Creativity, spontaneity, playfulness and relaxation are just a few of the fringe benefits of the hot new trend in mindful colouring. With a 300% increase in sales of adult colouring books in Waterstones last year, it’s clear that doodling’s not just for kids. Capable of slotting into even the most meagre lunch break, could mindful colouring de-stress me from more grown-up PowerPoint pursuits? Packing my felt tips in my work bag, I prepared myself for a mindful lunch break filled with whirls and swirls.
Choosing the right tools
A rash January sales purchase, I did initially wonder if my new colouring book and pens would end up with my four-year-old nephew. But having parted with over £10.00 of hard-earned cash, I had to give it a go and was amazed by how addictive it is. Before you rush out to WH Smith though, here’s a few tips on choosing the right gear.
Selecting a colouring book that appeals to you is vitally important. As someone who struggles with attention to detail, I knew I wouldn’t have the patience to persevere with the best-selling Secret Garden’s intricate designs. Being all about the bigger picture, I opted instead for Sacred Nature by Lydia Hess (£9.99) – all geometric mandalas and strutting peacocks in reassuring wide blocks of colour.
I have learnt to my cost that cheap felt tips are a false economy as the colour range is limited and they tend to flood the page with ink. As an adult colourer, it goes without saying that crayons are out of the question. Coloured pencils or fineliners are ideal, the latter being particularly useful for fiddly bits. Once my felt tips run out, I’ll be trying out the Staedtler triplus fineliner pens which come in a huge range of colours.
The bliss of mindful colouring in your lunch break
Be warned, colouring in does attract strange looks. With this in mind, I decided to take my felt tips off for a spot of clandestine colouring in a quiet café near the office. Savouring twenty minutes of screen-free bliss, I whip out my colouring book in preparation. Although still a solo pursuit in the UK, colouring circles are now springing up in Australia. Could I be the first to initiate an office colouring club I idly wonder?
The whiff of felt tip immediately transports me back to childhood as all my attention focusses on keeping within the lines. (Still a struggle!) Immediately engrossed, all the worries of the morning simply melt away as I experience the mindful rapture of being in the moment with only a simple task to complete. Studies have shown that colouring lowers the activity of the amygdala – a basic part of the brain involved in controlling the emotions that are affected by stress.
As a mindful pursuit, it’s a lot easier than lunch break meditation but still requires enough logic, creativity and coordination to focus the mind. As my technicolour mandala slowly springs to life, I feel a deep sense of peace at being immersed in the creative process – far removed from the normal frantic pace of office life.
Choosing which colour to select injects a sense of spontaneity and playfulness to proceedings as a sea of ruby reds, navy blues and vibrant greens pour onto the page. Playfulness stimulates the imagination, helping us stay flexible and respond better to stressful situations. It’s all such a peaceful contrast to the sensory overload of “normal” lunch break web surfing.
In the blink of an eye, twenty minutes race pass and it’s time to pack away the felt tips and head back to the office. As I slip back behind my desk, I feel instantly calmer. With fewer worries racing round my head, it’s now much easier to focus on the tasks at hand. As long as I keep from reaching for the felt tips and doodling on the side of my page that is.
Find more ideas and inspiration for mindful lunch breaks.