Why colouring books aren’t just for kids

Registered Nurse and Mindfulness Expert at Bupa UK
16 May 2016
An image of some colouring pencils

How do you choose to relax after a hard day’s work? Some jog, others practise yoga, or you may prefer to enjoy a good book. But recently, more and more people are getting out their felt tips or colouring pencils and colouring in.

If you’ve been through any book shop lately, you’ll have surely spotted a number of colouring books specifically for adults out on display. They are even on Amazon’s bestseller list. While there is little scientific research on the therapeutic benefits of adult colouring in, there are however many blogs and articles sharing positive benefits of colouring in as a pastime.

Lots of people report that colouring in helps them to unwind and de-stress after a busy day. Here are some of the benefits that have been shared.

Why do we like colouring in? 

Relax and unwind

It may help us to relax and unwind. Colouring in is a rhythmical and repetitive activity; it gives you space to just focus on a relaxing task, away from the demands of daily life. There’s no need to think or decide anything major – just simply fill in the gaps with colour.

Release your inner child

It gives us an opportunity to engage in an activity that takes us back to childhood. Doing something that allows you to just ‘play’ is something we often don’t do enough in our busy lives. There are no rules when it comes to colouring in, though you may want to try and stay inside the lines! But you can use any colours you want; nobody will tell you whether it's right or wrong.

Be rebellious

Colouring in gives us a chance to be a little rebellious by making the grass purple and the sky pink. And by doing so, your piece of artwork will be unlike anyone else’s. Only you will choose the colours that you do and the shapes you choose to colour in.

Set up a colouring club

Colouring can be done in a group so it’s a bit like the benefits of a book club or knitting circle. It gives an opportunity for socialising outside of work; a common interest which takes our mind and body away from thinking about work, children, studies, etc.

Time out and digital detox

Colouring can be done alone – a bit of ‘time out’ can give you respite from the digital world in which we live. Putting pen to paper can be a good way to switch off from the screen, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Furthermore, you can do it pretty much anywhere – at your desk during a break at work, on a park bench, on a train or simply at home.

Learn new skills

If you feel that creativity isn’t your strength then colouring in is a great way to try something new and learn a new skill, using a template that’s ready and waiting for you. A blank page can feel daunting but a template is much less intimidating. And you might discover an artistic flair you didn’t know you had!

Feel a sense of achievement

Colouring in can give a sense of achievement. We’re constantly on the go, having to make decisions, running from one task to another. Completing activities gives us a little release of dopamine (a happy hormone) that makes us feel good.

Stimulate your senses

Getting creative is a great way to light up your senses, particularly when using colour. Choose the brightest pens and pencils and get to work!

And don’t forget the fun factor

The main thing here – about colouring in or any other similar activity – is that if you enjoy it, do it. You don’t have to over think and analyse it scientifically – perhaps it is what it is: fun. Why not try putting a colouring book or sketch pad near your sofa. Before reaching for the TV remote, do some colouring or doodling for a bit of mindful, creative and fun relaxation.

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Jane Bozier
Registered Nurse and Mindfulness Expert at Bupa UK

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