Colouring In And ADHD

The benefits colouring in can bring Adults with ADHD is huge!

Ten reasons why I love colouring in by Renaissance Life Therapies:

  1. Lowers anxiety levels and promotes calm
  2. Colouring-in can also reduce the stress hormone, cortisol
  3. Combat insomnia, and aids restful sleep
  4. increases levels of serotonin, the lack of which can lead to depression
  5. Reduces blood pressure
  6. Relieves headaches
  7. Stabilises mood
  8. Helps structure routine
  9. Decreases impulsive behaviours, allowing for considered decision making
  10. Increases your attention span and allow for better focus
As a therapeutic life coach, a huge percentage of my client work, is involved in working with adults, also managing ADHD and ADD.
As an adult managing chronic ADHD myself, I have found colouring in to be an excellent tool, not only for me, but for a number of my clients.  Colouring can be the perfect relaxation tool, giving you enough time to reduce anxiety levels or take you away from a highly stressed state, as the action requires the mind to focus on the present moment.  Colouring can help us to experience clarity of the mind more easily.

Because colouring in requires focus, it is quite an active meditative state, quite different to the traditional sitting or lying still type.  But the advantages and benefits are the same. You are completely in the moment, not ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.  There is also, and this is probably quite significant, no element of competition or possible failure.  In an age of social media, simply sitting still is also seldom an option, as the temptations to text or Tweet or send emails is too great.  But by just grabbing some pencils, and colouring in a pattern, a drawing, or anything you wish, you really can achieve a deep relaxation and meditative state.

Different parts of the brain are engaged during the process.  Sweeping a brush across a canvas requires motor skills. Drawing something from memory for example, requires analytic and sequential operations, logic, and abstraction.  Working through the sequence of steps needed to complete a colouring-in task requires attention skills and working memory.

For me personally, colouring in, is an active meditation session.  Sitting down with a traditional piece of paper and colouring pens, provides a wonderful escape from the modern world.  Detaching from the modern world, leaving behind the all the distractions of social media and various technological devices, stress and anxiety melt away, as you focus on, living in the moment.

A recent client had come to see me about managing her insomnia.  She remained undiagnosed until her early forties, despite having the neurological condition, her entire life.  She had been experiencing insomnia for as long as she could remember, but more recently this issue had become an even greater problem. Her anxiety levels soared, when she realised it was time for bed.  Just putting on her pyjamas caused a fight or flight adrenaline rush, even though she would be shattered, and had been nodding off on the sofa five minutes before.  I asked her to make time in the evenings, for a half an hour of colouring in, and to do the activity before the point she became over tired and would normally nod off on the sofa.  The following week she came to her appointment, and shared with me, that she had never slept so well.  She no longer sees me, as her insomnia is no longer an issue.  With the smallest bit of effort, it can change the quality of someone’s life enormously.

A colouring-in activity, such as colouring a mandala (a circle design with geometric patterns), before a group activity has been shown to increase an individual’s attention span and decrease impulsive behaviour, promoting better decision-making and focus during tasks.  Focus on the process of what your doing, not the final product. The goal is not perfection or even what the end result is.  It’s about enjoying the moment and reaping the rewards.  Without any effort, stress, anxiety, poor moods are replaced with calm, relaxation, and a much more enjoyable mood.  The routine of these tasks is also critical to managing impulsive behaviour.

If like me, you find being presented with a vast array of colours etc, a bit of a problem,then just stick with a few basics. Some people may find having too many choices of art materials, overwhelming. So, a good rule of thumb, is to start with just a handful of materials, more can be added later.

Remember, to always keep in mind, the end result is not important, as all the benefits are brought about by the actual activity itself!  Don’t get caught up in the finished piece as this can bring about further problems, like obsessive behaviours, perfectionism, and the loss of relaxation.

Get into a routine, as this daily exercise will also bring about the positives that routines afford us. Use anything to colour in if you wish, but personally, I love mandalas, as these usually take me around thirty minutes to complete, which is perfect!