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Colouring books are a great way to focus and relax, and a great therapy in many anxiety inducing situations, a good alternative to meditation.
When I was suggested colouring-in as a way to relieve anxiety, I brushed it off as something that was meant for a child; an activity that could excite only a child. I was a bit reluctant to try it out until recently I read that colouring is an activity not just restricted to children. Adult colouring books have become an international trend. They are popular because it is a great form of therapy, and not a fad as one might imagine.
While on an overseas visit, it was interesting to hear from my sister how people enjoyed this colour ‘therapy’ in their free time, colouring away while on train journeys to work, outdoors in parks, and even in the coffee shops. It made me pick up the colouring books belonging to my niece, which had been lying around for a while.
As I flipped through the pages and saw outlines of lovely flowers waiting to be coloured in, I couldn’t wait. With a set of crayons, I got started. I enjoyed it so much, and after finishing just a couple of pages of beautiful gerberas and petunias, I am very hooked to this hobby!
I found colouring-in not just fun and enjoyable but discovered that it has numerous great benefits too. Here they are!
Colouring is such a fun and inexpensive easy way to relax. It’s also great to reduce anxiety or stress levels.
Instead of using breaks to stare at phone screens or check messages, imagine giving yourself a refreshing ‘colour’ break- when you feel overwhelmed with thoughts or meeting deadlines at work and looking for mental clarity, a break from studies, routine housework like cooking or cleaning, to relieve or release tension or worries, looking for an escape from daily pressures or plain boredom. It also a great way to unwind at the end of the day or when you feel the need to get away from it. I like colouring at night, just before bedtime.
Your ‘colouring space’ can be at your desk, in front of the TV, your dining room table or a comfy sofa. Turn on some soft music if you like. If you enjoy outdoors – your sit-out or verandah will do. If you have a garden, nothing like it. Being surrounded with nature while colouring is doubling soothing.
Colouring is a peaceful and purposeful activity for anyone suffering from common mental health problems like depression, anxiety and stress disorders and obsessive compulsive disorders because it has such a calming and healing effect. It also prevents the onset of dementia, helps those suffering from Alzheimers disease as it helps ease agitation and even epilepsy by engrossing the person and relaxing the amygdala which is the fear center in the brain.
Psychiatrists and therapists have long been prescribing colouring books to cancer patients to help them to cope better and deal with the physical and emotional distress during treatment.
Colouring-in requires you to colour within the outlines of the images. It trains your mind to put everything else aside- both the past and the future, and helps you live in the moment. It lets you turn off your thoughts for a little while. These little breaks help break any negative thinking patterns. It also gets you away from it all by taking you to a time and place faraway.
Colouring sparks creativity by getting your creative juices flowing. By picking a colour for a particular shape or a pattern, we activate the analytical part of the brain, and when we choose to mix and match colours we activate a creative side of the brain. Some workplaces have colouring sessions for employees as a way to improve focus and creativity before big projects.
Do you remember the colouring books you had when you were a child, and the pure joy of it? There was no right or wrong way to colour. You could colour however you wanted- horizontal, vertical, diagonal or circular. Colouring lets you do just that. It gets you back in time, relive and enjoy those simpler and happier times again.
Your colouring books are yours. Colouring is your form of self expression. It lets you be, by letting you do something without feeling pressured to share your creation with anyone. For example, if you accidentally colour outside of a line or choose the wrong shade of colour no one but you is going to know unless you want to.
You can colour whenever you like without setting a deadline. Even if you find time to colour for a few minutes, you can put it away and come back to it another time.
Meditation is an art which requires you to concentrate actively and produce mindfulness, calmness and wellness. But, if you are someone who finds it hard to turn off the mind, you can choose colouring instead, as it keeps you engaged without requiring active concentration. Colouring is the best alternative but it is not a substitute for meditation.
To colour, you don’t need to be an artist. All you need is something to colour in and something to colour with. Adult colouring books are the recent rage and the most popular right now. They can be bought as colouring books, or if you check online, so many free downloadables/printables are easily available.
To colour-in, you can choose felt pens, colouring pencils, markers, crayons, roll gel pens or whatever you are comfortable with. One of my personal favourite is good old wax crayons as I like the way they slide and glide. However, colouring pencils are great for the outlining and detailing.
I have found this activity to be so liberating and relaxing. What about you?
Image source: youtube