Mindfulness is something we talk about a lot here at Morale, and with good reason! The way we think and what we’re thinking about has the potential to affect how we feel and behave, and this can influence the state of our mental health. Wasting your precious energy worrying about something that has been and gone, or not even happened yet, can be draining and can have a negative impact on your mindset. Unnecessary stress and anxiety can start to build up and take over, and your mental health will start to feel the strain.
Mindfulness is a great tool that focuses on the present moment, encouraging you to be aware of your space and presence as well as your thoughts and emotions. The Mayo Clinic defines mindfulness as ‘paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment without judgement’. It’s acknowledging what you’re thinking and feeling, even if it’s negative, and then letting it go and focusing on that moment instead. In doing so, you are creating space to be compassionate with yourself, as well as becoming more focused and reducing your stress response.
Mindfulness is a technique that can be applied to most activities, and having certain activities tied to practicing mindfulness can help us form healthy habits and make it easier to incorporate it into our daily routine.
How does colouring help the mind
If you’re of the persuasion that colouring is a fun activity for children, then this is our cue to change your mind…
Research shows that colouring activates an area of the brain that is linked to focus and concentration. Rather than your mind wandering off and your body going into autopilot, colouring requires you to focus on what you’re doing, otherwise, you’ll draw over the lines. Because of this, colouring is a great activity to soothe the mind and focus on something else for a while instead of letting your mind race on. In fact, studies have shown that amongst two groups of people asked to either read for 20 minutes or colour for 20 minutes, those that spent time colouring reported feeling more relaxed, less stressed, and more focused.
However, don’t confuse mindfulness with distraction. It’s not about pushing your problems to the back of your mind for a while and then letting them come flooding back when you put down your pencil. What mindfulness helps us do is fortify certain areas of our brain and allow us to be comfortable with our emotions, without letting them get in the way of other activities.
When you combine colouring with traditional mindfulness techniques, focusing on what you’re doing and feeling in that moment becomes a whole lot easier, and you’re actively engaging your brain with the task. Colouring is something you can easily incorporate into your daily routine, and after a while, you won’t even realise that you’re practicing mindfulness anymore.
How to colour mindfully
One of the many good things about mindfulness colouring is how easy it is to do! It can be done anytime, anywhere. As soon as you feel worry creeping in, or you catch yourself dwelling on negative emotions it’s probably time to whip out some coloured pencils and channel your inner Picasso.
Before you sit down with your colouring book think about your environment, is it peaceful and quiet? In an ideal world, you would find yourself in a place where you can fully relax and focus, but sometimes that’s just not possible. As long as somewhere where you can block out outside distractions, your mindfulness colouring should have the desired effect. Before you start scribbling, take a few deep breaths and check in with yourself.
Choose a picture you connect with, even if it’s a simple drawing of a tree, pick something that you feel speaks to you or something you find particularly appealing. By using an image that you feel connected with, it will be easier to hold your concentration. If you’re already halfway through a picture but you’re just not feeling it, there’s no harm in starting a new one- remember, you make the rules!
If you find your mind wandering off on a tangent, make a mental (non-judgemental!) note of it and keep colouring. Acknowledge your thoughts and emotions, but try not to dwell on them. Simple acknowledge that they’re there, take a breath and focus on the picture again. Sometimes it helps to make a note of everything you’re doing, like using a blue pencil or colouring in the grass, for example.
Choosing colours that invoke positivity and a good mood is also a great trick to ground yourself. Each colour represents a different emotion, such as red which represents power, passion, and excitement. Use colours that speak to you and make you feel good, it doesn’t matter if the sky is purple not blue if it helps you! Here’s a great table showing each colour and what emotions they represent:
How to introduce mindfulness colouring into your routine
The beauty of colouring is that you can pick it up and put it down whenever you fancy it, so there is no right or wrong way to go about it. There’s no need to finish what you’re doing in one sitting, so it’s easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
If you have your bedtime routine down to a T, then why not incorporate mindfulness colouring into that? Instead of watching tv or reading a book after you get home from a long day at work, pick up your pencils and use that to destress and reset your mind. As it’s a soothing activity, colouring is something you can do before you go to bed. You don’t need to worry about it overstimulating your brain or body and might actually find it helps you fall asleep faster!
If you wake up and you’re not feeling 100% yourself, then do some colouring while you sip your morning tea or coffee. And if work is stressing you out, pack your colouring book and do a little scribble and grounding work at lunch or on a 5-minute break.
If you’re all about the tech, then there are tonnes of drawing apps you can download that are specifically designed for adult mindfulness colouring. If you’d prefer to have something physical, most book or stationery shops will sell colouring books, or simply download and print one out from the internet!
Anytime you feel like you’ve got a few minutes spare is a good time to practice mindfulness. Even if there isn’t anything in particular that’s stressing you out, grounding yourself and checking in with how you’re feeling is always a good habit to get into to make sure you’re feeling on you’re A-game.
And if you need a little extra pick-me-up, why not download the Morale app? Built off the power of affirmations, Morale is the helping hand you need to keep your mindset in check and your anxiety under control. Each day you can send and receive positive affirmations from your closest friends and family and help each other deal with the stress that daily life throws your way. Getting a self esteem boost will give you the confidence to tackle every challenge with a positive mindset and a can-do attitude.
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If you’re interested in hearing more about how we can help you, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to help!