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By Kay Hannaford

Keep Calm & Colour In

Some of Australia’s largest companies are providing colouring books to help their staff handle workplace stress, according to an Australian Financial Review article last month. It reports that Melbourne neuropsychologist Stan Rodski says ‘the simple act of colouring can change brain behaviour and help workers achieve calm and balance’. Evidently, colouring moves the brain from beta waves created by busy brain activity to a calmer alpha wave by un-cluttering thoughts and allowing focus on one thing.
Much like mindfulness meditation, but more colourful!

Rather than purchase Dr Rodski’s book Colourtation (http://www.colourtation.com) designed specially for adults, I started with a couple of kids colouring books and a box of coloured pencils from my local newsagent.

I can tell you, I’m in my element!

In my first blog on this site, I wrote about being addicted to computer games. Then I replaced Solitaire with Sudoku and justified it as brain training. Well, maybe. But it’s still highly addictive.

So you can imagine my glee at finding something that I love to do to my heart’s content that is endorsed by a neuropsychologist. I’ve enjoyed drawing and colouring-in since early childhood when my brother Alfie and I regularly practiced and won colouring competitions in the Sunday Mail Possums pages.

Quite co-incidentally, Alfie (now an artist), his wife Alison (also an artist), my mother and I lunched at the Art Gallery SA cafe last month and spent the entire time drawing and colouring in (with the pencils provided) on the stencilled paper table-cloth. We all delighted in recalling and recreating the things we drew as children and enjoyed our own and each other’s renderings enormously.

Now that I’ve practiced colouring fairies and mushrooms in the kids’ colouring books, I’ve moved on to mining the colouring section of Dymocks book store and spent a fortune feeding my new habit. Among the treasures I’ve found there are ‘Secret Garden’, the best-selling book in the US according to Amazon, its sequel ‘Enchanted Forest’ both by Johanna Bamford and a wealth of other enticing offerings in all shapes and sizes for both kids and adults.

My current favourite is ‘The Mindfulness Colouring Book’ subtitled ‘Anti-stress art therapy for busy people’, by Emma Farrarons. This one ticks all my boxes because a) I’m a paid-up member of the mindfulness movement, b) I’m an art-therapist, c) I’m often quite a busy person c) I do from time to time get stressed and d) it’s compact enough to fit into my bag, along with a tin of colouring pencils which snaps shut for easy transportation.

So don’t be surprised if you see me colouring in on a train or plane, in a cafe, a garden or between meetings.

It’s both the act of focusing on softly and repetitively making your mark in small shapes and spaces and the joy of watching colourful, beautiful images come to life at the same time that is so pleasurable.

I can highly recommend colouring in for calming down, reflecting, staying sane, expressing creativity  – and having fun!

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This post originally appeared on kayhannaford.com

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