Colouring your way to good mental health

Colouring books you might think are for children – not adults.

You would be wrong. There are now colouring books for grown-ups to help with mental health and psychological wellness.

Dr Stanley Rodski, an Australian neuroscientist from The Think Group Neurosciences, has developed anti-stress colouring books for adults, called Colourtation.

The books have been so successful overseas they featured on Oprah Winfrey’s reading wish list in 2017.

Dr Rodski says the human brain has a limited amount of energy and it distributes that energy where it is needed during our waking hours.

When it starts running low on energy, people lose concentration or become forgetful. This is when the brain needs to recharge or power down.

Dr Rodski says for the past 30 years the human brain has rarely powered down, due to us living in this digital age. The brain was not designed for that, he added.

He says we are constantly connected to our phones, ipads, or television and that our brains are continually using their energy, which means we are not getting a clear picture.

The digital world has forced the brain to redistribute its energy more than ever before.

Dr Rodksi has likened the human brain to a glass snow ball. When the snowball is shaken and snow floats around, the scene is murky and difficult to distinguish. It is only when the snow has settled that the scene becomes clear.

The human brain he says, connected as it is to the digital world, is like a shaken snowball and it is difficult to see a clear picture. We need a clear brain to see a clear picture.

He says having a brain constantly like a shaken snowball can lead to a number of psychological issues such as depression, anxiety and insomnia.

On his website Dr Rodski also likens the human brain to the gears of a car.

For example, when we go up a steep hill in a car, the gears of our car sense the pressure on the system and go down to help us up the hill. Our brain works in much the same way whenever it perceives pressure; the brain adjusts to the circumstances (uphill and downhill) we find ourselves in. Once the car gets to the top of hill, it reverts back to its ‘optimal’ gear to move along.

What would happen if our gear did not change back but continued to ‘rev’ as if it were still going up the hill? It would very quickly overheat and breakdown.

For most of us, the effect of this sustained pressure is the ‘feeling of stress, lower wellbeing and sometimes poor sleep’ – the brain is just not changing gears at the right time or for the right amount of time.

So, how do we get our brains to change gear at the right time or clear the snowball?

The answer is simple, yet complex at the same time.

The brain loves patterns. It gets used to patterns such as walking the same way to work each day. The brain gets so accustomed to these patterns that you can sometimes arrive at your destination without remembering your journey. Your brain knows the pattern and directs you accordingly. This is the brain conserving energy.

The brain tries to conserve energy from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep to help keep the autonomic nervous system operating.

We have to find ways where we can keep that energy in our system and remain turned on in high pressure environments.

Dr Rodski has developed six anti-stress adult colouring books, which can assist in clearing the mind or changing its gears.

Dr Stan Rodski’s Colourtation adult’s colouring book

The books are all designed with patterns.

Dr Rodski says using these patterns to create a repetition helps the brain because when it picks up a pattern it becomes quite creative and creativity in important in allowing the brain to become a clear snowball, returning to balance or what is known as homeostasis.

In addition to the patterns the colours used can change your mood and mindset

This is meditation through colouring.

“The end result in not important, it is the journey. The journey is spending five minutes colouring in, being mindful, keeping your attention on what you are doing and using certain colours that can help improve the feeling you are looking for and allow you to move into this state with your eyes open.” Dr Rodski said.

Dr. Stan Rodski’s patterned colouring book

Dr Rodski says colour is a very ancient part of our autonomic system and very important to the way the brain operates. Different colours represent certain feelings.

“When we didn’t have language, I would know you were angry with me by looking at your red face.”

“If for example you wanted to be energised, excited and active you would choose red.”

He said if you were about to sit an exam you would choose yellow, adding that students who use yellow colouring before an exam do very well and have better results, especially if they have to think laterally.

He said research showed that university maths students had improved performances after just five minutes of colouring with yellow.

If you wanted to be relaxed, you would choose blue, he said.

Dr Rodski says by using the books and choosing colours that represent the mood you desire, you can manipulate the brain into changing thought processes, but it takes time and practice.

But he added the brain is a stubborn opponent. 

Put simply, spend five minutes colouring in with the colour of choice.

Disconnect from every device and concentrate solely on colouring in and the colour you have chosen.

Oprah Winfrey’s favourite things

Colouring away the stress. Dr Rodski has on the Oprah Winfrey program, which led to other media appearances, taking his books to a huge American market.

Dr Rodski says his books are used by dentists and surgeons to help patients relax before having surgery. Leading corporates have also embraced the books.

Dr Rodski will address the Future Work Summit in Sydney on October 15.

In his interactive session, he will talk about how the brain adapts to the digital world and achieves peak performance.

He will also talk about Colourtation techniques and conduct a live demonstration with a member of the audience.