At the tail end of a year that delivered the world blow after shocking blow, researchers in New Zealand have confirmed what millions of people around the globe have already discovered in the past few years. Adult Colouring provides more than a creative outlet: it can also provide relief to people coping with anxiety and depression.

A new study shows mental health benefits of adult colouring.

The study was undertaken by psychology researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand and published this week in the Creativity Research Journal. The group of six researchers wanted to see if the hype around the benefits of adult colouring would hold up under scientific scrutiny.

The research subjects were all women, aged 18 to 36. Some were assigned a week of colouring and others undertook mind games like sudoku.

Before beginning the study, the women completed an inventory of psychological measures of symptoms of stress and anxiety, among other conditions. They repeated the inventory at the end of the experiment.

The women who coloured for a week reported reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. Joint author, Dr Tamlin Connor said: “our findings bode well for the potential psychological benefits of colouring-in.” She also believes that as an inexpensive, low-risk and accessible activity, she and her colleagues are recommending colouring as a creative activity for “improving mental health outcomes.”

People are looking for ways to manage stress and anxiety in these troubled times.

In these stressful times, people are seeking ways to distract themselves and soothe their troubled minds.

Fidget spinners and stress balls have soared in popularity recently. The adult colouring craze began around 2013 and by 2015 around 12 million adult colouring books were sold worldwide. Spinoff activities include colouring clubs and meet-up groups, websites and blogs, and a range of online video lessons in colouring techniques.

One of the early bestsellers in the adult colouring genre was Johanna Basford’s 2013 book called Secret Garden: an Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book. The success of this colouring book spawned a wildly-popular series by Basford whose followers have developed intricate colouring techniques that are widely shared and followed on YouTube and Instagram.

Dr Nikki Martinez is an American psychologist who claims that many psychologists “prescribe” colouring to their patients and the practice goes back as far as early in the 20th century and Carl Jung, who founded analytical psychology. She said that “the ideas behind them have stood the test of time, even if they feel like they are only the latest fad.”

Claire Edie blogs about adult colouring at Colour With Claire. The UK mother of two describes herself as having suffered from anxiety order for ten years. In 2013 she discovered colouring when she found that her child’s colouring book helped her focus and recover during a full-blown panic attack. Since then she has been blogging about her passion for colouring and encouraging others to take up the hobby. She is clear that colouring may not work for everyone and that it will not cure panic, anxiety or depression. She sees colouring as “a tool in her anxiety arsenal."