Colour Me Calm
Colouring books for adults have become a huge trend in the health and wellness world. The idea behind it is that as you colour, you focus your mind entirely on that activity so it quiets down and you experience a state of calm.
There’s science behind it – according to a psychologist, “The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills [coordination necessary to make small, precise movements]. The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.” 1
Well, the first few minutes of colouring was anything but calming for me. I was incredibly upset with myself – I had coloured outside the lines and there was no way of fixing that mistake. “Gah!” was my common exclamation throughout the activity. My sister remarked that what she was witnessing with my colouring was the exact opposite reaction the activity was meant to elicit. “I’m worried” she joked.
I found myself complaining about everything in my life that wasn’t working out as I continued to carefully fill in the flowers I was colouring.
Eventually, when I had nothing left to say, I quietened down. I just coloured. And I tried to stop berating myself when I made a mistake and coloured outside of the lines. I told myself it wasn’t about making it perfect. I was almost in a trance-like state. My thoughts just went away.
The whole activity was actually very insightful – I realized how deeply ingrained my perfectionism was and how I needed to relinquish control over what couldn’t be corrected (like colouring outside of the lines). I also realized how busy my mind was and how the frustrations of my life were almost like a track playing on repeat in my subconscious – not good! I always remember how Wayne Dyer used to say that what is in your subconscious mind drives your reality and it is so important to keep it positive.
I’ve committed to colouring weekly and I highly recommend it for anyone who is craving some peace in their lives – even for just a few minutes. It’s fun, calms you down, helps you realize what is bugging you on a subconscious level and it connects you with your inner child. Kick it up a notch by adding your favourite music. Sounds pretty soul nurturing – right?
- Gloria Martinez Ayala quoted in “Colouring Isn’t Just For Kids. It Can Actually Help Adults Combat Stress.” Huffington Post (October 2014) <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/13/coloring-for-stress_n_5975832.html>. ↩