The process of artistic creation has long been associated with exploring one’s feelings, reconciling emotional conflicts, fostering self-awareness, managing behaviour, reducing anxiety, and increasing self-esteem. So, it is safe to say that indulging in art is a form of therapy in itself.
Plagued with stress and anxiety during the on-going lockdown, I came across adult colouring books as a tool for managing my anxiety and remaining calm.
But before I convey my experiences with managing stress using adult colouring books, I would like to highlight that colouring books meant for adults are not your average books that we buy for children to keep them productively occupied or help them channel their inner artist.
These books are made up of high-quality paper, intricate designs and offer a wide selection of themes to unravel. So, it does not matter if you are a fan of Harry Potter, mountain sceneries or animals, you will more often than not find a pattern that suits your liking.
Here’s why adult colouring books work
According to a research published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, colouring a complex geometric design—like a mandala, for instance—creates a meditative state that is beneficial for reducing anxiety.
Colouring is calming because when we colour, we have to use both the logical left hemisphere (motor skills and attention) of our brain and the creative right hemisphere (colour, shape, imagery and emotion).
Here’s how colouring books helped me
In my case, adult colouring books proved to be really calming during stressful times, mostly because it’s a simple act and yet it occupies all my attention—distracting me from stressful triggers and helping me focus onto the present moment.
There is also a nostalgic appeal to this activity for me as it helped bring back memories of freely colouring as a child and provided me with a creative outlet to break my rigid routines.
Additionally, concentrating on colouring a particular image or pattern facilitated the replacement of negative thoughts and images with pleasant ones. And most importantly, since adult colouring books require a modest amount of attention to be focused outside our own selves, this activity ended up relaxing me, just as a session of meditation can help with reading a certain degree of mindfulness.
It might seem simple, but adult colouring books can be effective when going through difficult times. I know just how helpful they were for me.