Adult colouring books: a relaxing way to manage withdrawal symptoms

Colouring in books for adults are all the rage at the moment and lots of fun, but could they help you tackle serious issues like cannabis withdrawal?

adult colouring books

What are adult colouring books?

You’ve probably heard of a pretty popular craze at the moment: adult colouring books. They’re everywhere. They originally started just a couple of years ago as a niche item created by one or two illustrators and now there are multitudes of different kinds out there and they’re dominating the book bestseller lists.

Yet you may be wondering why they’re so popular – even dismissing them as misplaced children’s entertainment for really bored adults? But did you know there’s actually many great wellbeing benefits of colouring in? They are a great tool for tapping into mindfulness (a topic we’ve covered in another blog, which helps you cope with stress and anxiety). All types of people now enjoy the wellbeing benefits of adult colouring books, from university students to high-performance corporate executives. It’s a kind of antidote for the always ‘on’, busy digital information age we’re all constantly exposed to now.

What are the benefits of colouring in?

Many people find that colouring books really help to soothe feelings of anxiety, stress or tension and can be a very relaxing process. They are a great low-effort creative activity and require you to put a little thought and attention into them, but not too much, so work well if you’re feeling tired or overwhelmed. They’re also easy to dip in and out of – you can do it for five minutes or five hours, whatever works for you.

Many of the drawings in these books are quite intricate and allow you to really express your creativity in your choice of colour patterns and combinations you use. You also get a fantastic sense of accomplishment when you’ve completed an image.

They’re also a relatively cheap (and reasonably portable) form of entertainment. Buying an adult colouring book and a few textas or coloured pencils will probably set you back only about $30, yet will provide you with hours and hours of relaxation.

How can adult colouring books help you cope with cannabis withdrawal?

There are a variety of common cannabis withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, irritability, cravings and tension, for which adult colouring books might provide some distraction or relief. At NCPIC, we advocate for the 5Ds when you’re dealing with withdrawal symptoms:  Distract, delay, de-catastrophise, de-stress and drink water. Colouring could be really helpful in either distracting yourself from your cravings or withdrawal symptoms, allowing you to ride them out without giving in, and could also be part of the delaying process if you have the urge to smoke.

Colouring also gives you something to do with your hands instead of smoking. Sometimes when people give up smoking cannabis or tobacco they feel at a loss when it comes to what to do with their hands in place of holding a cigarette or joint. Using your hands to colour also stops you from doing other things with your hands when you’re coping with withdrawal symptoms, like snacking on lots of junk food, which could give you a different set of problems further down the track.

Origami and knitting are other great activities that use your hands and your creativity, but these take time to develop the skills needed to do them. Adult colouring books take virtually no time to learn (we probably all remember doing them as kids), and your ‘skill’ level in colouring is really irrelevant to the level of benefits you might receive from the activity.

If you’re looking for other ways to cope with cannabis withdrawal symptoms and cravings, check out our Quit Centre or our Get Help page.

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