Lorna is a qualified therapist and writer with an interest in alternative and holistic approaches to health.
My Daughter's Gift to Me
My daughter bought me a Colour Yourself Calm colouring book; even though I hadn’t coloured-in since childhood, I was totally hooked. Mandalas, by nature of their design, are very ancient guides which symbolically allow you to look into yourself as they draw your eye towards their centre. As I coloured-in these beautiful shapes, I noticed how aware I was of the present moment and how quiet and relaxed my mind became.
Colouring-in—specifically this form—can be linked to mindfulness and even has the same therapeutic benefits as meditation, leading to profound and positive changes in your lifestyle. Regardless of how many or few mandalas you colour in, the practice of centering yourself through creativity and relaxation is a great tonic for the stressed-out, anxious mind.
Over time and with practice, I began to see and feel patterns within myself, a valuable lesson as it allowed me to recognise those which may have been unhealthy or negatively impacting my life and change them. These negative thoughts become colours—colours become patterns—and these patterns awaken the soul. The stillness and relaxation I felt is linked to the mind shifting from the logical and reasoning left side of the brain to the intuitive and emotional right side of the brain.
Engaging with my inner creativity and being completely calm and focused led to a change in my outlook on life. This transformation created a deep well of happiness which I constantly drink from. As a mental health therapist, I would certainly recommend colouring-in as an aid alongside mindfulness to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Although adult colouring-in books will not bring the same benefits as completing an art therapy session with a professional, research has proved that anxiety levels drop significantly for those who use colouring-in as a tool in their anxiety management and even further drops were noted when mandalas were used. Their focus on movement, shape and centering in the present moment help alleviate free-floating anxiety.
As I do not consider myself to be an artist in the true sense of the word, I actually felt very creative after completing a mandala colouring-in. I also felt I had found a safe, contained space where I experienced feelings of tranquillity. Living in the hi-tech world of today where everything seems fleeting and chaotic, the health benefits of feeling centered are becoming even more apparent.
Alternative Activities for Meditation and Calming
If you’ve read up to this point and have been thinking to yourself, “That’s great, but I hate colouring-in” . . . don’t worry, even if colouring-in is not your thing, there are a wealth of other activities out there that can be done as an alternative with a similar calming and meditative effect.
I love walking, mainly because it is a low-impact form of exercise with the added benefit of increasing your circulation. Being out in the fresh air and at one with nature is medicine for the soul; I always have a feeling of tranquillity after a long walk in the countryside, so it is a definite must on my list of relaxing things to do.
Closely related to colouring-in is Art Therapy, which encourages the creation of art in any form; painting, music, drama and dance are but a few that you could choose from. A 2006 study found that Art Therapy for women with cancer helped to significantly decrease symptoms of physical and emotional distress during treatment. Colouring books are a first introduction to Art Therapy and for those of us who go on to enjoy other art-related activities, there is real evidence to show that all art activities are positive in terms of wellbeing and resilience.
Growing up I was surrounded by knitters. Many birthdays and Christmas presents were in the form of a hat, scarf or a really weird jumper. I can remember, in particular, a knitting day at my school where we all sat together in the assembly hall and knit squares which were then sewn together to make blankets for those in unfortunate circumstances in Africa. Coming together as a group was not only good fun but very relaxing; the fact that we were helping others also gave this pursuit purpose and a feeling of self-worth.
Research has shown that for those people who suffer from depression or anxiety, knitting encouraged feelings of happiness. Knitting is very grounding—you are forced to sit while engaging your brain to focus on the pattern. It is a great distraction from life’s everyday stresses and anxieties.
Nurturing yourself is essential to your wellbeing.
I have always loved doing a good jigsaw puzzle, and I think we have all probably experienced the joy of finding that one elusive piece after hours of searching. Completing a jigsaw puzzle is beneficial in so many ways—did you know that it puts the brain into the same mental state we experience while dreaming by naturally inducing a state of imaginative and engrossed meditation?
Studies have also found that doing jigsaw puzzles can lead to a longer life expectancy and may reduce our chances of developing memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s as we constantly have to use our memory in order to find the right pieces.
Remember to Care for Yourself
These are just a few suggestions to get you started on the path to becoming a more relaxed and mindful person. I think we can all benefit mentally and physically from any pursuit which takes us out of the world of stress and anxiety.
Remember that caring for yourself is not lazy or a waste of time, even if the lack of action makes you feel that way.
© 2018 Lorna Lamon
Lorna Lamon (author) on August 08, 2020:
I'm glad you enjoyed this article Peggy and yes it has never been more important to relax. I love coloring in and use it as a tool in practice and to unwind. I am sure your friend appreciated and enjoyed your thoughtful gift. Thank you for your lovely comments. Stay safe and keep well.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 08, 2020:
These ideas are fantastic, particularly right now, as many people are under more stress because of the pandemic. As I was reading down your list, it reminded me of a coloring book with a set of colored pencils that I gave to a dear friend who had cancer. I hope it brought her some relaxation and joy in the last months of her life.
Lorna Lamon (author) on July 24, 2020:
Glad you enjoyed this article Manuela and thank you for commenting - appreciated.
Manuela from Portugal on July 24, 2020:
I never tried mandalas but you mentioned other ways to relax that I really enjoy, like walking and jigsaw puzzles. Great article!
Lorna Lamon (author) on July 10, 2020:
Lovely to see you sowspeaks and I'm glad you enjoyed this article. These therapies are indeed very beneficial to our overall health and wellbeing. Thank you for your kind and generous comments. Take care.
sowspeaks from Bengaluru on July 10, 2020:
Hi Lorna, came across this beautiful piece of writing on wellness therapies. I love mandalas too, infact have started creating mandalas .. find them creative, still not too taxing or difficult. I feel centred and deeply calmed. I also remembered that my daughter would do her jigsaw whenever she was very angry and would feel better in a while. Thanks for sharing.
Lorna Lamon (author) on June 24, 2020:
Lovely to see you Lisha and I'm so glad you found this article helpful. Thank you for the kind comments - appreciated.
Lisha C on June 24, 2020:
I was very interested to read about colouring-in to relax one's mind. The alternative methods which you have provided also sound like great ways to become more mindful and relaxed. I can't remember the last time I did a jigsaw puzzle, I certainly did enjoy them. Thank you for sharing this helpful article, Lorna.
Lorna Lamon (author) on June 24, 2020:
Such a beautiful and touching comment Anupam. Thank you for your lovely explanation, it is very thoughful of you. Bless your lovely heart Anupam. Lots of love from Ireland.
Anupam Mitu from MUMBAI on June 24, 2020:
wonderful Lorna. More than any suggestion in your words I can feel the love you have for the people around you. You know, such people like you are never satisfied with being happy alone, they love it more when that's spread all around.
In Sanskrit there is a very famous shloka which says, 'When you add whole to the whole it will still be a whole and when you remove the whole from the whole, it remains the whole"
Like love, it's always complete, how much you add to it, it will remain complete. Also our soul, which is complete in its own.
I hope I am able to make my point, though this shloka is the essence of the knowledge of the whole universe.
Lots of love dear
Lorna Lamon (author) on April 10, 2020:
I'm still working Denise as mental health illness has increased. Luckily I can maintain contact from home which is a blessing as many of my clients are isolated. However, I do love to colour in which calms my mind. Take care and I always appreciate your comments.
Denise McGill from Fresno CA on April 10, 2020:
This is definitely the time to be working on stress relievers like jigsaw puzzles and coloring books. I have knitting projects sitting beside me at all times. I remember reading that knitting was taught to GI's recovering from war injuries in the hospitals when there was nothing for them to do but lay there and heal. It promoted calmness and well-being to have something for them to do.
Lorna Lamon (author) on December 01, 2019:
I still enjoy coloring books Devika, however, I use it as a way to relax and unwind as my job can be very stressful. I also colored in with my children and they still enjoy doing it themselves. Thanks for visiting and I'm glad you found the article useful.
Devika Primic on December 01, 2019:
I like your suggestions for good mental health. I did that when my son was three years old or even younger we had coloring books and we enjoyed doing this together.
Lorna Lamon (author) on August 16, 2019:
You are welcome Denise and I'm glad you found the article useful. Thank you for your kind comments.
Denise McGill from Fresno CA on August 15, 2019:
It totally makes sense to me that knitting and jigsaw puzzles also help. I never would have thought of them before but they are calming and demanding of a certain focus, but also repetitious in the movements. Thanks for the awesome information.
Lorna Lamon (author) on July 25, 2019:
Thank you for commenting Dream On - I believe it's all about find those things which make us happier and more relaxed in a world where there is too much chaos. I'm so glad you enjoyed the article.
DREAM ON on July 24, 2019:
I love your advice. These steps can do wonders. As a child, I loved to put twenty different squiggly lines on paper. The lines can connect or intersect other lines. Then I would slowly point out different objects out of the lines. if I was with a friend they too would have a chance to point out different things. We would write them on paper. If we had the same objects they would cancel themselves out. if they were different they would get a point. The first person to get 50 points wins. You can hold the paper in many different ways. You keep adding 3 lines each turn. I thought one day I would make it into a game. Then time got the best of me. I simply forgot. Thank you for reminding me of so many good times. Have a beautiful night.
Liz Westwood from UK on November 09, 2018:
I used to enjoy doing jigsaws. These are all therapeutic activities. Your article reminds us all of the need to take time out.