Understanding the science behind mindful colouring for mental health
Lots of you will have heard of mindful colouring and I really recommend giving it a try.
Mindfulness is based on ancient meditation practices but has a huge modern research base behind it. It is a way of helping to connect with your body, thoughts and feelings in a different way. Mindfulness basically means being present and fully experiencing what you are doing in the moment, right now. It is a way of becoming aware of yourself and your mind and has been shown to be helpful in managing depression, anxiety, pain, distress and boredom. Sometimes it can feel as if our thoughts are running round our heads and dwelling on bad things or freaking out about tomorrow. Mindfulness aims to help us step back from that and create a space away from our racing thoughts.
Mindful colouring... how does that work?
It can help your mind to be less troubled.
Mindful colouring is a way to focus mindfully on one thing and keep your full attention on what you are doing.
One approach would be to use a book of intricate designs that force you to work slowly and carefully.
Dr Navreen K. Singh did her doctoral thesis on mindful colouring in 2018 and showed that it helped a group of adults. She concluded it “appears to increase aspects of mindfulness and improve wellbeing”. It was a small study, and there haven’t, as far as I am aware, been any big research trials on it. However, it appears that mindful colouring can be very helpful and it can certainly be a calming and enjoyable way of spending time.
If you have ever seen a toddler absorbed in play the you will know what mindfulness looks like. It is giving all your attention to one thing. In the toddler's case that may be for only a short time of course, but it will be the one thing that are doing at the time. (Especially if the one thing they are doing is flushing a t-shirt down the loo or emptying sugar all over the floor).
Of course, other activities can also be done mindfully. So mindful walking would involve switching off your phone and concentrating on everything you see and hear around you. Or mindful yoga would be concentrating totally on the movement and discarding all other thoughts.
I hope that, like me, you find mindfulness a help for your mind.
With all best wishes,
Dr Helen Care
Find out more
For more information on Mindfulness, as well as example exercises and resources designed
specifically for young people, click below for the Oxford Mindfulness Centre’s dedicated website for young people: Do Nothing.