The days of colouring being just for kids is over! And for good reason: using colouring books as an adult has a number of great benefits for your health and mood.
So next time you're feeling stressed or your mind is racing, pour yourself a cup of tea, reach for some crayons and spend some time doodling in a colouring book. Here's why:
It redirects nagging thoughts
When you're worried about something, it's easy to let anxious thoughts consume you. Even when you try to think about something else, negative thoughts may obsessively push their way back into your mind until they're all you can focus on.
One key to dealing with anxiety is re-directing your brain to think about something calmer or more productive. Colouring books help your brain do just that: by thinking about which colours would look best and smoothly filling in the blank spaces of the design, you force your brain to consider something other than your nagging thoughts.
It can help free your mind
It's no surprise that people come up with their best ideas in the shower - having some peaceful "me time" away from technology and responsibilities frees up your mind's creative juices. Colouring works in much the same way, letting you unwind and disconnect. When you're relaxed, your brain subconsciously works through problems and considers ideas from different perspectives. Colouring for an hour or two may help you work out a solution to a persistent problem you've been having.
Believe it or not, famed psychologist Carl Jung was a proponent of adult colouring. According to an article written by telehealth counsellor Dr. Nikki Martinez for The Huffington Post, Jung thought the activity was like a form of meditation and helped people get in touch with their thoughts and dreams.
It can reduce anxiety
Colouring books are similar in nature to other mindfulness practices like yoga, according to a powerful article reprinted in the National Post. These activities work like a "volume knob to turn down the sympathetic nervous system, the stress response" explains Mayo Clinic clinical psychologist Craig Sawchuk.
In one of the few studies of the mental health aspects of colouring, college students were asked to write about something that scared them, then were asked to either colour a blank page or a pattern, according to an article in Reader's Digest Canada. The students who coloured a pattern were found to be less anxious than those who coloured a blank page.
It helps manage pain
Some people find that colouring books can help them manage chronic pain and have a positive outlook during illness. The article in the National Post about the power of colouring provides two examples: 67-year-old Joanne Schwandes, who says that colouring has strengthened her fine motor skills after she suffered a tremour in her arm, and Dr. Nikki Martinez, who turned to colouring books to reduce stress while she was in bed for eight weeks after surgery.
It gets you away from a screen
In a world where you're bombarded by internet content and social media, colouring books can help you reduce screen time. As Reader's Digest Canada noted, by trading your smartphone for a colouring book before bed, you can decrease your exposure to the sleep-disrupting blue light given off by electronic devices.
"Colouring books can help you reduce screen time."
It can be done as a family activity
Colouring books are an inexpensive and fun activity that can be done together as a family. It can teach kids — who are growing up in a digital-heavy environment — the importance of disconnecting from time to time as well as a strategy for dealing with stress and anxiety in a healthy way.
Tips for colouring books
If you haven't picked up a colouring book in ages, have no fear: it's easy to get right back into it! Follow these tips to get the most benefits from colouring:
- Focus on the process: savoring each part of the colouring process, from the way the crayons smell to the vibrancy of the colors, helps you reap the most stress-reducing benefits, according to Reader's Digest Canada. And don't multitask or watch TV while colouring - devote yourself solely to the activity.
- Find a colouring book that matches your interests: there are so many colouring books out there, from nature-themed designs to versions dedicated to specific hobbies, you're sure to find the perfect one for you.
With all these benefits, it's worth using colouring books as part of your healthy lifestyle.