You might have noticed that shelves in bookshops have been taken over by colouring books. If you aren’t up to date with what’s going on, this might seem ridiculous and childish. and Why are they prioritising colouring books over actual pieces of literature? This post introduces a series of answers, so welcome to part one of Keeping the Child in You Alive.

Recently, adult colouring has become the new craze. Much like meditation, adult colouring is considered a form of therapeutic release. It has introduced a new and creative way for adults to express themselves through putting colour on a page. The concept has been praised by psychologists and therapists around the world, and has a huge following of people from opposite ends of the human population.

To portray how popular this new craze is, the hashtag #AdultColouringBook comes up with over 250 000 results on Instagram and Twitter, both filled with beautiful pieces done by colourers, old and new. Adult colourers range from the almost hopeless cancer patient to the stressed student.

As kids, most of us grew up with our nose in a colouring book and crayons scattered around us. Who would have thought that, 15 years down the line, we would find our noses in the same place? However, this time it’s not to see whether we can colour in the lines better than anyone else, but rather to utilise a therapeutic tool to express ourselves. It sounds like a mouthful, we know. And perhaps — for those of you who haven’t been introduced to the art of adult colouring — a little mind boggling: how does a person who knows how ‘to adult’ wrap their head around colouring in for relaxation?

At the end of 2015, Amazon.com reported that four of their ten best sellers were adult colouring books. It is a craze for the masses and we love the idea, so we have decided to scoop up some useful information as well as personal insight from adult colourers themselves.

Giselle Lombart*, a 21-year old student currently studying in Johannesburg, South Africa, is an avid lover of adult colouring. She has been suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) since the age of 15 and was prescribed medication to control her outbursts. “Some were subtle and some were severe. Sometimes I’d just sit in my room and suddenly a feeling would come over me and I wouldn’t know what to do. It resulted in me just popping pills twice a day,” Giselle explains.

After being reintroduced to colouring by her younger sister two years after being diagnosed, she became hooked to the activity without noticing the benefits. After a few months, Giselle noticed her anxiety had improved, and her constant urge to take a pill disappeared. At this point, she was spending about half an hour a day perfecting a piece, just for the fun of it.

At her next consultation with her psychiatrist, Giselle was advised to go off her medication and continue with her colouring. For about five years now, she has replaced her medication with colouring books: “It comes naturally to me. I don’t purposely think that I need to colour because I am feeling anxious. I do it anyway, and without noticing, it helps me. I am so absorbed in it that every other stress in the world just disappears — I know it sounds a bit made up!”

Adult colouring could be the ultimate go-to for when we feel like we don’t know how to adult anymore. When adulting fails, colouring books are one of the most effective methods in keeping ourselves calm and collected. If you are interested, why not give it a try? You might find it helps you in ways you would have never realised. But we don’t expect everyone to be convinced just yet: we know that there are some science brains who seek validation from research, so stay tuned for part two where we will be continuing the series by touching on some scientific facts and more.

For those adult colourers, new and old, willing to share their experiences and artwork with us: like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/theRUexpressos. We would love to hear from you.

*names have been changed

Khinali Bagwandeen and Gabi Bellairs-Lombard

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