Why is adult colouring so popular? Here’s your answer!
This post has been written by the wonderful Sandra English of Mirror Image Coaching Ltd based in Newcastle upon Tyne. After posting about this website in The Inspire Network, Sandra got in touch asking if I knew why adult colouring is so popular and why we find it so relaxing.
I have to be honest and say that before I met with Sandra for a chat and a cuppa I had no idea what it was about colouring that made me feel more relaxed, less stressed and happy! Neither did I really understand the term ‘mindfulness’ and how it relates to colouring.
I hope that you will find this as enlightening as I have!
Colouring yourself calm …….
Why is it that something as simple as colouring has the power to de-stress us ? A piece of paper or a book and an array of coloured pens or pencils has the ability to let us forget the panic, anxiety and stresses of the day, and slow down our breathing to the point that we are relaxed ?? Crazy stuff don’t you think ?
Well I believe that the answer my friends, is two-fold, let me explain;
Firstly it can be said that the act of colouring takes us all right back to our childhood and the hours we would spend drawing and colouring with not much of a care in the world – switched off from the outside world. Now depending on your age, myself, I am in the 53rd year of my life, the values of what was right and wrong, good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable, came from the things that came into my conscious awareness. In my case, family, friends, teachers oh and possibly Andy Pandy, Hugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub (some of you I guess wont even know who these Icons are !). My point is that in the halcyon days before the World Wide Web and the internet superhighways, that we all are plugged into now, life was quite simple and we were not bombarded with information overload as to ‘how’ to be, ‘what’ to be and an endless list of reasons to make us like ourselves or dislike ourselves.
Switch Off and Unplug
So the art and act of colouring allows us to switch off and unplug from the outside world, which in turn is calming and cathartic, with the added bonus of having something to stick up on the refrigerator door along with the kids or grandkid’s doodles !
Colouring for Mindfulness
The second and more scientific explanation relates to the practice of Mindfulness. Now I am sure you all have heard something about Mindfulness Meditation and its benefits, as it’s very much a ‘buzz’ at the moment. Well colouring is a very ‘Mindful’ practice. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a prolific Mindfulness pioneer who brought his teachings, founded in Buddhism, to the Western World, defines Mindfulness as;
‘Paying attention to something, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally’
Which, in reality, is the act of switching off or unplugging from external distractions and just ‘showing up’ in the moment – what we do every time we look at the image, decide what colours we want to use and give our undivided attention to staying within the lines at the same time as letting our thoughts of yesterday, today and tomorrow, float by likes clouds in the sky.
As we all try to juggle our busy lives, continuously plugged in to some device or another, downloading the views and opinions of the world, let alone what is happening in our immediate surroundings, our minds are racing like a superhighway. All too often we become overwhelmed as we are thinking, doing, thinking, doing – all based on past experiences and worries about what hasn’t even happened yet. The result of this is that when these stressors and stresses build up, we subconsciously activate our ‘flight or fight’ response which keeps us in a heightened state of anxiety, panic and stress – emotionally and physically – sending all the internal signals that we are in danger.
Being Mindful takes us from thinking and doing to ‘just being’ – as we focus and give our attention to an object or a task– in this case, the colouring, we gradually allow our thinking to quieten, our breathing to soften which sends the message that we are ‘safe’.
Change Your Perspective
Test this out for yourself, be aware of how you feel in your heightened state of stress, before you pick up your pens or pencils, then observe yourself when you have finished. Do the problems look and feel different ?, do you feel more equipped to deal with them ?, can you now see a solution ? Now my guess is that in reality the issue, the problem, the outside world hasn’t changed just because you’ve sat colouring for 20 minutes, but your perspective has ! You have gone from ‘chaos’ to ‘calm’ in your mind and everything looks and feels different – now surely you must realize that the change has been within you – this is powerful stuff folks – think about it.
I wish you Happy Colouring and at least 20 minutes of Mindfulness every day !