Lake | 12. May, 2021 - 3 min read

Breathe in, color out.

A few thoughts on how to survive this stressful time and how mindful coloring can help you find your inner Zen.

This past year hit us pretty hard. The pandemic and many other unsettling situations have turned our world upside down and made our reality even more fragile and vulnerable. We are anxious, tired, and caught up in the grip of this strange suspense. It sure is scary, but we should steadily remind each other it’s not forever. Rather than giving up, this is the time to keep on going, loving, and creating, as this is what can give us certainty and calmness in these somewhat uncertain times. And talking about creativity, we tend to forget that it’s a fundamental aspect of our lives that can help us flourish, survive, and strive - and bring us back home.

Do you remember coloring? That beautiful and carefree activity that enriched our childhood, kept us calm, entertained us, and gave us endless hours of creation. Thanks to its therapeutic elements, coloring has been experiencing a well-deserved revival among adults who welcomed this “new old” trend above all expectations for the last few years. No wonder why. Coloring can successfully help adults with de-stressing and achieving mindfulness, but the reason for that is not as ethereal as it is scientific. The basic, repetitive motions and tasks that are involved in coloring engage parts of the cerebral cortex while relaxing the amygdala - the brain’s fear center - and allow your mind to get some well-deserved rest. Even if it may sound too simple, achieving mindfulness through coloring is luckily far from impossible.

Artwork by Lali Ruggeri

But what does mindfulness even mean? Mindfulness is a well-known technique extracted from Buddhism and is based on bringing your attention to what is happening in the present moment. Ergo, mindful coloring means staying present and being aware of all the feelings and sensations that are happening while coloring. In a way, it’s similar to meditation, helping us let go of intrusive thoughts to connect our body and mind.

While many people, including myself, struggle to practice mediation and tame our wandering minds, coloring really does the trick for people like us by switching our brains off and gently guiding us into being present. As you focus on the details you are coloring, the brain disregards the flow of negative thoughts and lets you enjoy the calm within.

Mindful coloring distracts us from the daily buzz and rewards us with many benefits, which is especially appreciated when we are overstressed or emotionally overwhelmed. Besides, it nurtures imagination and revives our forgotten creativity, whether or not we have actual artistic talent.

Not all hobbies can be pursued anytime and anywhere, but coloring sure can. The beauty of coloring is also that it can be done by everyone regardless of age, gender or profession. Not to mention that you need no special skills or talents to indulge in coloring, as there is no right or wrong way of doing it.

It’s never easy the first time around, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t reach the full experience immediately. Practice makes perfect, and this also applies to mindful coloring. Taking some self-care time and committing to a daily coloring routine may help you get there swiftly and will let you carefully observe your journey through all the colors of the rainbow.

Coloring is a tender, simple and extraordinary way to bring mindfulness into your life. But that’s not all - it also has the magical power of teaching us how to be playful again and connecting us with those carefree feelings that only little children experience - and that alone is reason enough to let coloring in your life again.

Artwork by Sandra Martins