Why colouring books build mindfulness and organisation cohesion.

What prompted the sales of colouring books in U.S. to jump from 1 to 12 million units last year? (Nielsen data). How come 5 of the top 10 best-selling books in the United States were adult colouring books in 2015?  And this trend is not limited to just the U.S., it can be seen globally from South America to Asia, with book stores carrying a wide selection of colouring books. In May 2016, Faber-Castell, the world’s biggest wooden pencil manufacturer, said that they are experiencing double digit growth due to the popularity of adult colouring books.

In a nutshell, this pastime which used to be seen as exclusively a child’s activity, is now evolving in to a major draw for adults.  This is because it is proving to be a highly effective way to de-stress and get the creative juices going.  Even more intriguing though, is that this form of colouring cultivates, with a little guidance; clarity, focus and mindfulness. This is partly because when we are engaged in relaxing tasks like colouring, which require gentle attention and focus yet little rational thought, we begin to access a deeper and greater personal wisdom. John Kounios a psychologist who studies creativity and distraction told WIRED, “you become less aware of your environment and more aware of your internal thoughts.”

Adult colouring, it seems, can lead to greater self-awareness, break through thinking, more clarity and focus, more capacity to pay attention and it regulates the nervous system leaving one with a deeper sense of calm and well-being.

The World Health Organisation predicts that work related stress, burnout and depression will be among the world’s most prevalent diseases in 2020. It is for this reason, some of Australia’s biggest companies, such as ANZ, BUPA, Amaysim & Wesfarmers are now leading the way in buying colouring books, in bulk, to help their staff manage stress and better deal with the modern workplace.

ANZ’s head of human resources for global markets and loans, Kerrie Harris, told The Sydney Morning Herald, “The colouring book is a great way to de-stress and clear my mind when I find I’m getting distracted or need clarity.” she said. “Even 30 seconds of colouring makes me feel relaxed and ready to conquer the next conversation or task.”

For the nostalgic among us, there is something reminiscent of the good old day, when we go back to basics and use a pencil and paper in contrast to the glare of the computer screen. Ms. Basford, whose colouring books for grown-ups have sold some 16 million copies worldwide, including three million in China alone, told the Sunday Telegraph: “People like colouring-in because they are fed up with digital.”

Smartphones can affect our brains and bodies in ways that are harder to measure and a growing body of research shows that exposure to bright blue light of tablets and smartphones can disrupt a person’s circadian sleep rhythm also providing another reason to use paper based tools.

ABOUT: Jaya Machet,  Executive Coach   incorporates mindfulness in her coaching work with clients. Whilst initially skeptical, she turned to become an advocate of the colouring book trend when she discovered the intriguing effect it was having on her clients.  She noticed therapeutic benefits on people’s health and wellbing and most of all how it was helping to cultivate mindfulness.  Jaya was inspired to create a set of 5 unique colouring posters as an innovative way to help her clients develop the qualities they were most interested in:  open mindedness, balanced judgement, letting go, acceptance of what is and patience.Working with a textile designer Myriam Combier, the posters specifically focus on enhancing these five mindful qualities.  Added benefits of the colouring posters is the reduction in stress individuals experience.  With teams, Jaya also notices when colleagues engage in colouring the posters together, there is a bonding effect and conversations are sparked off around an appreciation of one another’s style and approach resulting in greater connection and trust between co-workers.

Written by

Jaya Machet

Jaya Machet is an Executive coach, Visual & Business Story Powered Communication Facilitator. She helps humanise the workplace through meaningful communication.