The adult colouring trend to reduce stress: Does it work?

Recently Staedtler, who incidentally are celebraring 50 years in the UK, invited me to a Creative Christmas Colouring evening with Johanna Basford OBE to celebrate the launch of her new book, Johanna's Christmas. It was also the perfect opportunity to find out for real, if colouring really can help reduce stress.
 Image credit: Staedtler

Image credit: Staedtler

And typically, but completely unplanned, I really did put that to the test. The event was at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden, a really cool venue I'd been to before, so after work I jumped on the DLR and headed towards Bank. Where we sat for longer than I'd have liked. Then as usual, there were the queues to leave the platforms and move around the station. Eventually I made it onto a Central Line train and as time was getting on decided to change at Holborn and take the Piccadilly line straight to Covent Garden for a shorter walk.

Sensible plan on paper. But when I got to the Piccadilly line platform, I heard the announcement of doom "severe delays are operating on the Piccadilly line" - whoop! But I was there and hoped I'd be able to squeeze on the next train.

And luckily I could, but even so I arrived at the venue later than I'd wanted to be and more stressed than I needed to be too. This was going to be a good test for the colouring.  I soon found a place, was given a copy of Johanna's new book and decided which design I was going to colour - you'll not be surprised to see it was a tree.

A glass of red wine also found its way to me and as I started to colour, and talk to my fellow colour-ers either side of me, I started to relax. And enjoy myself.  But just look at the concentration on my face, and you'll see the focus isn't the wine...

 Image credit: Staedtler

Image credit: Staedtler

And despite it being an industrious evening, with each of us intent on our creations, it was a friendly and fun evening. There was plenty of chat, and I think the ladies either side of me had had a much more relaxing journey, as their colouring was much more refined than mine. I'd opted for pens with a fibre tip to flood colour into my design, and my colours were bold and somehow, without too much planning, I ended up with a rainbow effect.

 Image credit: Staedtler

Image credit: Staedtler

The swirls and curls and flowing design made this the perfect design for me, and following the curves completely distracted me from the journey there. I think I needed to see results quickly, and the pens and this design helped with that. And yes, you may have spotted that my wine glass is empty, but I was so into what I was doing that I didn't get up to fill it up, nor did I check out the food. I did manage to tear myself away though to try the gorgeous canapes that the waiting staff brought round.

Johanna shared a couple of tips, which were helpful, they were:

  • To remove the design from the book when you start to colour, that way you can easily move the paper around so that it's comfortable to colour, and you'll be confident that your pens or watercolours won't affect the rest of the book.
  • It doesn't matter if you go over the lines - yay! I think staying in the lines is completely overrated, so I was pleased to hear this. And it's true, only you know if you've gone over the lines, so who's to know? And if anyone notices, just call it artistic flair!

It was lovely to meet Johanna, who has sold a staggering twenty million plus colouring books worldwide, in over forty countries, and discover that she's still as passionate about creating new designs. In fact she said she had so many ideas for her books, that the problem is always which ones should be left out rather than which should go in. 

 JOHANNA BASFORD DEMONSTRATING HER FRONT COVER LETTERING

JOHANNA BASFORD DEMONSTRATING HER FRONT COVER LETTERING

Johanna talked us through how she creates the detailed lettering on the front of her books, and I tried a Christmas card using the same approach. That's to draw your design - in my case Joy - lightly in pencil, and then to add Christmassy motifs and designs, such as holly, Christmas trees, presents, candy canes and so over following the pencil line. Then when you're happy with that to go over the pencil shapes with a fine line pen. 

It was fascinating to watch her in action, and fun to try out, but I had a tree to finish colouring in and I was determined to complete as much as I could that evening. So in answer to my question at the top of this post - can colouring reduce stress, well it's a resounding yes from me.

It's something I'll be remembering to do more often too, so if you see me and I'm stressed, remind me. If you're still not convinced that it's a stress-buster, why not give it a go yourself? Staedtler have some tips for getting started with adult colouring with tips for the basic and advanced techniques, as well as a colouring sheet to download. And there's still time to add a colouring book and some pens or pencils to your Christmas list, trust me you won't regret it!

Thanks Staedtler and Johanna for a lovely and inspiring evening. Thanks too to my colouring companions for the conversation throughout the evening and their kind words about my less than delicate colour combinations!

PoCoLo

* This is a collaborative post with Staedtler, but all views and opinions - and colour combinations in my design - are my own.