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.
- Between Sessions mindful coloring book
- Color-a-Mandala free printable colouring sheets
- Just Color mandala colouring sheets
- MondayMandala patterns
- Super Coloring mandala colouring pages
- Swirling leaves mandala
- TeachingIdeas: dragonfly | elephant | fox | iguana | rhino | turtle
- The Spruce Crafts mandala colouring pages
- Twinkl mindfulness colouring sheets
- YouthFocus mindful colouring sheets
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”
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.
I’m all kinds of stubborn, and I think I would have reacted the same way to that. 😉
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.
Ooh, sparkles adds extra fun!
Yes! I get exited as a child at Christmas time. lol. Crayola sells them 🙂
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 🙂
I wear a lot of black too. Colours like pink and yellow look horrible with my skin tone, but I sure do like them as flower colours. 🌸🌼
It’s amazing how being institutionalized often leads to colouring, mandalas, origami etc. It’s funny….it really helps!
Yeah, it definitely seems to be a common theme!
I use this to battle my anxiety. It is something that captures my focus so much that I can’t give my energy to anxiety.
I’m glad it helps. xo
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.
Ooh, I think I’ll have to borrow that!
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”
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!
Thank you! I pair colouring with music, and that works really well for me too.