Psychologists Explain How “Adult Coloring” Is The Best Alternative to Meditation

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With the world growing more hectic and fast-paced, many people have turned to mindfulness to maintain their sanity and peace of mind. Mindfulness simply means being in the moment without distractions, and one of the best ways to do that comes from meditating. According to an article from the American Psychological Association, meditation offers the following benefits:

  • Reduces overthinking. 
  • Cuts down on stress and anxiety.
  • Boosts memory.
  • Increases focus and emotional control.
  • Increases self-awareness.
  • Helps with communication in relationships.
  • Boosts immune system.
  • Enhances intuition.
  • Decreases effort on tasks.

Other health benefits to meditation include decreasing depression, generating kindness, decreasing blood pressure and pain, improving sleep, and helping overcome addiction. These are only some of the many benefits of mindfulness meditation, but we have to stop here because we could literally write a book about how this type of meditation can change lives.

At the end of this article,   we would like to go over the basics of meditation for those who prefer this method of attaining mindfulness instead. Now that we’ve talked about the benefits of mindfulness and how you can begin your own practice, we’ll go over a new alternative to meditation: coloring.

How Adult Coloring Books Can Replace Meditation

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Yes, you read that correctly. “Adult” coloring books have become popular in recent years, maybe because people secretly want to feel like kids again, or maybe because it gives them a relaxing escape from daily stresses. Mandala coloring books, specifically, have gotten popular, along with nature and animal themes.

Coloring Welcomes Mindfulness

Coloring might help people with mindfulness because their minds must focus on one task. Additionally, coloring doesn’t require a lot of critical thinking. It gives the brain a break because it induces a “flow” state, where you lose track of time and simply enjoy the moment.

For people who don’t like meditation, coloring books can provide the same benefits in a totally different way. Before we get into the studies about adult coloring books, let’s talk about what a mandala is and why it seems to offer such healing properties.

The mandala is a symbol for the universe in Buddhism and Hinduism. Its various designs in adult coloring books allow the artist to venture to new worlds and universes. The designs are made differently so adults can remain stimulated enough with the activity to keep at it for at least a little while.

Coloring Reduces Stress

Anxiety and stress are at all-time highs, as people feel the effects of modern life with growing intensity. Coloring offers an escape to all the stress and responsibilities of adult life without having to spend a lot of money or time on the activity. Adults deserve to be kids for a little while, don’t we? Even if you only have 30 minutes to spare each day, carving out the time for this quiet activity can make a big difference in your mindset.

meditation

A few studies have proven the benefits of adult coloring books. First of all, coloring helps us detach from our worries temporarily and instead focus on the task at hand. The studies also showed an increase in mindfulness and decrease in anxiety, which is the whole point of the exercise. Psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala explains what happens in our brains while coloring:

“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.”

Adult Coloring Allows you to be a Child Again

As we get older, we have more to stress about. So often, it seems that the carefree days of childhood are long behind us. Children generally don’t have much to worry about, which means their fight-or-flight response isn’t as active. Becoming an adult requires taking on a lot of responsibilities, and sometimes, it can get pretty overwhelming. Luckily, many people are finding enjoyment and relaxation in the simple activity that we used to spend hours on as children.

“Adult coloring” allows you to get back to that carefree state of mind and immerse yourself in the creative experience. A lot of us have lost touch with our creative side, but coloring allows you to tap into that once again. You can choose from thousands of different designs either in stores or online, which means you’ll never run out of options for coloring.

A Few Tips for Adult Coloring

When you color, make the environment as peaceful and inviting as possible, because this is truly a meditative experience that can transform your life.

  • Set aside a quiet space in your home free from distractions.
  • If you have phones or computers nearby, shut them off temporarily so you won’t be tempted to scroll through social media or check emails.
  • You can play soft music if that helps you concentrate better.
  • Light some incense or candles to help you relax.

We get so caught up in our chores and worries that we make little time to just enjoy life. Don’t worry about work, school, the kids, or anything else for the time being. Allow your mind to wander and daydream, because you deserve to disconnect for a bit so you can reconnect with yourself.

Here are three important steps to beginning your (traditional) meditation practice:

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

  1. Find a comfortable place.

The ideal time to meditate is in the early morning hours or just before bed. Try to find a peaceful, quiet spot in your room or in a corner of the house where you can create a haven of sorts. You can sit on the floor or in a chair, but avoid meditating in your bed since you might fall asleep during your practice.

Cross your legs if you’re on the floor. If you’re in a chair, keep your back straight and posture upright. Turn your focus to the chair supporting you or the floor beneath your body. Focus on the sensations you feel throughout your body. Bring your awareness to your feet, then your legs, and so on until you reach your head.

Part of this practice involves getting back in touch with your body, as most of us have grown very disconnected from ourselves due to lack of awareness.

  1. Practice positive thinking.

While a clear mind is ideal for meditation, this will not happen for some time as it takes a while to learn the art of unthinking. To start, you want to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, as this will help you form a better relationship with yourself and avoid rumination.

Many people who are learning how to meditate find that repeating a mantra in their head helps them maintain focus throughout their practice.

Here are a few positive mantras you can recite to yourself, either aloud or in your head:

  • “I love myself.”
  • “I’m accepting of myself.”
  • “I am beautiful, and I notice the beauty reflected in the world around me.”
  • “I’ll treat myself with kindness no matter what.”
  • “I am safe and happy.”
  • “I am strong and capable of whatever life throws at me.”
  1. Focus on your breathing.

Breathing exercises while you meditate will help decrease anxiety and allow you to clear your mind. Breathe in and out slowly, and hold your breath for a few counts so you can practice deep breathing.

One great breathing technique to try is the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. Here’s how to do it:

Sit up straight and place the tip of your tongue against the back of your upper two front teeth. Keep your tongue here for the entire exercise, and breathe out near where your tongue is placed. You can purse your lips if this feels more comfortable.

Then, exhale through your mouth while making a whooshing sound. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose until you get to four. Hold your breath for seven counts, then exhale through your mouth to a count of eight. This counts as one breath. Repeat this three more times.

When you meditate, it’s important to be patient with yourself. As we said before, you won’t be able to have a clear mind when you first start practicing. In the beginning, focusing on self-awareness and getting back in touch with your mind and body is much more important.

Final thoughts on How Adult Coloring is a Great Alternative to Meditation

Adult coloring books are a wonderful option to help you relax, learn mindfulness, and create beautiful art at the same time. You can do this activity alone or with your family. Either way, make sure to reduce distractions and create a peaceful environment. People all over the world have turned to coloring in order to reclaim their childhood and avoid “adulting” for a little bit. Try it out and see what you think; you might have found a fun new hobby for yourself!


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