 Responses

  1. Coloring books seem simple enough for kids. And yes, they work wonders for adults with ADHD as well. For those willing to get past the stigma and indulge they can be a great stress reliever.

  2. I actually just prefer the children’s colouring books. I find the adult ones require so much focus as its so intricate and it exhasuts me. So, I sit with my kids and colour a page from their books. I find the long sweeping motion of trying to colour in a larger block more relaxing. My daughter uses the adult one haha!

  3. I think coloring books are like crossword puzzles — each correctly filled in space gives us a tiny victory and completing the whole thing gives us a larger one. The lack of any further value doesn’t matter — we feel good.