Mindfulness: A Key Tool to Less Stress

Sarah Buttle

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Mindfulness: A Key Tool to Less Stress

Colouring books are no longer just for children

What started as a niche hobby, adult colouring books have now turned into a global trend. Adult colouring books, a form of escapism working from the principles of mindfulness, now find themselves on more and more bestsellers’ lists throughout the world.

The question is, where did this concept of using colouring as a stress reliever originate from?

Albert Taylor and Susann Herrman, authors of ‘The Rough Guide to Mindfulness’ explain how mindfulness has only recently been broadly embraced in the West since the 20th century. That it is an ancient practice found in a wide range of eastern philosophies, including Buddhism, Taoism and Hinduism, as well as Christianity.

Taylor and Herrman explain in their book how many of us spend most of our lives focused either on the past or on the future, paying very little attention to what is happening in the present. This means that we may be unaware of much of our experiences most of the time.

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photo taken by Sarah Buttle

The UK Mental Health Foundation estimated that one in six people each week experience a common mental health problem. The art that is mindfulness may help as it involves being consciously bringing awareness to the here and now, and it is for anybody who wants to become more aware of themselves.

Mindfulness is the practice of staying in the moment, spending more time present to ourselves, and our surroundings. Not trying to change these things but trying instead to accept the way that things are, Taylor & Herrman

In 2015, an estimated 12 million adult colouring books were sold in the United States, according to Nielsen Bookscan. In 2015 leading e-commerce retailer, Amazon, announced their top ten best-selling books, three of which were adult colouring books.

However, while this craze may be an enjoyable way to pass the time and a nostalgic remembrance of our childhood, it is the books therapeutic properties that espically have them flying off shelves.

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is a mental health profession in which the process of creating artwork is used to explore feelings and foster self-awareness. It also helps you manage behaviors, increase social skills, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem.

Similar to meditation, colouring also allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and concentrate only on the moment. It can be particularly applicable for people who are not comfortable with more creatively expressive forms of art. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 59% of adults in Britain say they are more stressed today than they were five years ago.

Although the world has branded these books as a ‘trend’, it is by no means a new concept. In 1962, adult colouring books made The New York Times bestsellers list. Such celebrities like Barbra Streisand got inspiration from the anti-stress books for song lyrics.

Mindfulness is about finding ways to slow down and pay attention to the present moment, which improves performance and lowers stress, Taylor & Herrman

Written by two leading practitioners in the field, ‘The Rough Guide to Mindfulness’ by Albert Taylor and Susann Herrman, provides the reader with plenty of guidance, and also teaches how to practice mindfulness in any situation.

It highlights the latest findings from health experts and scientists on the benefits of mindfulness, such as boosting energy, confidence and self-control. You can purchase this book at Easons Bookstore for €14.

‘The Mindfulness Journal’ written by psychologist, psychotherapist and author Corinne Sweet, helps you record your thoughts and offers an introduction to mindfulness and easy exercises that can be done where ever you are. Beautifully illustrated, this journal is available at Easons Bookstore for also €14.

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Photo taken by Sarah Buttle. Harry Potter Colouring Book by Studio Press, An Anti-Stress Colouring Book by Michael O’Mara Books ltd and The Geometric Mediations Colouring Book from Jenean Morrison Adult Colouring

Although we can disclose that colouring books have been a success as a hobby, I got the chance to speak to Demelza Lett, who is a counsellor and psychotherapist in Co. Wexford, for her professional opinion on the craze.

Demelza previously worked as a counsellor for It’s Good to Talk Counselling Support and is now working for Touched by Suicide as a psychotherapist. She explained how colouring books are a convenient way to relieve daily stressors.

A question that I asked was, could anybody try this and she assured me that each and every one of us is capable of taking part, as there is no right or wrong way to colour. This is unlike other stress-relieves, such as meditation.

“Some people find it hard to meditate. Meditation is the art of entering a state of deep peace that happens when the mind is calm and silent. For some people it can act as a tool to let go of the constant chatter in their heads. Colouring books do this very thing”, Demelza Murphy Lett

Work related stress, anxiety and depression statistics in Great Britain where released this year by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). It found that in 2015/16 stress accounted for 37% of all work related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health.

The HSE Ireland suggests on their website many ways that you can ease the symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder yourself, such as: exercise, healthy diet and relaxation. I asked Demelza how she feels adult colouring books can help daily stressors and anxieties that inhibit people from part taking in normal daily tasks.

“Colouring books induce the meditative state, which then helps one to relax and be mindful of themselves in that present moment”, Demelza Murphy Lett

For more information on how to be mindful you can visit www.aware.ie/mindfulness‎. For more information on generalised anxiety disorder you can visit the HSE Ireland website, where you can search different health problems from a list of A-Z at http://www.hse.ie.

If you enjoyed reading this post then I would encourage you to read my feature on ‘Emotional Intelligence‘ and also my discoveries of ‘The Changeable Brain’, all published and available on thecircular.org. Enjoy!

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Sarah Buttle

Mental Health Youth Advisers for the Milestone Study