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In 2013, Scottish artist and illustrator Johanna Basford released her first colouring book for adults, Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book. Since then, Secret Garden has sold two million copies worldwide, while Basford’s second book, Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest and Colouring Book, has been one of the bestselling books on Amazon.com this year.
Basford’s books are just two of the thousands of colouring books bought by adults around the world, in what publishers are calling the ‘year of the grown up colouring book’. And the reason why they are doing so is for stress relief.
Although many therapists are sceptical about colouring being a form of therapy, there are others who say that that it can help improve moods, reduce anxiety and relieve stress. Most colouring books available online market themselves as useful tools to promote mindfulness, a strategy that is used around the world to combat depression. Experts believe that the gentle activity of choosing colours to fill in the intricate designs that grace the pages of adult colouring books, and the repetitive action of the colouring itself focuses the brain on the present, blocking out intrusive thoughts, a key symptom of mental illness.
While there don’t appear to be any concrete studies on the health benefits of colouring, The American Lung Association recommends it as one of its 52 stress reducers, while a recent study by San Francisco State University titled Benefiting from Creative Activity proved that people who are involved in creative activities outside work are better at dealing with stress. Most adults who buy colouring books are staunch proponents of their benefits and say that not only do they help mindfulness and stress relief, colouring for an hour before bedtime is also an excellent way of combating insomnia.
– Marylou Andrew