What was once a popular childhood pastime has become the latest trend in relaxation.
Adult colouring books sales have skyrocketed recently and some bookstores are struggling to keep up with demand.
The owner of Collins Booksellers in Willeton, Lloyd Christopher, says he’s been left stunned by the response from shoppers.
“The colouring books have been flying off the shelves and the ongoing popularity has been really surprising,” Mr Christopher says.
“Publishers have cottoned on to the trend as well and the market has been flooded as everyone tries to cash in.”
Mr Christopher says the new trend has provided book stores with an extra boost at a time when they’re facing pressure from the growth of ebooks and online retailers.
“People can’t colour online so it has been a really positive thing for bookstores in terms of sales,” he says.
According to the latest Nielsen BookScan poll, five out of the top 10 books in Australia are adult colouring books.
The Mindfulness Colouring Book by Emma Farrarons is the second ranked best seller behind the international best selling novel, Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee.
The colouring books are also being used for therapeutic purposes.
Clinical Psychologist Claire White says colouring in can help people unwind.
“Doing an activity like colouring is relaxing because it’s predictable and reminds us of a simpler time,” Dr White says.
“There is no uncertainly in colouring between the lines, which is calming.
“And by focusing on this relaxing task the research shows we can change our brain waves from being in a pressured, stressed state to a more relaxed state.”
Some psychologists suggest colouring books to patients as part of a broader treatment plan to help with problems such as anxiety.
“Any activity that is enjoyable, relaxing or helps cultivate awareness of the present moment is helpful for people experiencing anxiety,” Dr White says.
“Mindfulness colouring can be used as a cognitive tool to train the mind away from anxiety provoking thoughts and help people learn to relate their thoughts differently.”
Samantha Augeaurd, 27, suffers from anxiety and uses colouring books to help her relax.
“I find it really allows me to take my mind off things and allows me to concentrate on something else,” Ms Augeard says.
“I will happily sit for an hour and just colour in and once I find the right colour scheme I find it very satisfying.”
She also likes that colouring involves switching off from technology.
“It’s not a screen which is why I like it,” Ms Augeard says.
“It’s not a phone, it’s not a TV, it’s just back to basics.”
While colouring books can be effective for some therapeutic purposes, they aren’t recommended for more serious cases.
“Although mindfulness colouring can be used in conjunction with other therapies, it is not a substitute for professional help if this is needed,” Dr White says.
“For people with moderate to severe depression and anxiety, working one on one with a trained psychologist will usually have the best outcomes.”
Dr White says while there’s a large amount of research showing the benefits of mindfulness-based therapy the research into the specific effects of mindfulness colouring is only in its early stages.