I know you’ve seen them. They’re everywhere. At the newsagent, in bookstores, even in the magazine aisle of the supermarket. Adult colouring in books, also known as mindfulness colouring books – there’s simply no escaping them! All of a sudden, colouring is THE hot new thing in wellbeing. It’s supposed to help improve focus and concentration, while promoting relaxation. Many are also touting colouring as a wonderful form of therapy. But is this going a bit far? Now I love a good colouring session as much as the next girl, and I’m super happy I have two artsy kidlets, for whom I can buy hundreds of Smiggle pens which I immediately claim as my own!
But while colouring might be fun, is it actually good for our health? Is it really therapy?
I went to an expert for the answers. My wonderful friend Belinda Ryan is an art therapist and owner of Ignite Art Therapies. I asked her to tell us her thoughts on mindfulness colouring. Here’s what she had to say:
Yes! Lets talk about colouring.
There is definitely an ever increasing trend toward colouring books. Not just for kids but for all of us with a number of Amazon’s best sellers being Adult Colouring books.
So why has this taken off so much? There are a few reasons. Firstly, it is quite nostalgic to pick up a set of colouring pencils, it takes us to a place where we once were – the innocence, the freedom to do what we want and to be totally in the moment. I think we all have that little child inside us that wants to be creative, and this trend gives us permission to do so. It’s also about moments to play – we live in such a rule stricken world and it’s a great thing that we can play with a pencil and a page, one section at a time.
But the main benefit of mindful colouring is that of focus.
There is something about colouring that takes you to a peaceful place. It’s the repetitive action and zoning into a focused state that is of benefit. While you are colouring you are absorbed in that one activity and the rest of the world is on hold. When we colour our mind slows down and those things that stress us out disappear for a moment. It’s relaxing, meditative and allows us to centre our energy – something that is very hard to capture in this fast paced world in which we live.
Without trying to burst the ‘colouring is amazing’ bubble, there have been many claims that this is art therapy and while it is very therapeutic in nature, and a brilliant mindfulness activity, it is just that. It doesn’t tackle the things that are causing the stress, anxiety, fear, hormone enraged anger or withdrawal, but rather it gives us some respite from it. Art therapy differs as it allows those issues to be present so that they can be explored, understood, transformed and let go of ,through facilitated creative exploration.
That being said, colouring definitely is of benefit and it is something I give my clients to do as a zone out activity. There are numerous activities that calm us down, let the world disappear for a while and as long as we don’t fully escape the things we need to deal with (that’s what art therapy is for), then colouring is a good thing.
So there you have it – advice on colouring from an expert. Yes, it is wonderful, and yes it can be part of a therapy program, but on it’s own it is not therapy. So if you feel like you need some support to work through any issues and you fancy the idea of doing it through art, make sure you check out a qualified art therapist, such as Belinda.