You might think of coloring as a childhood activity involving crayons and an obsessive desire to stay within the lines. But mindfulness colouring actually has similar stress-relieving effects to meditation. Here's what it's all about and why you might want to give it a try.
What is mindfulness colouring?
Ah, mindfulness. You know you need more of it, but when you're busy, it can be hard to motivate yourself to sit down and take 10 to meditate or inhale slooow deep breaths. If that sounds like you, then mindful coloring might be the solution to your mindfulness problems.
So, what is mindfulness colouring? It's the practice of drawing your attention to the present moment by focusing on adding colour to a graphic design. Once you get started, you'll enter a meditative state where you'll have fewer intrusive thoughts about the past and future.
What are the benefits of mindful colouring?
When you mindfully color, you bring your focus to the feeling of a pencil in your hand, the look of color on your paper, and the emotions you experience throughout. To sum it up, you're paying attention to the present moment, which has so many health benefits.
Recent research conducted by the University of the West of England looked into the positive effects of coloring. Volunteers were asked to spend 20 minutes reading or 20 minutes colouring. The study showed that colouring reduced anxiety and improved mindfulness more than reading.
Another study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association researched the anxiety reducing effects of coloring three different kinds of canvases: a mandala, a plaid pattern, or a blank piece of paper. The results suggest that that coloring a “reasonably complex geometric pattern may induce a meditative state that benefits individuals suffering from anxiety." So basically... adult coloring books and printables.
What does mindful coloring do?
If you're still on the fence about partaking in a colouring session, I've got a few more benefits that should convince you to give it a go.
- Reduce anxiety
- Relieve stress
- Improve sleep
- Improve focus
- Improve motor skills
- Relax your brain and improve brain function
Be mindful of making judgements on your art as these negative thoughts can take you out of your mindful state. There is no right or wrong way to colour, it's simply about enjoying the process and expressing yourself.
Is coloring the same as meditation?
At the World Science Festival in Brisbane, a cognitive neuroscientist said that "as little as five minutes of colouring in a day can have the same influence on the brain as an hour of practicing conventional meditation techniques." He even labeled it "colourtation".
When you color, you engage your frontal lobe, which allows you to focus on one thing: adding color to your paper. When you do this, you enter a trance-like state where you can more easily shut out distractions and let your worries go. Ultimately, this is very similar to what you're trying to achieve with meditation.
So, is coloring the same as meditation? Not exactly. But, it offers similar benefits. It can be a great activity for people who want to be more mindful but simply suck at meditating.
Here's what you'll need to get started
If you’re interested in getting yourself into a meditative coloring state, you'll need to pick up a coloring book or download a printable pattern.
Below are my favourite mindful coloring books.
If you have a printer and want to get started now, you can download mandala patterns here or do a quick Google search for FREE printable coloring sheets.
Other informal mindfulness practices
If mindful coloring isn't your thing, don't stress (please!). There are other creative mindfulness practices that have been shown to have positive benefits too. Here are a few.
- Mindful drawing
- Mindful doodling
- Mindful bullet journalling
- Mindful cooking
- Mindful baking
- Mindfully playing an instrument
- Mindful dishwashing (seriously!)
If you want to learn more about nutrition and wellness, check out some of my other articles.
Have you tried meditative coloring? Let me know what you think in the comments below.