Imagine Health

Colour Me Calm

Contrary to what you may think, the art of colouring in is not just something for those under the age of ten to do, it is fast becoming the latest craze amongst stressed and anxious adults. Every day we look for ways to escape our strict deadlines and fully packed schedules in order to recapture our carefree childhood moments as well as gain a sense of mental wellbeing and balance.

The art of using a crayon and paper to make yourself feel better is not a new phenomenon, it has been used in therapies since the early twentieth century. One of the first psychologists to see the benefits of using art as a form of expression during therapy was Carl G. Jung who used mandalas (graphic shapes that originate from India) as he believed that they were a representation of the self. This idea was continued by a French publisher- Hachette Livre, who repackaged the colouring book for adults as a way to distress from everyday life. From here, the adult colouring book popularity soared and this year, they have been placed on Amazons best seller list.

Tiddy Rowan (2014) suggests that colouring can help to introduce the concept of mindfulness. Richard Merritt who is a co-illustrator of The Creative Therapy Colouring Book agrees that the task of colouring in can be used as a diversion away from stress and anxiety, perhaps even by taking us back to our easier childhood days. Rowan and Merritt both suggest that the growing interest towards mindfulness is due to a dissatisfaction of our modern culture- we are constantly being presented with new technologies! Therefore, to escape this world of hassle, stress and anxiety; meditating through colour is one of the best ways to do it! Let’s face it, we all want an excuse to escape our current world and go back to a simpler life of when we were children so why not do it by colouring in?


•    Colouring in can be used as a form of meditation, in that the brain loves any type of rhythm and when you are colouring in, your hand is using a rhythmic motion- helping the brain to achieve a calmer and serene state. The task is useful in helping you to meditate as the whole task is repetitive and it allows you to only focus on the present moment as it relaxes you into an almost trance-like state of rhythmic motions with your crayons and picture.

•    Psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala suggests that colouring in triggers and stimulates the brain areas associated with motor skills, creativity, and the senses. It can also distract your mind from the problems you have going on in your everyday life; as a result of this, you are left feeling relaxed and rested.

•    Colouring in can also help with your hand-eye coordination, it requires more of an effort from your brain, especially if you are colouring an intricate pattern and this can help to delay the loss of coordination as we age as well as fight the progress of cognitive loss.

•    Colouring in can also help you to perform better when you are at work, the Occupational and Organisational Psychology Journal references a recent study that suggests creative activities outside of work had both indirect and direct effects on performance within the workplace.


Therese Ellis
Assistant Psychologist