In this issue we review Pooky Knightsmith's 2017 publication, 'The Healthy Coping Colouring Book and Journal', illustrated by Emily Hamilton.
‘The Healthy Coping Colouring Book and Journal’ by Pooky Knightsmith is a busy, vibrant, joyful book, bursting with creative potential. Illustrated by Emily Hamilton, this book is far more than a simple colouring book for people who want to stay within the lines. The activities within encourage the reader to become the author – to be brave and bold in making this journal their own. Packed full of drawings, activities, inspirational quotes and advice, this journal provides practical methods of coping with stress, anxiety, anger, and other difficult feelings.
With the concepts of Mindfulness and relaxation coming to the fore in recent years, we all know how important it is to ground ourselves in the moment, and to be mindful of stressors in our lives and how to manage them. Stress within the home, at school or in care settings can increase incidents of aggression, therefore methods of reducing stress, such as Mindfulness, are incredibly useful for both individuals and their parents or supporters (Singh et al, 2007).
These simple but fun and effective activities are targeted towards making sense of confusing or overwhelming feelings. The illustrations throughout provide plenty of creative opportunities to engage one’s imagination by creating your own masterpiece. Activities like colouring in can induce a ‘flow’ state, such that a person can become so absorbed in an activity that they block out the world around them. Research into ‘flow’ states has shown that they can reduce stress, particularly in individuals with ASDs, and generally improve well-being (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990; McDonnell and Milton, 2014). Find out more about flow from autism expert Dr. Damian Milton here.
‘Whether you are stressed out at home or school, feeling anxious or simply in need of some relaxation, this workbook provides a place for you to express your emotions.’
This book is the perfect tool for anyone who struggles to identify and manage difficult emotions, providing a safe space to explore those emotions and consider helpful strategies for coping with them. The inspirational quotes and fun activities within are all geared towards encouraging positive reflection and productive thinking, asking the reader ‘what’ they are feeling but also ‘why’? Research has shown that some individuals struggle to identify their emotional states, and as a result have difficulty regulating their levels of arousal (Stichter, 2010). This difficulty to pin down big feelings such as anger and stress, coupled with feelings of helplessness in regards to coping with them, can be extremely distressing. Many of the people we support, from children with developmental differences to adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), struggle to manage their own stress, and, as a result, can become hyper-aroused easily. This failure to recognise, name and manage feelings of distress or discomfort can be extremely confusing. This is where tools such as ‘The Healthy Coping Colouring Book and Journal’ become integral towards supporting individuals to recognise their emotional and arousal state, and thereby gain more control over it.
This light-hearted and fun book encourages positive thinking and optimism, with inspirational quotes throughout reminding us that ‘Every success starts with a decision to try’, and that ‘Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are endless’. In addition, it is packed full of healthy coping mechanisms for when feelings become overwhelming, such as encouraging the reader to make lists of their favourite songs and books to listen to or read when they need to escape, calm down, or simply take time to enjoy the things they love. Alongside blank spaces that spark creativity, there are also practical suggestions for promoting mental, emotional and physical well-being, such as the importance of sleep, how to incorporate more activities into your life, how to ask for help and the importance of eating well. For people who are not struggling themselves but wish to become more mindful of how they can support others, there is plenty of advice for helping others, for example how to be a good listener and what to do if you’re worried about a friend.
Overall, this is a fantastic book that would be helpful for any child or adult who is struggling with difficult feelings, and we highly recommend it as an essential tool for encouraging self-reflection and emotional regulation.
Reviewed by Rachel McDermott,
Studio 3 Digital Content Editor
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990) Flow: The Classic Work on How to Achieve Happiness. London: Rider.
McDonnell, A. & Milton, D.E. (2014) Going with the Flow: Reconsidering 'Repetitive Behavior' Through the Concept of 'Flow States'. In: Jones, Glenys and Hurley, Elizabeth, eds. Good Autism Practice: Autism, Happiness and Well-being. BILD: Birmingham: 38-47.
Singh, N.N., Lancioni, G.E., Winton, A.S., Singh, J., Curtis, W.J., Wahler, R.G. & McAleavey, K.M. (2007) Mindful Parenting Decreases Aggression and Increases Social Behaviour in Children with Developmental Disabilities. Behaviour Modification, 31(6): 749-771.
Stichter, J.P., Herzog, M.J., Visovsky, K., Schmidt, C., Randolph, J., Schultz, T. & Gage, N. (2010) Social Competence Intervention for Youth with Asperger Syndrome and High-functioning Autism: An Initial Investigation. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40(9): 1067-1079.