Colouring yourself calm: why colouring-in is back

Adult colouring-in books are flying off the shelves of Avid Reader in West End as fast as they can stock them. Photo: Sarah DeasyA treasured childhood activity is now the go-to trend for practitioners of mindfulness.
Nanjing Night Net

Adult colouring-in books are flying off the shelves as fast as bookstores can stock them, providing a guided creative outlet that can help with anxiety and depression.

Book buyer for West End’s Avid Reader Sarah Deasy said the trend began some years ago with humourous adult colouring books such as Colour Me Good 80s.

“It’s really only in the last six months that it’s really picked up as art therapy,” she said.

“So we’re now getting books with really beautiful floral, wallpaper, mandalas and other patterns rather than figures.”

Ms Deasy said the juggernaut was led by Johanna Basford’s 2013 book, The Secret Garden.

“At the time it was marketed as a children’s colouring-in book,” she said.

“But it’s such a gorgeously produced book, adults started coming in asking for it as well, and that really kicked the whole thing off.”

Basford has since released a sequel, The Enchanted Forest, and books like The Mindfulness Colouring Book: Anti-stress Art Therapy for Busy People by Emma Farrarons and Colour Yourself Calm by Tiddy Rowan are in hot demand.

“I’ve been seeing photos of people going to the park with a group of friends and they sit around with their books colouring all day,” Ms Deasy said.

“People are doing colouring-in almost like book clubs.”

The pastime is huge on social media – a search of hashtags such as #colouring #colouringin #secretgarden and #enchantedforest on Instagram turns up hundreds of thousands of images.

But registered art therapist Justine Wake said the practice had deeper value as a mindfulness exercise.

“For people stuck in their own head, with a lot of anxiety and depression, it can be hard to have a mindful experience,” she said.

“If you can get someone to really just stay with the actual act of colouring-in, it’s a good practice for becoming mindful in the moment rather than getting caught up with over-thinking.”

She said practitioners could choose any colours they liked, and the existing outlines helped to build their confidence.

“You don’t really have to think, it’s very non-threatening,” she said.

“I would use it for people who are frightened of making art – and that’s common amongst adults,  lots of people have hang-ups from childhood about being bad at art.”

Dymocks currently lists three colouring-in books in its Top 10 bestseller list.

National buying manager Sophie Higgins believes their widespread appeal lie in a desire to break from the digital world.

“Digital media can be overwhelming and I know myself that I probably hit the average of 150 checks of my smartphone daily,” she said.

“As an attempt to combat what feels like an increasingly short attention span, people seem to be switching off their TVs and picking up their pencils.”

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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