The Joy of Colouring 

[read time: 3 minutes] 

Hi, everyone! Welcome to the first article in “The Joy of…” series, where I explore mindful activities and how engaging in them might benefit you. 

What is a mindful activity? It’s where you: 

-pay attention
-live in the moment 
-accept yourself 
-focus on your breathing 

For more information, see here

Today we will explore the fascinating world of adult colouring. For any of you who liked to colour as a kid: this will definitely interest you. 

It is said that engaging in old childhood hobbies can be beneficial for stress reduction. Picking up a new hobby can mean less screen time. Doing a hobby on the weekend or in between shifts is more beneficial to your mental health than going out and getting shitfaced. (I say this from experience.) 

How to get started: 

You will need a colouring page or book. If you’re broke like me, print out something at home. Otherwise, there is a plethora of colouring books available, and most are reasonably priced ($10-$30 CAD). Generally, the more you pay, the higher the quality of the paper, and therefore the more you can do with it. First, identify what you would like to colour. For example, if you want to colour flowers or nature, do not buy a book with architecture images. As you begin to colour more, you will figure out what artists you like, what images you enjoy, and what draws you to a page. My personal favourites are Kanoko Egusa or Hanna Karlzon. I find the activity of flipping through the pages in the colouring books and imagining the colours on the page a mindful activity itself. 

You will also need materials. Again, the more you pay, the higher quality you receive. An investment in a good-quality set can go a long way. 

Pens: pens are quick and easy to colour with. I recommend Staedler or Gelly Rolls. With pens, however, you might get bleed-through to the other page; slip a piece of white computer paper underneath to cushion it. As well, pens are permanent and usually non-blendable – shading a picture, or even doing an ombre effect, is not recommended. (I recommend using pens only for a one-dimensional picture, such as a mandala.) 

Pencil crayons: pencil crayons are my personal choice when colouring. My favourite is Prismacolor Premier. If you’re brand new to colouring and feel daunted by the prospect of shading, try a greyscale colouring book to get started. 

Watercolour pencils, soft pastels, and more: as long as the paper can handle it, play around with different materials and see what you enjoy to use. There is no right or wrong way to colour. I have even seen people add glitter, ribbon, and scrapbook embellishments to their pages. Have fun! 

No matter what you use, the fun is in using it. If you use pencil crayons, enjoy the buttery feel that the pencil leaves over the paper. Listen to scratching sound it makes. Watch as, layer by layer, the page in front of you transforms from blank to alive with colour. Engage your senses. The important thing is taking the time for yourself, away from your phone/ screens/ kids/ life/ etc. Enjoy the moment, do not worry about your past/ the future. You will feel a sense of accomplishment when you have completed an element – or a whole page – and receive a natural hit of dopamine. 

If you are feeling stuck, I recommend using Pinterest or watching YouTube for inspiration. There are a lot of amazing colourists whose work you can learn a lot from. These resources are also great places to start if you have never coloured before, never used art supplies, or don’t know where to start. 

So – can adult colouring really be a beneficial and mindful activity? Yes. Pay attention to how you feel: relaxed? Uptight? Ideally, by engaging in the moment, you will not feel the latter. If so, try taking a few deep breaths. Accept yourself, as mentioned above. Let the creativity flow from you. There is nobody around to judge you. (Unless you’re colouring with a group of friends, which is fantastic, but I cannot stop them from judging you, sorry.) 

The takeaway: 

Colouring is one of my favourite hobbies to engage in when I am feeling stressed or bored. For me to really benefit from it, I usually wait until my daughter is asleep to pull out the book and pencil crayons. (We colour a LOT together during the day; there’s just not enough room for her books AND mine, so we compromise and use hers, lol.) 

I personally love to listen to an audiobook or podcast while colouring, sip a cup of tea (carefully, lol) and allow any worries to slip away. It is an enjoyable and mindful way to spend my time. 

How about you? Have you ever engaged in a hobby as an adult that you once did as a kid? Do you like to colour too? 

Note: I do not receive commission if you click on the links and buy anything. I’m only sharing them because I truly like them 🙂 

Published by Erica Black

Erica was born with a rare disease called an arteriovenous malformation in her right leg. She is now an advocate for those with disabilities. She left the corporate world in 2016 to pursue a career as a high school English teacher and began to blog along the way. She has a BA in English Lit and minor in Creative Writing. Her writing has been featured in The Martlet, The Globe and Mail, Heroica, and more. She enjoys cats, reading, and her daughter.

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