Most of us know colouring as a childhood activity involving Crayons and an OCD-like urge to stay only within the lines. But colouring for adults may actually have stress-relieving effects, according to a small study. Here's why you might want to give it a try.
Image by david.nikonvscanon
There are a couple of guesses as to why colouring can help someone relax and "meditate": It is repetitive, brings you to the present moment, and lets you do something relaxing in an almost trance-like state, easily shutting out other distractions. When you colour, you focus on it and let your worries float through and away, just as you do in meditation. So, colouring can be a good option for people who want to meditate but suck at meditating.
While there isn't a huge body of research yet on "colouring as meditation," a study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association recruited 84 college students and examined the effects on their anxiety after colouring three types of canvases: a mandala, a plaid pattern, or a blank piece of paper. The results showed that people in the mandala and plaid form groups experienced a greater reduction in anxiety than did the folks in the blank paper group. The researchers suggested that colouring "reasonably complex geometric pattern may induce a meditative state that benefits individuals suffering from anxiety."
If you're interested in seeing if you can achieve a meditative state or even just de-stress, you can download mandala patterns here or check out Mental Floss's list of the most unusual adult colouring books.
Can Colouring Mandalas Reduce Anxiety? [Journal of the American Art Therapy Association]