When I was given one of the now in vogue adult colouring-in books for my birthday recently, at first I felt a little embarrassed about how excited I was. This was because I thought that I should, at age 39, be “too old” to enjoy colouring in. However, it was validating to see that my local book shop has not just a few of these adult colouring in books (by ‘adult’ it does these books do not have anything to do with sex in any way!). There were a few shelves of these – mostly intricate, beautifully drawn, and all terribly engaging!
So when I received “The Enchanted Forest”, I was delighted. However, I have not fully realised how wonderful these books are until I actually started colouring in.
At first, I felt a little childish: I hadn’t actually done this since I was a kid! However, I felt glad that here was a valid way to do something fun and relaxing that was, yes, for adults!
I got carried back to childhood as I got out my big red pencil case. I had fun pouring them out, inspecting the range of colours I had, which I thought I would never use! Here I was, all grown-up, with a valid way to enjoy myself which yes, I certainly have so far! Just as much, even more than I did when I was a kid!
I’m one of those people who tend to get caught up in my head too much, thinking. As such, at times I find it hard to focus on the present moment. I am thinking of the future, my anxieties, and in all these ruminations are not that pleasant. I find there are so many uncertainties and things to take responsibility for as adults, these colouring books offer a valid and ‘okay’ way to do something we used to do with children.
However, as well as being pleasant, these books have much to offer – everyone: especially for those who feel they are too busy, or too serious to gain any of profit from them. And it is hard to imagine how beneficial engaging in this mindful exercise is until you participate.
An improvement in anxiety and depression. As we stay focussed on the present moment, by logic we cannot be in the past or the future. The mind can only be in one place in time at any moment. When we are in the past, perhaps we are thinking of events that cause us to feel down. When thinking of the future, anxiety is common as we try to plan how we will juggle upcoming events. Or worry about what might or might now happen. As you start colouring in, you may find yourself smiling as I did, enjoying yourself in a perfectly valid way, because these books are designed to have benefits such as these. I found myself forgetting all the worries I had. For the time I was colouring, I just did not think too much as I usually do! And that was such a relief for me!
An improvement in concentration. Colouring-in can actually serve as an exercise in mindfulness – being absorbed fully in the task at hand improves our ability to do more often. The present is where the power is – what we achieve in the present moment with our best concentration is directly related to how successful we will be at it.
An exercise in creativity and practicing using the right side of our brain. As we focus on the colours we choose for various patterns and other focus points of the particular book (mine is gardens), our creative side gets a rarely used chance to think about how you believe colours can be selected so the picture looks the best. In addition, the book I have at least also has clues to a cryptic problem contained within it, so we need to think in a different way, and the relaxing colouring is balanced by the more challenging task of solving the problem. (I believe most of the adult ones also contain such a puzzle as part of it).
Adult colouring books might not be for everyone, but I am enjoying the process of using mine as often as I feel I have a good excuse to do it! So, if you feel like you may like to try it, remember it’s a valid grown-up thing to do with benefits, so at least give it a go!