As long as I have had anxiety I have been looking for a way to combat the anxious thoughts, to distract myself out of the feelings of fear and panic.
I have tried all kinds of things over the years. In the early days it a was cross stitch patterns, ultimately when you are trying to get Winnie the Pooh’s nose in the right place it’s hard for the anxious thoughts squeeze in! Then I moved to the mobile phone game, always got it with you and a good distraction. I was a big fan of snake! Then came social media, a peep into other people’s lives is a great distraction, once mobile internet came along I could distract myself pretty much anywhere. Then I had a panic attack on the tube – no signal for social media and the battery was too low to risk playing games (what if I needed to make that call to my friend to talk me down from the panic?), so I am still searching for the ultimate anywhere distraction.
In early 2014, I was chatting to a friend of mine who told me she bought herself colouring books when she got them for her children. When the kids were doing their colouring in, she joined in and she found it very relaxing. In Mid 2014 I read an article in the paper about the ‘Adult Colouring Book’ and how it was being used by adults for stress relief, escapism and mindfulness, perhaps it would work for me? So I went out and bought me one of these lovely books, some shiny new pencils to colour them in with, and retreated to my desk for a few hours. I did find them a good distraction and worked my way through quite a few pages.
I was made aware (via Twitter) of some new colouring books designed specifically for use as a mindfulness tool – The Colour me Mindful range of books by Anastasia Catris published by Orion. With three books to choose from including Birds, Tropical and Underwater there is plenty of scope to find something that you like. These books come in at only £4.99 each, with each book containing 50 designs, seemed excellent value for money. I was lucky enough to be offered a sneaky peak of these new books, which are available from 30th July.
I got my pens and pencils out and got colouring. Unlike the books I had bought before, the designs within are perhaps a little less intricate – which for me was a huge bonus as I sometimes got more stressed that trying to get the colouring perfect than the calm state I was anticipating! The other great thing about the Colour me Mindful range is the size of the book. I spend a lot of my time travelling for work on ferries, planes and trains, which as someone with anxiety can be a stressful experience. These books fit easily in my work bag, they are smaller and lighter than my notebook which makes them ideal for mindfulness on the move! I found that getting my colouring book out and listening to a podcast was a great way to fill the time on a late night ferry and left me calm and ready for bed by the time I reached home.
Each of the books has a short introduction about mindfulness, which is great for those less familiar with the term. My favourite bit about this range of books is that they have their own hashtag! You are encouraged to colour and share on #colourmemindful, which links nicely with my old anxiety habit of looking at social media. I am really looking forward to seeing what other mindfulness colourers come up with, perhaps building an online community of people like me.
The adult colouring book is a great tool for my anxiety busting arsenal. It is great that the adult colouring book market is continuing to grow. That with the use of the hashtag and a mobile phone camera something that is possibly the epitome of analogue can build a digital presence, and hopefully a community of colourers!