Formal mindfulness practice has incredible benefits, allowing you to slow down and create some quiet space to check in with your mental health. However, this can be easier said than done. A great way to keep up your practice, is to integrate some informal mindfulness activities.
With informal mindfulness practice, you bring the same kind of improved attention that you might get from formal practice, to everyday situations. This involves directing your full and non-judgemental attention to the activity you’re undertaking at a particular moment – such as colouring!
What is mindful colouring?
Mindful colouring is about bringing our awareness into the present moment by consciously focusing on colour and design. Instead of the formal practice of focussing on the breath, you bring your focus to the weight of the pencil in your hand, the shade of colours on your paper, and the feelings you experience throughout.
We simply pay attention with curiosity, openness and acceptance, to what is happening in the present moment: the coloured pencil in our hand, and the paper sitting in front of us. This process is similar to meditation, we let go of any thoughts about the past or the future - we bring our focus and awareness toward the present activity.
A recent study conducted by the University of the West of England looked into the benefits of colouring on the mind. The volunteers were asked to either spend 20 minutes reading, or 20 minutes colouring in, and then answer questions to indicate their mood and mindfulness. The research showed that, compared to reading, colouring reduced higher levels of anxiety, and greater improved mindfulness!
Mindful colouring has been shown to:
- Reduce anxiety and stress
- Improve sleep
- Improve focus
- Improve vision and motor skills
Unfortunately, setting aside time to colour a picture isn’t enough to reap the benefits, it’s important that you consciously practice mindfulness throughout the activity. This means allowing your thoughts, judgements, opinions and preferences to exist exactly as they are, simply observing them with compassion, awareness and non-judgement… and then bringing your awareness back to your colouring. The shades…. the tones… the weight of the pencil in your hand...
To help get you started, we suggest writing down the following mindful colouring prompts, and keeping them close by to refer back to when you feel your mind straying from the present.
- “In this moment, I am colouring in.”
- “It does not need to be perfect, it is my self-expression.”
- “I am choosing [colour] to use on all the [shape]s in the picture.”
- “I am stepping away from technology, and feeling the sensations of this tactile activity.”
- “I notice that the [colour] shades make me feel [emotion].”
Be mindful of judgements on yourself and your piece of art. Your colour choices and finished product should never be viewed as ‘bad’. There is no right or wrong way to mindfully colour, it is about self expression.