Adult colouring books have taken off this past year, as people reflect on their childhood. Many are left wondering “why are adults colouring?”

The main reason is because it is proven to help with stress. Colouring helps to unlock happy memories – the moments when we were most carefree – which helps to relieve tension and stress. These memories help refocus our minds on a single task that we associate with being at ease. As life gets busier, we all need that vital time to recharge, and it seems this childhood pursuit is helping many to get back to basics.

When kids are first introduced to colouring, it helps them to improve concentration as they move from colouring simple pictures to more complex ones. It also teaches patience because it takes time and effort to stay between the lines. Most importantly – as is the case with adults – it takes kids’ minds off stressful situations and helps them relax. The focus required for colouring also serves as a creative outlet and distraction from hectic schedules.

just-add-color book coverAs the popularity of colouring has risen, it’s become more of a social event than therapy. Artist and author of the adult colouring book Just Add Color: Botanicals, Lisa Congdon, says, “I think for women who don’t know how to draw or don’t feel confident drawing, this is another way to socialize and have an activity that they can do with other people and because you don’t need to concentrate very much when you’re colouring, you can talk and have glass of wine.”

The patterns used in the colouring books also have a special significance. While many now include funny themes like cuss words or beards, the original designs are rooted in mandala, which is Sanskrit for “circle.” A mandala’s geometric shape has no beginning and no end.

In Buddhism, a mandala is used to facilitate meditation and can be used as a metaphor for the universe, a community or a single person. The detail in the mandalas is what experts believe helps adults use their focus to de-stress while colouring. Even Carl Jung tried to get his patients to colour in mandalas. His goal was to give his patients focus and allow the subconscious to let go.

The joy of colouring books is that there is no correct way to colour one. Inside the lines, outside the lines, with only one colour…it doesn’t matter. Any method that allows you to recharge or relax is the right method. With colouring, there are infinite possibilities, which is a metaphor for our unlimited potential.


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