A rainbow of pencils

Benefits of colouring books on your mental health

More and more colouring books are marketed towards adults in the last few years, giving us a great opportunity to indulge in our inner child. But did you know that colouring-in also has some significant benefits for your mental health?

A study in New Zealand found that women given a week of colouring-in tasks instead of other mind game tasks “reported lower levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms, though both groups reported feeling more mindful”. Those who conducted the study also explain that, due to the low risk nature and accessibility of colouring-in, it is a small act of creativity that can be achieved everyday to improve mental health. 

  • One of the benefits of colouring is its ability to distract your mind from anxious or worrying thoughts. Focusing on colouring in the picture the way you want stops you from thinking about things you are concerned about, and can be used as a very effective calming tool.
  • Colouring can also be considered somewhat therapeutic. By focusing on a pleasant task/object helps to prevent negative or unhelpful thoughts, replacing them with positive ones.
  • Colouring-in can also give your amygdala (the part of your brain associated with fear and panic) a rest. Since colouring is a safe, harmless activity, your brain switches off the part that causes heightened states of worry and panic, and allows it to rest. 
  • Since colouring books take up a significant amount of time, they are also beneficial for those with mental disorders that are triggered by boredom, lack of structure, and stress. By keeping your brain occupied, less time is devoted to negative issues and habits. 
  • Colouring can also have a positive impact on your intellect. It uses the areas of the brain for focus and concentration, as well as helping with problem solving and organisation. 

With that in mind, here are a few recommendations for adult colouring books and things to colour them in with:

Kerby Rosanes has a whole range of colouring books with absolutely stunning pictures you could spend hours on. Each book has a different theme to suit everyone’s style!

There are also several books illustrated by Johanna Basford with some beautiful pictures to colour in.

If you are interested in tarot cards (check out Tash’s article here) there are several colouring books based on them, such as the Modern Witch Tarot Coloring Book or the Tarot Colouring Book by Diana McMahon Collis.

Here are some other suggestions depending on your interests!

I personally prefer using pens, especially brush pens to achieve a watercolour-like effect, and there are a number of options for these from various places, but pencils are great too if that’s more your thing. If you want to get super artistic, try using different types of paint, just make sure the colouring book you choose has thick paper or pictures of one side of the paper only so that the colour doesn’t bleed through and ruin any others.

Colouring-in is a low cost, low stress, accessible activity with a range of health benefits, not to mention it’s just loads of fun!