How colouring books for grown ups can aid your mental wellbeing

Tania Yager

Tania Yager - Credit: Archant

It’s a form of relaxation that is becoming more and more popular and one of its main exponents is a woman from Bolton. She spoke to Roger Borrell.

Tania Yager

Tania Yager - Credit: Archant

MEN, have you ever thought of doing a little light colouring after a hard day at the office? No, probably not. Well, there’s a lady in Bolton who thinks you should give it a go.

Tania Yager, who publishes under the pen name Mia Harper, is one of the UK’s most successful and prolific authors of colouring books for grown ups.

The colouring book phenomenon is all part of the mindfulness movement which, according to its believers, is ‘the art of paying more attention to the present moment to aid your mental wellbeing’.

As you would expect, America leads the way in this form of relaxation but Bolton-born graphic artist Tania has become well known in the business thanks to a nine-strong collection of colouring books aimed especially at women.

Tania Yager

Tania Yager - Credit: Archant

‘These were very popular with lots of positive feedback, but I realised from what people were saying that there was a gap in the market for colouring books for men,’ she said.

‘They are aimed at allowing everyone to unwind and improve their mental health and this applies to men just as much as women.’

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Her original range hit the Amazon best-sellers within a few days of going on sale and remained there for several months, particularly popular as gifts. Now, Mia is launching a men’s range in the UK and USA with titles such as ‘For My Dad’ and ‘For My Son’ featuring 30 pages of abstract, geometric and floral patterns.

‘Stress is an international problem and needs addressing,’ said Tania, who went to school in Bolton before going on to art college. ‘Colouring is a lovely, relaxing way to spend time. It alleviates negative feelings, depression and anxiety.’

Tania Yager

Tania Yager - Credit: Archant

Tania, now 65, had an international career based in London as a trainer with some of the biggest names in computers. Part of her work involved desktop publishing and this has been a significant help since moving back to Bolton in creating her print-on-demand publishing business.

Being computer savvy means she is also getting known through social media with authors in the USA Tweeting about her colouring books.

Graphic design has always been one of her strengths in the development of striking, intricate patterns by computer. ‘The signs are I can make a living out of it,’ she said. ‘It’s certainly not a get rich quick scheme but as word spreads they will become more and more popular.

‘A lot of people are using the books as a form of therapy. Mental health organisations have said they could help their clients because colouring in is very calming. It helps people unwind, become de-stressed. People are uplifted by it and say it helps them through the day.’

Some rough and ready market research at her local WH Smith, talking to men about colouring books, resulted in a positive response for these latest books, which do have a slightly more masculine style. For instance, they are more likely to contain patterns with shields rather than hearts.

‘It’s quite a new concept for many men to grasp, but once they try it, I’m sure they will be hooked and they will definitely feel better.’

Meanwhile the popularity of colouring is shows no sign of abating with groups setting up, like book clubs, to discuss colouring techniques and materials. Some are even staging colouring-in contests – not so competitive they become stressed, we hope.

You can follow Mia on twitter at @MiaHarper007

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