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Achieving Mindfulness with Colouring Books

Published 2:08 pm UTC February 26, 2020


Colouring books for adults have become more and more popular - could it be because we are practising mindfulness as we colour?

Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present. It’s the skill of being able to tune out distracting thoughts and events buzzing around us. The goal of mindfulness is to stimulate our mental, physical and social states. By deep cleaning our brain space, we reduce stress and anxiety and feel more energised when facing life’s obstacles.

There are many methods of practising mindfulness from yoga to meditation, however, a more recent trend has demonstrated the development of mindfulness: Colouring books.

Amazon has had adult colouring books listed as it’s top sellers and there are few arts and craft stores these days without colouring books for sale.

The popularity of colouring books or mandalas have skyrocketed- could this be due to people unwittingly putting mindfulness into practice as they colour? These newly established artistes may not realise they are practising mindfulness but are certainly enjoying the benefits researchers are trying to measure with mindfulness when it comes to battling anxiety.

A study done with university students showed a reduction in anxiety when given mandala colouring books for 30 minutes. This reduced both state (contextual) anxiety as well as trait anxiety (characteristic). Similar studies have been implemented where mandalas have shown to increase focus, reinforce the attention back to the present moment and overall lower stress. Yet, there are additional benefits from colouring: a sense of creativity, self-efficacy and positive perceptions of effort.

There are perhaps other elements we are overlooking that are adding to the sense of enjoyment we receive from colouring: childhood nostalgia, choice in creative outlet (the books range in design from ornate geometry to Star Wars), the ability to express ourselves and keep a portfolio-like record of our thoughts and feelings similar to a diary.

Art therapy has been around for some time now, so it will be interesting to see what further correlations link mindfulness and creativity. Especially seeing as the arts are not limited to drawing but can include music and drama as well (see our blog on Music & Mindfulness). Art therapy can also be applied to any age group, for instance, children with a physical illness, non-verbally communicate, or have experienced trauma can express their feelings through art.

It is important to note that colouring books are therapeutic, but they are no substitute for therapy. Colouring books can improve mood, enhance mindfulness and reduce stress, but for severe issues concerning wellbeing, individuals will want to contact their GP for specific treatment.