It isn’t just the simple, large-print ones we used to do in primary school; this resurging trend encompasses intricate, complex artworks designed especially for adults to sit down and have fun. Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford tops the Amazon bestsellers list in the US with Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book, selling more than 1.4 million copies in 22 languages since it was published in 2013. A second book, entitled Enchanted Forest, has since been released.
These colouring books are at the end of a rapidly growing movement, where colouring books are used as a form of anxiety therapy, according to another report by SMH. Big businesses, such as ANZ Bank, Wesfarmers, and Bupa, are handing them out to employees to counteract stress in the workplace.
Image from JohannaBasford.com
Neuropsychologist Stan Rodski, author of Colourtation, the anti-stress colouring book for adults, believes that the act of ‘colouring between the lines’ helps refocus the mind. He describes the brain as having four ‘states’ that produce different brainwave frequencies: the active Beta state; resting Alpha state; hypnoidal, pre-sleep Theta; and deep sleep Delta. The brain switches between these states throughout the day, but sometimes it needs a little extra help, especially when under pressure.
Colouring, he says, is one of those manual ‘switches’ we can perform to help ease our brains into its Alpha state, which occurs when we are relaxed, such as during meditation, listening to music, or watching television.
Image from Colourtation.com
"This brain of ours in its current shape is about 150 million years old and still operates as if it were 150 million years ago," he tells Sydney Morning Herald. "But in the last 20 years we have started to keep it awake and active more than we ever have in our whole history. Now that has consequences.
"By colouring, we move ourselves from these beta waves to an alpha wave. It is akin to sitting listening to music, or focusing on watching your favourite TV program; you are singular, you are not focusing on a lot of things."
These colouring books have also been adopted into rehabilitation therapy for patients who are recovering from strokes, or suffering from dementia. Users enjoy a sense of nostalgia as they work, and can reap the benefits of a relaxed, refocused mind.
Image by Eugene Kim - Flickr
Other such titles include 100 Coloriages Anti-Stress, The Mindfulness Colouring Book: Anti-stress art therapy for busy people by Emma Farraron, and the Colour Me Good series of celebrity colouring books by Mel Simone Elliott.
A new title by Melbourne-based artist Thomas Pavitte was released this month, called Querkles: Masterpiece. It is a follow-up to his highly successful first title Querkles, a colour-by-numbers book that creates famous artworks such as the Mona Lisa as users start filling in the colours.
What do you think of this trend? Do you find colouring in therapeutic? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!