A few years ago, I went to visit my friend, June. I wanted to bring her a gift, but rejected the obvious – wine, flowers, chocolates – in favour of a colouring book. She was delighted.
About a year later, ‘mindful’ colouring books, and ‘adult’ colouring books became a ‘thing’.
I liked the idea of grabbing myself a colouring book or two and calming myself with a bit of colouring. The first one I bought was full of mosaics. It drove me mad. There were so many little bits of it. It was abandoned. I got another. Its pages were filled with intricate pictures awaiting colour. I couldn’t give them what they were waiting for. They remained monochrome.
The pages of the ‘mindful’ and ‘adult’ colouring books that I bought, or considered buying, filled me with anxiety. I could feel it rising. The sections were too small. They didn’t scream ‘fun’, they screamed ‘task’. I have enough tasks I was looking for something to enjoy – in a similar way to how I enjoy knitting. It is repetitive, meditative, and soothing. These colouring books were not stirring the same emotions.
Then I remembered Kalkitos, and how much I’d enjoyed that, as a child. I also loved stickers, and using them to make pictures with. I couldn’t find any Kalkitos, but I did find a sticker book for adults. It was filled with tiny flower-stickers, and other tiny stickers. I was tempted, but couldn’t part with £12.99 to buy a book that didn’t fill me with excitement.
Then, I had a brainwave. Why was I so hung up on adult versions? Hadn’t I enjoyed colouring books as a child? So, why was I looking at adult colouring books?
I came home with this:
Which had the added bonus of these:
I was delighted. This little book, and the stickers in it, filled me with joy, and anticipation, and excitement.
Colouring might well be a good tool for improving your mental health. Like any other tool, however, you need to make sure you have the right one. Don’t feel you need a ‘grown-up’ version of something that used to bring you joy when you were a child. Think of comfort food; if a toasted cheese sandwich was what made you feel safe and loved when you were little, then avocado toast with a sprinkling of pink Himalayan salt and a light dusting of cracked black pepper isn’t going to revive that feeling. Go with what it feels right to use, rather than what you think you should be using.