Monday, 14 March 2016

Stressed? 8 reasons you need to get a colouring book

We all know people who sit in class, or meetings, doodling away on a spare piece of paper.

If we're up at the front talking we may even wonder if these people are listening to us, but it now seems that there is proof that doodling and colouring can improve our stress levels and help our concentration.

There is even evidence which suggests doodling whilst listening can help us with recall (Andrade, 2010) so maybe those doodlers will remember more of your presentation than those who seemed to be more attentive.

According to the Huffington Post, one of the first therapists to use colouring was Carl Jung, who asked his patients to create mandalas, designs of concentric circles. Psychologists now believe colouring and doodling de-stress us because
  • it triggers a range of areas in the brain, the logical part which deals with structure and design, the emotional part which responds to choosing and combining colours and the cerebral cortex which is involved in using fine motor skills and physical co-ordination
  • it encourages physical relaxation which lowers activity in the amygdala, which in turn has a large part to play in the stress response
  • it gives us something to think about which distracts us from our worries
  • it keeps our hands busy (one reason that for years I've suggested colouring and puzzle books to my clients who are quitting smoking)
  • it’s a form of play that's accessible to anyone, taking us back to childhood when we probably had fewer stresses than now
  • it’s a simple form of creativity for those who wouldn’t normally consider themselves 'artistic'
  • our colour choices can both reflect and affect our mood and how we're feeling
  • the focussed attention required has elements in common with mindfulness and simple meditative states, which are known to help reduce stress levels

In fact, adult colouring books are currently big business, a trend which is thought to have started in France but which is quickly making its way across the channel.

Waterstones' reports a 300 per cent rise in sales year-on-year between Christmas 2013 and 2014, and Foyles' new premises has allocated hugely increased shelf space to the genre. A search on facebook for 'adult colouring' at the time of writing came up with a large number of groups for those who enjoy the pastime to get together and share their experiences.

Adult colouring books range across all types of image so you should find something you like, whether that's  abstract, nature or even 'adult themed' versions. But if you just fancy giving it a try, have a search on the Net - many sites give away easily printable colouring images for free.

And let me know in the comments below if it helps your stress.


Author: is a professional stress management coach, specialising in working with individuals and smaller employers to minimise stress and maximise feeling in control.Debbie is has also written about helping people with IBS in the Hypnotherapy Handbook which is available from
Find out more about Debbie's services on  or phone 01977 678593

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