“The only time I feel alive is when I’m painting,” said famous painter Vincent Van Gogh. His words are an inspiration for aspiring painters and they are, perhaps, even true for those who find refuge in colouring therapy.
Colouring therapy is an age-old practice recommended by psychiatrists to help their patients deal with stress. Though colouring books are usually among top-selling stationery products, doctors and bookstore owners claim that in the last few years, they have become immensely popular among adults.
Many city psychiatrists recommend colouring book therapy to their patients to help them improve their mental health. Dr Parul Tank, Psychiatrist and Therapist, said, “Colouring book therapy helps mind to focus on one thing, and reduces its tendency to wander.”
Tank said these books give adults the liberty to express their feelings, without anyone judging them. While these books help children improve their concentration, they help adults to release any mental stress.
Explaining how colouring therapy works, Dr Heena Merchant, Assistant Professor at Department of Psychiatrists at KEM Hospital (Mumbai), said different colours correspond to different moods and behaviour. These books encourage patients to not be afraid of expressing their feelings freely using colours.
She added, “Colouring is extremely therapeutic. It has the potential to reduce anxiety, improve focus and concentration, and it also gives peace.”
Patients usually are not comfortable expressing these feelings verbally, informed Merchant. So, books like mandala (a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism, representing the universe in a cosmic diagram) or mobile applications help people express their innermost feelings through drawing or colouring.
Dr Harish Shetty, Psychiatrists at LH Hiranandani Hospital, said, “Colour liberates the soul, gives self-awareness, increases self-esteem and sometimes, also helps in dealing with addiction. There are different colour patterns, which reveal moods of people, for example dark colours and light colours have different interpretations.”
Shetty added that though colour book therapy is useful, it cannot be used where one requires proper psychiatrist treatment. It is one of the methods to de-stress, but not the only method. Different methods like dancing, music and talking are also useful to deal with stress.
Such therapies are generally used for children or adults suffering from disabilities, especially dyslexia. It is supplementary therapy and not the only therapy for mental health. Through colours, attention and concentration can be observed, especially among children and adults suffering from disabilities,” said Dr Sagar Mundada, Psychiatrist at KEM Hospital.