The lovely folks at Jacqui Small Publishing have kindly sent me a couple of colouring books for adults to review. I was intrigued by the idea, partly because the accompanying publicity had some really interesting stuff to say about the benefits of colouring for relaxation.
As someone who can be a bit overwhelmed by stress sometimes (home educating 2 autistic kids whilst trying to build a small business will do that to you!), I have lots of different strategies and techniques to use when I need to switch off… I know a lot of us use sewing for just this purpose, but because sewing is also my job, sometimes I need to get away from stitching too…
My best activities for diverting my mind are taking a walk with the pooch and my lovely family, reading a page-turning novel, playing ancient computer games (Age of Empires is my favourite), doing Sudoku puzzles, baking or generally mucking around in the kitchen, and now I am trying to do meditation too… But I am always interested in new stress-busting stuff for my tool kit!
When the books arrived I grabbed my pencils (usually used for the serious business of coming up with patchwork designs) and got going. It was so nice that someone else has done all the hard design work for me and all I have to do is play around with lots of bright colours, without fear of making a bad choice (and cutting the wrong fabric!):
This design is from Art Therapy: Mandala. Mandalas have been used for centuries as part of meditation practice, so it makes sense that colouring these lovely designs is such a peaceful process.
And, happily, there’s a reason why colouring is so relaxing. Psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala says:
“The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills [coordination necessary to make small, precise movements]. The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.” (Taken from this article in the Huffington Post)
Here’s another lovely design from the book – can’t wait to get onto this one:
It is a real pleasure to think about colours and think about how the colours I am choosing reflect my mood and my response to the pictures. It got me thinking that I need a MASSIVE set of coloured pencils…
The other book is a collection of designs taken from stained glass:
I love the symmetry of these designs – and as an enthusiast of medieval and art nouveau design, this book is particularly interesting and appealing to me.
But I have resisted colouring any of the designs in this book, so I can give a copy away.. so if you’d like to find out what the colouring craze is all about, then do leave a comment (just a ‘yes please!’ will do – but tell me about your chosen relaxation techniques if you like) before midnight Sunday, and you will be in with a chance of winning Art Therapy: Stained Glass. (UK entrants only please, unless you are happy to pay overseas postage yourself).