Now that adult ‘mindfulness’ colouring books are nudging out serious titles from the bestseller lists, it might be safe to call it out. Here goes: mindfulness is mainstream. (Well, at least the colouring-in books are.)
So, what’s going on?
In short, mindfulness encourages us to slow down, focus on the present and accept things as they are. When we do this, we are less distracted by the future and the past – which can often induce worry and anxiety and stop us from enjoying the moment. Mindfulness allows us to respond, rather than react, to situations.
But although the mindfulness movement is fairly recent, it's actually rooted in ancient eastern wisdom and is thousands of years old. And now modern western health is embracing it: the UK National Health Scheme even recommends mindfulness programs to help with stress release, chronic pain, anxiety and depression. But does mindfulness really live up to the hype? Science says ‘Yes!’
The American Psychological Association conducted a review of the and found that just some of the many benefits of mindfulness were:
- Reduced rumination (the psychological term for continuously thinking about situations and things that are upsetting you)
- Reduced stress, depression and anxiety
- Improved focus and working memory (the ability to recall and use relevant information)
- Improved immune function (resistance to disease).
Another great benefit is that anyone can be mindful, anywhere. No special equipment or training required.
One of the more traditional ways to be mindful is to meditate. Whether sitting down, on a chair or cushion, or even lying down, mindful meditation is about stopping for a moment and just concentrating on your breathing while observing (but not reacting to) any thoughts or feelings that come into the mind.
But you can practice mindfulness in nearly everything you do: next time you eat a piece of fruit, take your time and focus on the feel, smell, taste and sensation of chewing – there you go: mindful eating. When you next go for a walk, focus on the stretch and movement of your muscles, the sensation of your feet touching and leaving the ground and the way your arms swing – that’s mindful walking. How about mindful tooth brushing or even mindful washing up?
And that’s where the adult colouring book craze comes in. After all, it requires focussed attention to fill those intricate patterns with colour and stay within the lines!
Everyone it seems, even those who are feeling pretty relaxed and chilled, might benefit from mindfulness. Especially, if it helps us reconnect with simple pleasures in life. Like colouring-in.
Here's a colouring-in sheet to try it out for yourself. Have a go and let us know what you think. Feeling more relaxed? Email us your handy-work or send an Instagram pic to @betterhealthgov so we can share it.
Rob is an award-winning writer, blogger and app developer and one of the newest members of the BHC team. Interested in mind/body connections for good health, he’s a keen meditator, yogi, dog-walker and chillaxer.