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The Adult Colouring In craze has taken the world by storm, to the point that stationery shops and shops alike are running out of various stationery items far quicker than usual. Sounds like fun and a very simple hobby to take up but there is more to this practice than meets the eye. It has some fantastic benefits to your health and mental wellbeing. We think it is a hobby everyone can afford to take up for relaxation. What’s it all about and where do you get started? Sleekgeek Community Members Leigh Ritchie Hirsch and Natasha Le Roux enthusiastically investigated the topic for us. Let’s take a look! 

The history behind it

Adult colouring books are nothing new. In fact, this craze dates back to the 60’s. The purpose for them now as compared to the 60’s, where they were more politically driven, differs considerably to present day.

Going back even further, research shows that it all began on the floors of a monastery in Tibet. Phrases that stood out when reading The Ancient Origins Of Your Obsession With Adult Colouring Books were A thousand years apart and 10 thousand miles away, the monk and the sales manager aren’t really so different …… Both the monk and the colourer are experiencing a mindlessness born from mindfulness on a task ….. these crafts can become visual tools for us to see tranquility, like a talisman of a clear mind ….. Not having any distracting thoughts keeps my mind calm ……”


Carl Jung, the historically famous Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology, prescribed colouring to some of his patients to relieve stress. Colouring can have the same benefits that meditation. Here are some of the benefits:

  1. Colouring reduces stress and anxiety

According to psychologists, colouring affects the amygdala which is the fear or stress center of the brain. The reason being that it is a stress free activity. During the process of colouring it makes you mindful of your surroundings. Due to the fact that colouring reduces stress, it also helps to improve sleep.

  1. Colouring helps you to focus

Colouring in helps you focus better by helping you to forget about the worries. When you colour you also need to focus on the colouring as well as the picture. Colouring mandalas can help with this as the repetitive patterns have the same effect as meditation.

  1. You can be yourself

There is no right or wrong way to colour. There are no rules or boundaries. You can choose colours that you like, different types of stationery, various colour combinations or you can simply go with the flow of your mood within that moment. This reminds one that we have to be authentic to ourselves. No two pictures will look the same in the end.

  1. Helps with fine motor skills

This is something that is very helpful for small children but as adults we don’t use our fine motor skills as much.

  1. Social time

Doing this with friends can replace the book and wine club. You don’t need a lot of focus when colouring so it is easy to still talk with others while colouring.  Pulling out the colouring in books and stationery is also a great way to wind down the kids when they are bored and rowdy. It’s also a great way to bond as a family and simply just be together in the calm silence or chat about things you don’t usually make time for.

  1. Helps creativity

During colouring, a person is aware of colours that work together. This in return can help when putting colours together in either clothing or décor. People experience that colouring also helps them to be more creative in their jobs.

  1. Improves coping skills

As an adult we are regularly faced with life, decisions, stress, loss, anxiety and much more. When you are colouring you can reconnect with your inner child. By doing this, it helps to break negative thought patters and become more confident as well as clear your cluttered mind. Like meditation, colouring allows the brain to switch off other thoughts.

In one interview where a loved one had been lost, this person was directed to colouring in by her therapist my therapist recommended them to help treat my PTSD and take my mind off stuff. I find that whilst I am colouring I think of nothing else. I also use it to calm down when I have my nightmares. I do find it helps to relax and destress. Don’t think I actually use them enough”.

 We also referred our research to Mel who suffers from anxiety and panic disorders. Mel started My Anxiety Companion to help not only herself, but many others too. She wrote a post on her blog specifically about colouring in and has released her own book on Amazon. My Anxiety Companion can be bought through Amazon stores worldwide. Check out her YouTube channel here.

Additional Reading 

CNN: Why adult colouring books are good for you

Mindbodygreen: Science-Backed Reasons To Add Colouring To Your Self-Care Practice


Get inspired 

Below are some examples of what people get up to. Take a look at this post on the Sleekgeek Facebook Group where we asked people to post some images of their finished product to inspire you. 

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 7.58.32 AM

 Getting started 


  1. Where to buy, Making a choice & Pricing

Books and stationery can be found at various stores in your area such as stationery shops, supermarkets, bookstores, Westpack, CAN, PNA and most online retail stores. Bearing in mind that stores vary in the brands they stock. There are also good online recourses available in the form of free printables. We have some links for you in the ‘Resources’ section below.

There are a wide variety of themes available.

Book prices vary between R40 and R600. There are colour therapy kits available that are in the more expensive range. In the end you can start with a very entry-level book and still enjoy the benefits. There are a variety of books available. You can get a pocket-colouring book that is an A5 and fits well into your purse or bag. The other option is an A4 colouring book. When choosing a book, one can find a theme that you are interested in and you will find you enjoy colouring in something that interests you or has a certain effect on you than other themes.

When buying online, some books state that they are 20 pages but in fact they are double sided and consist of 40 images. Check the book descriptions properly because the purchase is worth it if more pictures are available.   Stationery sets vary in price and obviously depend on the brand and how big the set is. Prices start at anything from R65 right up to R2500.


  1. Stationery

Looking into what to use in colouring it was clear that you could basically colour with anything. The adult colouring pictures are in general smaller that children colouring books. This might influence the type of equipment you use. Good advice is to invest in a good set of colouring pencils, felt tip pens or gel pens. With using a gel pen you will get a different look than by using colour pencils. But in the end the choice is yours.

There are of course various types of stationery that can be used – wax crayons, koki pens, pencils, highlighters, pastels, craft paints. One word of advice is spend a little more for better quality. You are going into this to enjoy it. Various active colouring in fans when interviewed by me stated that getting the right stationery made the world of difference and found that going the very cheap route cost them more anyway because they went back and bought the more superior quality brand.

A local colouring in group were very helpful with the information they provided and reported back on the most popular brand choice across the range of pencils, fine liners, oil pastels, pens (gel and fibre tip) and yes! Even glitter! 









  1. Books & Online Resources


Johanna Basford’s “Enchanted Garden” is a best seller and absolutely one of the most popular book choices that came up frequently during interviews and research. Currently available from Takealot.com at R270. She has other books available in different themes which are also very well liked.



Ideally you should browse through options at your nearest stores or see what is available on Loot, Amazon and Takealot. Listed below are useful sites to source books, pricing, free online colouring pages (please always check there are no copyrights attached to the pics). A great place to search for online free pages would be Pinterest.com (search for Free Adult Colouring In Pages and various themes and sites will come up).

 Free online colouring pages: 

www.pinterest.com (search for Free Adult Colouring In Pages)


Online Stores:                        






Tips, Tricks & How To

Johanna Basford – My Top 5 Colouring Tips!

 Johanna Basford Tutorial : How to Colour a Seahorse

Mad Pretty – Adult Colouring Books | Tips and Tricks


Groups/ Events

 Searching on social media you will find a lot of groups available to join locally and internationally. Groups range from different books to themes and creating events. You can look at the local library, local paper or social media to find colouring events. Other places to find events would be craft store or art supply shop. If there is nothing in your area its might be a good thing to start a group. There are online recourses available on how to start a colouring group.


Facebook Groups & Pages:

Adult Colouring South Africa

Adult Colouring Books

Adult Colouring


Save the Date …….. 2nd August is National Colour Book Day!

A day to relax, unwind and be creative. Host your own event with friends and family or simply gift a colouring in book and stationery set to someone in your circle that you feel would benefit from it. Whatever you choose to do, take this day to introduce others to something positive.

What do you think? 

Share your experiences, tips, questions related to Adult Colouring in the comments below thanks! Happy colouring! 



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