Colouring as a Mindfulness Activity

Colouring as a mindfulness activity - graphic of multicoloured pencil crayons

When I was hospitalized, all of a sudden, I had a bunch of time on my hands without a whole lot of options available for how to spend it. A favourite option of mine, both during this recent admission and during previous ones, is colouring.

So what’s the big appeal? I think it makes a great mindfulness activity—it keeps you in the present moment rather than time-travelling to the past or future. I find that my thoughts generally tend to stay in the background when I’m focused on colouring. That focus is much easier to maintain than with something like reading, which requires a fair bit of mental energy to concentrate.

According to a PositivePsychology article, “The fundamental concept of mindfulness coloring is that the very act of coloring pre-drawn illustrations provides an opportunity to suspend our inner dialogue and engage in an activity that disregards the flow of negative thoughts that can dominate our lives.” Research has shown that reasonably complex images (like mandalas) offer more benefits than simple images. I also like that a single complex image can take up quite a bit of time to complete.

Colouring hasn’t really been something I do when I’m at home; usually, jigsaw puzzles are my present-moment, no-thought-required activity of choice. However, I think now I’ll probably keep it up for a while, at least until I finish with the colouring books I’ve currently got on the go.

Where to find free colouring sheets

My lovely blogging friend Erika Jane has colouring sheets on her blog That Beautiful Brain.

Other options:

Colour Psychology

These colour associations come from Platt College.

  • Red: passion, excitement, love, confidence, comfort, warmth
  • Orange: excitement, energy, health and vitality, friendly, enthusiasm, beauty, earthiness, seasonal change, warmth
  • Yellow: warm, cheerful, attention-grabbing, happiness, hope
  • Green: nature, growth, health, new beginnings, money, renewal, calm, abundance, soothing, fertility, good luck, harmony, balance
  • Blue: authority, calming, masculine, non-threatening, peaceful, refreshing, reliable, responsible, serene, stable, strength, tranquil
  • Purple: magical, creative, mysterious, spiritual, imaginative, luxurious, royalty, romance, and wealth
  • White: cleanliness, innocence, virginity, healthcare, purity, goodness, peace
  • Black: magic, power, fashion, elegance, mystery, wealth, formality
  • Gray: professional, formal, sophisticated
  • Brown: down-to-earth, warm, family, dependability, steadfastness, comfortable, reliable

I’m a blue, purple, and pink kinda gal myself, and I think those are the shades of pencil crayons I’m going to use up the fastest (pencil crayons is the Canadian term for coloured pencils). Blue is my favourite colour, and I definitely get a calming, peaceful, tranquil vibe from it.

What’s your favourite colour, and do any of these colour associations resonate with you? Do you have any favourite activities for keeping you grounded in the present moment?

53 thoughts on “Colouring as a Mindfulness Activity”

  1. Colouring has been my thing and I still have mine. But i have not been doing any for a while. Thinking I may colour a little bit on Sunday, or even to be different, print some simplier designs and paint one.

    Dvd’s have been my increasing escape over these last 2 years and will still be. But I have been doing mindful walking, when out and at times, mindful walking inside. Also been doing a bit of Tai chi.

  2. I love the colours pink and purple. I like to read and listen to music and write, and sometimes I will watch tv and knit at the same time. <3

  3. I love this post! Everything that you said just rings so true. Coloring is an activity I picked up when I had kids and it is so relaxing and mindful. Not to mention, a great way to stay present with them as we color side-by-side. I tend to do blue, purple and green and love the feel of a new colored pencil set!

    So glad that you coloring made passing time in that last hospital stay more palate-able. [That’s my color joke. 🙂 ] Thanks for explaining why it’s such a great activity!

    Happy Friday!

  4. We do coloring in therapy sometimes. As a way to get into harder topics while also have a more relaxed environment. I even have a small collection of adult themed coloring books with some colorful language that she keeps there for me for whenever I needed it.

  5. Coloring has never been my thing but I enjoy coloring in actual coloring books when I do. Something about the paper with the actual crayon…I love to use white. My favorite colors are red and purple but black and white are my go to for everything. Weird, I know. Lol.

  6. My favorite colors are whatever makes me happy at the time. Currently yellow (real yellow not like gold yellow), orange and deep rich amethyst purple. Never cared for blue, green, brown – tho I have a slight interest in very pale green. Teal – that’s another new one – but teal that leans green rather than blue. A bit of teal, here and there, just a smidge makes me smile.

  7. My Favorite colors are red, purple and green. All of my hobbies like coloring and jigsaw puzzles have been digital. I am getting sicker though with migraines so I am going to start to not due the digital route anymore.

  8. I love how inexpensive coloring is and it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake. I like jigsaw puzzles too. I usually have one in progress on my kitchen table. I do a little at a time.

  9. Green is my favourite colour- is calming and reminds me of nature. I love the idea of colouring and I can imagine doing it for 5 mins before getting distracted or mind starts racing. I think that probably just proves it would be beneficial for me to develop some mindfulness activities. I do love cleaning, but if like something where I can just sit and focus.

  10. Elisa Rose Mignone

    I feel that way too. I’ve always like to draw and paint. I always had a coloring book by my side just in case I had that urge. But I bought like My Little Pony stuff like that because i wanted it very simple. Just feeling the crayon on the paper was soothing. It kept me in the present and made me very happy. Then I started going inpatient, who knew it would be my savior there too. Coloring puts me in a good present place. Also. My mom was diagnosed at 60 with dementia. We colored together a lot! Her favorite thing and she seemed so happy and calm finally. She was proof positive for the good effects of coloring for me! Thank you for your post!

  11. I’ve always enjoyed colouring…

    It’s very creative and I do love the purple, blue and pink and red colours.

    I like to try and make the colours pop some, by sharing and different things…

    I have sparkly gel pens and metallic pens that give a different feel to colouring…. its great fun!

  12. I bought some colouring books and used them for a bit. Quite calming for me.I stopped using them when someone I know bought me one because they felt I ‘was stressed’. I decided not to colour that book because being told I was stressed wasn’t helpful. And I may be a bit stubborn. Now I don’t have to deal with that person, I might get back into it.
    I think different pictures need different colours. I don’t have favourites when colouring, I guess I try to make the colours work together.

  13. I love colouring and I find it so relaxing. I have been doing this for a long time and I have plenty of different types of colouring books lying around the house. I also buy different types of sparkles, marker, and crayons. I encourage my children to this also because it really does bring you to the present moment.

  14. Show me a piece of paper and a crayon and I’m colouring, a little embarrassing when that piece of paper is a placemat in a restaurant meant for my grandchildren 🙂
    Favourite colour? Hmmm… I’m drawn to blue in life and in art, but I only wear black and grey. I’m attracted to red purses, but I had to stop buying them because if a purse isn’t black it sits in my closet. I love bright pinks and yellows, on someone else 🙂

    Thanks for the link to colouring sheets 🙂

      1. There are not many things that have the ability to keep my squirrels in the same nest, mine are always, “EEK Raccoon – Scatter NOW”
        So when I can’t stay focused I say “SQUIRREL” and my kids understand.

  15. You know us and our animals 😆 We find them in the weirdest places. Or in my case chasing after them screaming “come back, I just wanted to be friends” “well fuck now I have lost my mind everywhere”

  16. I loooove color psychology! Super great article. I’ve used coloring with my teenagers a lot and it really is a beautiful way to connect with people, as well. I find for myself that pairing up visual art with some sort of auditory stimulation really grounds me nicely. I’m always a proponent of having folx access their creative brain for grounding 🙂

    And I’m definitely a blue boi maybe with some yellow and grey in there somewhere. Awesome words as always!

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