I’m not one for following creative trends.
Over the years I’ve avoided the likes of loom bands and other craft-like endeavours in favour of the comfort of a laptop screen and a Netflix subscription: I’m almost obscenely proud of the amount of time I can spend happily watching the most awful of American TV shows.
But I’ve been trying new things – opening my mind as some would say – and so the recent wave of adult colouring books has taken me by surprise, for the fact that they actually appeal to me. Adult colouring books are being consistently marketed as ‘tools for mindfulness.’ They are portrayed as relievers, as mediums through which we can reduce the stress and anxiety that have become common symptoms of modern life.
As adults we deal with difficult, emotional issues on a daily basis, ranging from financial worries to relationship troubles. We often haven’t developed the faculties to handle such problems effectively – instead we dwell on things we cannot control and in turn allow negative thoughts to control us.
Students are particularly feeling the strain; there’s the last-minute deadline panic, worries about stretching yourself too thin, and finally the anti-climax of a graduation ceremony. At university I defined myself as the person who was involved in every interesting project going – though I’m often happiest when busy, I often felt that I wasn’t able to make any time for myself. This is where adult colouring comes in.
After getting my first colouring book, I decided to set aside an hour each day to focus on a particular page or pattern. I’d work on my book whenever I felt overwhelmed by my workload or was at a dead-end during essay writing; I’d also pick up the colouring pencils when I was unable to concentrate or was simply sick of writing, editing, or even just answering my emails.
It may sound like a cliché, an infantile one at that – reverting to crayons after a bad day at work. But finding some time for yourself to maintain a focus, particularly on an activity that can be both relaxing and creative, is extremely effective at putting your work into perspective.
There are also some stunning publications to choose from. Adult colouring books are usually based around elegant themes ranging from mandalas to cityscapes to wild animals, whatever suits your current mood. The practice of colouring is the perfect antidote for those times when you can’t escape your worries – it can help organise your thoughts and allow you to regain focus on your original task, so you can return to it without reluctance.
If you’re a serial multitasker, now is the time to get some colouring pencils and just sit in a quiet room with your book. It’s an easy excuse to turn off your phone and withdraw from social media, if only for an hour or so. Adult colouring shouldn’t be a replacement for therapy, or be exalted as a cure for mental health issues. It’s simply a creative tool that has the potential to inspire you for a few hours each day, something that could create a space for you to concentrate on yourself and get your thoughts together. It’s worth a try.
Words by Lydia Osborne