Updated: Nov 25, 2021
When you think about colouring, what comes to mind first? Most tend to automatically define colouring as an activity meant for children to keep them occupied. And there’s nothing wrong with that association--in fact, it creates a poignant segue into why coloring is the perfect downtime hobby for overworked adults.
Just as colouring serves as a mode of distraction for children, it provides the same sense of meditative diversion for the adult mind by redirecting our attention toward colouring rather than being actively receptive to stressful thoughts like worrying about that big meeting tomorrow, or remembering that you forgot to take the trash out, etc.
Multiple studies have found that people who opted to allot designated leisure time for low-intensity hobbies into their schedule exhibited overall lower blood pressure, decreased cortisol levels (stress hormone), a healthier BMI, and more sustainable exertion of energy during physical activity.
Our Societal Need for Conscious Rest & Active Meditation Activities
In the fast-paced lifestyle of contemporary society, it can sometimes feel next to impossible to find a moment of true reprieve that isn’t just nightly sleep. Our brains need both conscious and unconscious rest in order to function in their optimal state. So while a goodnight’s sleep is important, relying solely on that one period of rest to both rehabilitate you from the day prior and also properly prepare you for the next, is always going to result in lingering exhaustion come morning. Conscious rest, which is so necessary for renewed mental clarity, can be achieved through modes of active meditation such as colouring, gardening, going on a walk, knitting, needlework, etc.
Not having enough time is one the most popular and overtired excuses used by those who neglect to incorporate any hobbies at all into their lives. And yet it’s usually these same people who reach for their phones and spend an indefinite amount of time scrolling when they do finally catch a break.
Embracing Digital Minimalism
We live in an age where our devices have essentially become an extension of identities, and it’s doing more direct harm to us than good. Excessive exposure to blue light can actually induce the complete opposite effects that colouring and other active mediation activities have been proven to combat.
The blue light emitted by all screens--computer, phones, TV, tablets, etc.--not only disrupts the circadian rhythm, but wreaks havoc on the body by its spiking cortisol and adrenaline levels. Even just receiving notifications, or anxiously awaiting a response to a message can send your body into the beginnings of fight or flight.
As a biological self-defense mechanism, fight or flight triggers those stress hormones to start surging through your body. That, of course, is a natural response. But where it becomes an issue is if your body enters the state every time you use your device for an extended period of time. Putting your body under unrelenting stress can increase your risk of experiencing heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, and strokes. Opting to colour instead of thumbing through social media could quite literally be saving your life.
Obviously, a comprehensive digital detox is the number one most beneficial thing someone whose screen time is through the roof can do for themselves. But in our day & age, for the vast majority who rely on technology for both work and everyday life, completely unplugging isn’t in the cards.
The next best thing would be to embrace habits that descend from the concept of digital minimalism. Digital minimalism upholds the art of using your incremented time online for necessary tasks and intentional objectives, logging off promptly after. By embracing this method, you aren’t neglecting your commitments for some sort of radical anti-modern technology rally. Instead you’ve reprioritize how much time you actually need in front of the screen, versus how much time you spend with your face buried in your phone
The Great Revival of Adult Colouring During Lockdown
Colouring books designed specifically for adults first made their commercial headway as an unforgettable trend of 2015. After their moment in the spotlight, raking in nearly 12 million dollars in collective sales, the market for adult colouring books hit a rather abrupt hiatus shortly after. But upon the emergence of lockdown, the resurrection of adult colouring books was almost immediate. If a collective yearning for hobbies that keep our minds disconnected while still busy posed enough incentive for adult colouring books to make a comeback nearly six years later, then maybe we had once been on a similar track in 2015.
With the isolation and prolonged period of unknowingness, the pandemic ushered in a revolutionary need for the same sense of distraction that coloring might offer to a mind tormented by daily stress, but on a much larger scale. This widespread resurgence of hobbies we witnessed during quarantine began as a last-ditch effort to stave-off feelings of anxiety and pessimism by returning to ourselves in the absence of others, but subsisted as a light at the end of the tunnel that offered newfound perspectives as the months dragged on. For many, these hobbies transformed from pastimes into passion projects in hardly no time at all. Whether they knew it or not, people were reaping the benefits of true conscious rest by pouring their hearts and minds into a hobby.
For those who were looking for a creative outlet that was both affordable as well as less mentally taxing than learning a new instrument or drafting the beginnings of their first memoir, adult colouring books hit the nail on the head.
Now, as a proven coping mechanism for managing sentiments of stress and anxiety as they arise, adult coloring books have taken a sharper turn toward creating a clear-cut niche for adult coloring as a meditation alternative through a different genre of coloring called Mandala colouring.
Mandala Colouring Technique
According to renowned psychologist Carl Jung, the mandala was a geometrical representation of how we view ourselves in relation to our place in this life. Traditionally-speaking, mandalas are designs that originated from both Buddhism and Hinduism, representing the omnipotence of the universe through their intricate designs. Colouring mandalas as opposed to a conventional adult coloring book can offer more in regard to the meditative and therapeutic experience by virtue of how complex their designs can be. These minute details require true focus, therefore almost guaranteeing that your mind won’t be dwelling on negative thoughts, but rather on the elaborate mandala in front of you.
Adult Colouring Mediums for Beginners
If you’ve just begun your adult colouring journey, the best medium to begin with is definitely coloured pencils. Coloured pencils are relatively no mess (beside their shavings) and far easier to shade and blend with than most other advanced mediums.
The range of brands and types of coloured pencils available for purchase either online or in-store are exhaustive. We suggest that you narrow your scope by two defining factors: price & an anticipated quality. If you don’t personally care all that much about quality and color pay-off, then you’ll probably be able to track down colored pencils for as little as a dollar or two.
*Keep an eye out for brands like: Cra-Z-Art, Crayola, & Sample
When it comes to coloured pencils, investing just a couple more dollars in the more expensive option can be a night & day difference in regard to the quality, vibrancy, and longevity of your pencils compared to the budget options available.
*Keep an eye out for brands like: Prismacolor, Arteza, & Derwent Procolour
Honestly, the only real reason you should consider waiting to invest in professional markers for your mandalas or adult colouring books is because one small wrong move could tarnish your entire piece if you’re using ink. And while perfection isn’t everything, messing up can still be incredibly frustrating, especially if you’ve already put a decent amount of time and effort into a page.
*Keep an eye out for brands like: Stabilo, Pentel, & Sharpie
Before using markers, you’ll want to know how to best avoid smears, to feel confident that your dexterity can handle using markers in small in-between blank spaces, and to be sure not stain the tips of your markers with residual ink from others in the page.
Last but not least, the holy grail rule that sets apart whether you should be using markers or coloured pencils--blending! DO NOT try to blend with your markers. You’ll end up with the stain of two disagreeing colors on your page, and potentially paper that will start to pill.
Because coloured pencils are a dry medium, blend all you want! You’ll never have to worry about bleeding, blotting, or staining. That is unless you’re using watercolour pencils.