The latest trend that's making people happier, healthier and smarter... will you try it?

Do you remember colouring in when you were younger? It was such a fun activity – you could use bold colours or you could carefully sketch with pencils. It was true expression and you’d proudly show off your work to your friends and family.

But as we got older, we left behind the colouring books. They were considered childish… no grow woman and man could be seen with these type of art books – people would think you’re mad.

Fast forward to 2015 and it’s hard to go past a book shop or newsagent without seeing an array of different colouring books on display. You’ve got mandalas, flowers, Indian designs, patterns – you name it, there’s a colouring book for it.

Aside from colouring being very enjoyable, there are actually quite a few benefits to doing it.

1. Meditation

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In this busy world, it can be hard to just slow down and really relax. Meditation is one the best ways to do this but when can you? Here’s where colouring books come in. Author, speaker and communication expert Mark Robert Waldman told a mental health conference that active meditation focuses attention on simple tasks that require repetitive motion, i.e. colouring in. Concentration is the key of colouring in and by doing this, you can replace negative thoughts. The repetitive action of colouring focuses the brain on the task at hand, blocking out any useless thoughts.

Famous psychologist Carl Jung prescribed colouring to his psychiatry patients. He gave his clients mandalas to colour as part of their therapy and saw great results.

It really is portable relaxation! You can colour just about everywhere.

2. Destress

Stress is at the core of so many health issues, so by eliminating it, you can feel much more relaxed and healthy. Putting time aside to colour is a great destressor as when we colour, we activate different areas of our two cerebral hemispheres, says psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala. “The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills [coordination necessary to make small, precise movements]. The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress”, she said.

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Colouring brings out our imagination and takes us back to our childhood, a time when many of us didn’t have a care in the world. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

3. Improve your motor skills, as well as hand and eye coordination

As we age, our motor skills decline, so it’s important to engage that part of the brain through exercise, and even through colouring. Even holding your pen correctly and staying within the lines can help your motor skills. It also fights cognitive loss, especially if you choose challenging and difficult drawing sheets.

Dr Ayala says “action [of colouring] involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors”. This activates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills”. Studies have shown colouring books, are therapeutic and may delay or prevent the onset of dementia in older people.

4. Patience

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They say patience is a virtue, and it’s true. Re-learn the skill of patience through colouring in as it requires you to be still, to concentrate and to get it right the first time. You may feel like fidgeting but resist the urge to do something else. Challenge yourself to complete a full page of colouring before changing tasks.

5. Self-expression and creativity

After childhood, many can lose their creativity or even their urge or ability to express themselves. If you don’t have an outlet for it, you may be missing out on all the great benefits of art and crafts. Colouring in is the easiest way to be creative even if you can’t draw a stick figure or an art shop causes your palms to sweat. All you need to do is select a colour and colour in! Reconnecting with your inner child can be enormously satisfying. Plus, at the end, you’ll have free art to stick up wherever you like!

Here’s some great colouring books, courtesy of Dymocks:

Enchanted Forest – Johanna Basford

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Millie Marotta’s Tropical Wonderland: a Colouring Book Adventure – Millie Marotta

The Little Book of Calm Colouring: Portable Relaxation – David Senden

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Tell us, do you colour in? What do you like to colour? Show us some pics!