Why Millions of Adults Are Buying Colouring Books (For Themselves)

Move over meditation, there’s a new creative way to relax

Updated
Health News
3 min read
You’re never too old to play around with colour (Photo: The Quint)

The bestsellers across the world in 2015 were not the Bible, Dan Brown or Harper Lee novels, they were ‘adult colouring books’. Yes, that’s a real thing - in fact they’re flying off the shelves worldwide. 8 out of 15 books on Amazon.com’s global bestseller list are these colouring books!

Clearly like pyjama parties, mac ‘n’ cheese and chocolate milk, colouring books are no longer just for kids.

So if you’ve had a tiring day at work, boss bringing you down or the ton of household chores competing for your attention, sit down, take a deep deep breath, and pull out your crayons. Don’t feel lost in a play-school class - this is the chic, new way to de-stress and unwind.

Adult Colouring to Channel Your Inner Wabi-Sabi

Adult colouring books are enjoying a boom. Look at this illustration from the hugely successful adult colouring book, ‘Secret Garden’, which has sold more than two million copies worldwide  (Pinterest/@<a href="https://www.pinterest.com/camymartins/">Camila Martins</a>)
Adult colouring books are enjoying a boom. Look at this illustration from the hugely successful adult colouring book, ‘Secret Garden’, which has sold more than two million copies worldwide (Pinterest/@Camila Martins)

Adult colouring books are pretty much the same as kids’ but with far more intricate detailing and unique illustrations.

So how did these become such a trend? Well, blame the Parisians for putting down the Prozac and grabbing some colour pencils. French publishers hit the jackpot when they publicised these drab book covers with words like ‘ stress-buster’, ‘art-therapy’, in the spring of 2013. And this hit all the right buttons in our current therapy-obsessed culture.

(Photo courtesy: Tmblr/@<a href="http://theinfluenceofemmekay.tumblr.com/post/109498315564">THEINFLUENCEOFEMMEKAY</a>)
(Photo courtesy: Tmblr/@THEINFLUENCEOFEMMEKAY)

So why does picking up a crayon ward off the blues?

Any structured art-therapy has the potential to cut down anxiety, and restlessness, create focus and aid mindfulness. Medical research has proved that when people colour in geometric patterns, it has these effects.

Dr Anjali Kataria, Child Psychiatrist

You do not have to be the next Monet to use this creative outlet. That’s the best part with colouring - there are no rules, no right or wrong. It is simple, has lot’s of nostalgia and lets you dive into your childhood.

Like meditation, colouring stimulates the senses and creativity. It brings out the imagination and helps in de-stressing by allowing you to focus on the moment and not on your real world problems.

Colouring Apps

Taking a large book and a pack of colours is not the most discreet thing in the world. No sweat: adult colouring apps are available in plenty, both on Andriod and iOS and are perfect for when you’re on the go or pretending to work on a Monday morning.

Most of these apps are free and promise you a super fun time!

Counter View: Silly and Whimsical?

Colouring is relaxing without the paralysis a blank page can cause (Photo courtesy: Tumblr)
Colouring is relaxing without the paralysis a blank page can cause (Photo courtesy: Tumblr)

The sales of colouring books have exploded in the US, Europe and is fast catching up in India - almost synonymous with our therapy-hungry culture.

As someone who finds peace in a structured activity, I can totally relate to why people will purchase a doodling book to kill a few minutes of boredom. But there’s a growing number of sceptics who dismiss the trend as juvenile stupor to escape adult problems and flee to the world of fantasy. They don’t agree that a moment of zen is the same as art therapy which involves a relationship with the therapist.

(Photo: Instagram/@<a href="https://www.instagram.com/creativelycoloring/">creativelycoloring</a>)
(Photo: Instagram/@creativelycoloring)

Their view is that colouring is not therapy - it won’t help someone who is traumatised. It certainly won’t solve any problems. Rather, it supports the view that our problems will go away by making a physical purchase and doing something passive.

I have to say, I do not agree with this contrarian view. Sure, we live in times when a spin-off of words like ‘healthy’, ‘stress-buster’, can be a profitable marketing fantasy but in the end, if something reminds people they enjoy art, it’s a good thing. And colouring incorporates the heady mix of one’s early 20s - the nostalgia of being a child while having the creativity of an adult.

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