Mindfulness is the deliberate practice of paying close attention to what is happening in the present moment without making judgments about any thoughts, emotions, or distractions.
In the first experiment, scientists analyzed the effect of coloring in combination with mindfulness on the well-being of university students. They divided 72 participants into two groups. One group received a coloring page and instructions on how to practice mindfulness while coloring.
The instructions included instructions on how to relax the body, focus on the task and the sensation of painting, and what to do if they found their mind “wandering” in thought. The other group just colored without any instruction on mindfulness.
After the session, the instructional group reported feeling less anxious and more focused after coloring. The other group did not experience similar benefits.
“This suggests that paying attention while coloring can help reduce anxiety. However, some people did not like having instructions while coloring, which reduced the benefits of mindful coloring,” the researchers note.
In another experiment, scientists investigated the effect of using videos to teach conscious coloring on 35 teachers from Great Britain.
Participants were divided into two groups. One group painted every day for five days. The other group continued their work week as usual.
Teachers who practiced mindful coloring reported feeling less stressed, more attentive, and more resilient. An instructional video on mindful coloring before the session may have helped participants to benefit from this.
In a third experiment, the scientists investigated whether mindful coloring provided the same benefits as traditional meditation practices.
They compared mindful coloring to a type of meditation practice called loving-kindness meditation. Usually, this type of meditation helps to develop kindness by focusing on sending good wishes or thoughts to yourself and others. It is said to improve well-being and reduce stress.
Scientists divided 180 participants into two groups. One group received a coloring book and instructions on how to color while feeling love and kindness. Another was taught to practice love and kindness meditation.
The results showed that coloring and loving-kindness meditation were equally good at helping people be more mindful and less anxious.
“This means that mindful coloring may work as well as meditation to reduce anxiety,” the researchers said.