She said sometimes, when really on edge, “if I haven’t had enough work or enough the week before, or there’s a big bill coming up, my husband will actually say, just go and do some colouring, and he’ll watch the telly. We’re like toddlers who parallel play”.
There is a crossover with mindfulness and also with mantras: activities in which the brain is engaged just enough to stop it whirring, but not so much that the concentration is draining.
Asma Zergui, an independent colouring book artist and obstetrician based in Algeria, said: “I’ve just finished my residency in obstetrics and gynaecology and, like all doctors, I was anxious and stressed all the time. I can tell you that the moment I started drawing and colouring, everything seemed different in my life. It definitely helped me get through a severe depression.”
Lucy Fyles, 24, has a blog on which she reviews colouring-in books from a mental health perspective. She said: “I have a very active mind, made worse by anxiety. It just seems to quieten it down and slow it down. I’ll go to a colouring book, I’ll be incredibly stressed, I cannot stop the thoughts swirling around in my head. And half an hour later, I’ll notice that I’m calmer. My mind’s calmed down.”