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Adult colouring in books have become extremely popular in Brisbane, with some bookstores selling out faster than they can supply them. But why are we so drawn to an activity that has traditionally been limited to small children?

In a recent video, Dr Matthew Worthington explained how the act of colouring in can be helpful with treating stress and anxiety disorders. As well as the comforting feeling that comes from revisiting one’s childhood, “colouring in helps you to deviate from the thought path that’s causing the anxiety and stress”.

Specialty bookstore Scrumptious Reads had completely sold out of adult colouring in books, which are now sitting at number one on Amazon’s top sellers list. According to Julie Tjiandra, store owner of Scrumptious Reads, “They were sold very fast and we couldn’t keep up with demand”.

Colouring in isn’t just a solitary pursuit, either. On June 30th, Scrumptious Reads held Brisbane’s first Colour Circle, where people can de-stress and bond together over a glass of wine and a colouring book.

Psychologists say it’s real interaction with instant gratification

In his TED Talk, Hungarian Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explores how lasting satisfaction can be found by engaging in activities that bring about a state of “flow”. Flow is a state of calm contentment, where time stands still as we become fully absorbed in what we’re doing.

Activities best suited to enabling a state of flow are those that tax our skills to the limit without going over, so we feel challenged but not overwhelmed. Colouring fits this description, as it presents a series of small creative and motor function challenges that can be solved without too much mental effort (for example, deciding which colours will work together, or trying to stay perfectly within the lines). As Dr Worthington explains, “it’s very satisfying and that’s the key to it”.

“It’s adult art with a childish twist, but look between the lines and it’s so much more!”

If you want to try out some adult colouring in books for yourself, has a great selection. ‘The Mindfulness Colouring Book: Anti-Stress Art Therapy for Busy People’ has proven to be very popular among adults who are young at heart.

For more help on treating anxiety, please visit Brisbane Counselling Centre’s Anxiety Counselling page to learn the indicators of different anxiety disorders, and contact our counselling psychologists if you’d like someone to talk to. Please watch the video below for the full interview.

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