Forget colouring books. Play dough is our new favourite calming tool.

Thought play dough was just for pre-schoolers? Think again.

Like just over one million Australians, Emma Clohesy suffers from anxiety. Needing a solution that was both effective and kid-friendly, the mother of three found the answer in her children’s play cupboard.

“I realised that when I am busy making or creating, I find my calm, and I can catch my breath. So play dough was an easy choice,” she says.

“It fulfilled my need to make and create with my hands and to ‘reset’ — that my kids could join in on — creating an awesome all-inclusive activity that we all benefited from,” she says.

Realising she’d stumbled on something genuinely helpful, Clohesy started up Happy Hands Happy Heart, selling all natural, Aussie-made playdough in calming colours and scents like vanilla, lavender and peppermint.

WATCH: Is play dough really the path to mindfulness? We gave it a try. (Post continues after video.)

“I find if I allocate even just 10 minutes (the longer the better, though) in my day, to sit and play, I am much less likely to get to the point of feeling overwhelmed,” she says.


“My anxiety is so much more manageable as I am able to reset, and refresh. And it works for my kids, too.”

Mamamia’s Creative Director Mia Freedman is a fan of the brand, and now religiously brings play dough to work.

“I am such a fidgeter. I find it hard to concentrate for long periods of time and my default is picking at my nails or my cuticles. I need something to touch and play with if I have to sit still. Meetings are the worst for me. Play dough really helps,” Mia says. (Post continues after gallery.)

“I first discovered that when I was in a strategy session and the facilitator handed out tubs of Play-Doh to everyone. It really helped! Now I buy my own and I have it in my office and I bring it to meetings and when I’m recording my podcasts too. My podcast guests love it.”

With such positive feedback, we couldn’t not put the calming powers of play dough to the test. So we sat four Mamamia staffers down with lots of tubs of the stuff and told them to do whatever they wanted (see video at top of page).

Mia's playdough post-meetings. Image: Instagram (@miafreedman)


Judging by the ahem, creative results (yes, someone did make a penis) and how quickly the tubs of play dough have since disappeared from the office, we're proclaiming this trend a resounding success.

Pack away your pens and pencils: there's a new way to unleash your inner child creativity.

Have you tried playdough for mindfulness?