Since Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden hit the shelves across the world, adult colouring books have only grown in popularity. From mandala designs to enchanted forests to the Harry Potter world, there are a variety of different themed colouring books to strike everyone’s fancy. While their allure may in large be attributed to adult nostalgia for childhood activities, there are a myriad of health benefits associated with this special form of play causing many therapists to even prescribe adult colouring books as a form of therapy or coping tool.
So what is it about colouring books that make them such a great mental health tool?
One of the biggest reasons why these books win such rave reviews is because the act of colouring in pictures and intricate designs is an easy and quick way to unwind after a tiring, stressful day. In one study, researchers first induced anxiety in a group of undergraduate students and then prompted them to colour a blank page, a plaid print, or a mandala for 20 minutes to see if it impacted anxiety levels. The researchers found that the two designs lowered anxiety with the mandala having a slightly bigger impact than the plaid print. These results point towards the importance of creative expression and play on adult mental health. Colouring not only allows individuals to express themselves creatively but also pins one's focus on the act of filling in the images, which can help reduce stress by taking attention away from stressful thoughts. For those who have a hard time practicing mindfulness or meditation, colouring may be a more effective alternative as it provides a focal object or task thus reducing the chances of getting distracted by thoughts or happenings in the outside world.
While colouring can help relieve stress, it is also a fun activity and the perfect way for adults to add some play in their lives. Play is often described as the recreational activity of children, one that involves imagination, fun, and lack of structure, and is considered to be critical to their intellectual and social, emotional development. For similar reasons, play can be a great antidote to stress in adults, allowing individuals to enjoy the simple act of colouring without being concerned about performance or “how well they have coloured”.
Adult colouring books can be found in most bookstores as well as online. Give one a try and see if it helps you feel any more relaxed and content. At the very least, it will be a fun activity to do!
Ali, S. (2018). Are Adult Coloring Books Actually Helpful? Retrieved from www.psychologytoday.com
Fitzpatrick, K. (2017). Why adult coloring books are good for you. Retrieved from www.cnn.com