Colouring used to be reserved for children and the occasional adult who got to babysit them, but recently, the activity has found a different demographic. What started as a niche hobby has now turned into an international trend, as adult colouring books find themselves on more and more best-sellers' lists throughout the world. However, while this trend may be a fun way to pass the time, it’s the books’ therapeutic properties that really have them flying off shelves.
The therapeutic science
There are plenty of studies on the effectiveness of art therapy in reducing stress, and colouring seems to offer some similar benefits. Whilst colouring books, or art in general, may not be able to cure things such as disease or mental health issues, it can make coping with such problems a lot easier. Researchers have acknowledged the therapeutic qualities of art for years, and today art therapy is used to help people express themselves when what they’re feeling is too difficult to put into words, such as when they’re faced with a serious medical diagnosis. Just like meditation, colouring allows people to switch off from other thoughts and focus only on the moment, helping to alleviate free-floating anxiety. It can be particularly effective for people who aren't comfortable with more creatively expressive forms of art.
Previous research has demonstrated that using art therapy often has tangible results. For instance, a 2006 study found that mindfulness art therapy for women with cancer helped to significantly decrease symptoms of physical and emotional distress during treatment. Ground breaking research in 2005 proved anxiety levels dropped when subjects coloured mandalas, which are round frames with geometric patterns inside. However, simply doodling had no effect in reducing the other subjects’ stress levels.
An array of mainstream media companies around the world recently reported on how a surge in the number of people buying adult colouring books has threatened pencil stocks world-wide, with manufacturers struggling to cope with an increased demand for quality crayons. The world’s biggest wooden pencil manufacturer, Faber-Castell, say they are experiencing "double-digit growth" in the sale of artists’ pencils and have been forced to run more shifts in their German factory to keep up. The famous European pencil manufacturers Staedtler and Stabilo are also struggling to keep up with demand according to the New Zealand Herald.
We now work with APL Health, a market-leading occupational health and wellbeing provider, dedicated to preventing and managing staff absences in our schools. All of our clients have access to APL Health at no additional cost to their policy. The APL Health Team are both innovative and forward thinking in their solutions and resources, and so have been using colouring books for close to a year now. Their team believes firmly in the therapeutic potential of colouring to reduce anxiety, create focus or bring about more mindfulness. They therefore provide colouring books to all members of staff covered by our policy that feel they would benefit from one, or would simply like to try one out! For more information about APL Health or for your very own colouring book, please email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website here.