Art Therapy: Colouring The Pain Away


As I have previously discussed in my post Taking Time Out When You’re Super Busy, to get through a busy day I need to take regular rest breaks. One of the activities I like to do while resting is colouring. There is a boom at the moment for adult colouring books and everyone who is anyone is reaching for the colouring pencils and a stress busting colouring book.

Colouring in a beautiful picture really is a therapeutic exercise. It helps me to concentrate on a simple activity, rather than worrying about what I feel I should be doing instead of resting. It gives me an escape from the pain and allows me to focus my thoughts and feelings. Colouring has been proven to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety [Source: Medical Daily] and I can verify this really is a benefit to me.

Colouring is especially useful to me when I am having a particularly foggy day; when my thoughts are hard to pin down and I struggle to get out my words or form sensible sentences. Having to choose a picture from the book, select colours to complete the picture and concentrating on keeping within the lines is incredibly useful for focusing on the present moment and eliminating negative thinking.

Although the latest craze seems to have started over the last year or so, I have actually coloured for much longer than this. For the last 6 years, we have taken children’s colouring books on holiday with us and sat around on a wet evening in the caravan colouring in together. It’s something we all enjoy and is now something I do all of the time and not just on holiday!


Currently, I am colouring Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden which she calls “An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book”. The great thing about this book the inclusion of not just beautiful images, but hidden elements to discover and space to add your own drawings. It’s a stunning book.


Prior to this, I was colouring Emma Farron’s Mindfulness Colouring Book, Anti-Stress Art Therapy for Busy People. This was really lovely and was the perfect size to fit into my handbag so I could colour on the train or while sitting in a cafe.


I prefer to colour in pencil than in felt tip because it makes the process take longer and requires more effort somehow. I recently upgraded my pencils to a Johanna Basford special edition set from Staedtler. They are lovely to colour with, soft but strong and the box is illustrated with images from Johanna’s book Lost Ocean.

Have you tried colouring books? Do you find it helps to relax and focus your mind? What book are you currently colouring?


3 Ways I Manage My Pain


Fighting Fibro Fog


  1. Nicci Fletcher

    I’d been thinking about getting a colouring book for quite a while and finally bought one a couple of weeks ago. I only started on my first design on Sunday and found it very therapeutic: it’s something I really loved when I was in my mid-teens so I knew it was going to be a success when I finally got going. Before I bought the book I asked advice from “experts” about pencils or felt tips: I was told it was a matter of choice. However, I think there is more to it than that. I decided to use my first design for some experimenting to work out which I preferred. My findings are:

    It is faster with the felt tips and there is almost a smoother more even finish: however, the felt-tips I bought mark the page underneath. This is easy to rectify by inserting a couple of pieces of scrap paper to protect the other designs. More importantly though they bleed through onto the design of the reverse of the design I’m working on. Solutions are to only buy books with designs printed on one side of the pages or only colour in half the books.

    Although the finish with the pencils I bought is not quite a good (softer colours rather than more vibrant) at least I can focus solely on the design I am working on and don’t have to worry about the other designs.

    So I think it’s pencils for me from now on. Looking forward to finishing my first design and to reaping the benefits of taking some “time out” too.

    • emma

      Totally agree about the pencils over pens. I do love the finish a pen gives, but as you say it bleeds and ruins other pages. Pencils just seem a bit calmer and more natural. Hope you find lots of joy in colouring again! 🙂

  2. Lottie Moore

    Thanks for this – I love my colouring for relaxing and focussing 🙂

    • emma

      Thanks Lottie. It’s a fantastic way to spend time when you need to calm, relax or regain some focus. 🙂

  3. Arianna

    As a child I used to love colouring. I would get so excited when we would get our summer activity packs and a colouring book and a box of new crayons at Christmas.

    As an adult, I used to colour with my daughter when she was little, but life got in the way and when she started to become more independent, I would try to get jobs done.

    In Feb 2014, our lives changed in an unexpected way when a routine surgery for me went wrong. During my recovery, I started colouring and have now amassed quite a collection of pencils, felt tips, and books. I don’t always have time to colour every day, but when I’m finding life very stressful and very difficult, I get my colouring book out and I just focus on making a beautiful picture.

    I know others who have got into colouring as adults and have found it very beneficial.

    • emma

      It’s quite amazing how something so simple can have so many benefits isn’t it? I love to colour and find it to be one of the most relaxing activities I can do.

      I also used to colour with my daughter, but she isn’t as interested in it as she used to be. They grow up far to fast!!

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