Mindfulness for Dummies (by which I mean me!)

Secret Garden Colouring Book

Mindfulness eludes me. It eludes me with the stealthiness one acquires when trying to avoid that god awful girl from school that you have no desire to speak to whilst browsing Sainsburys’ extensive tampon selection.

I’m a ridiculously type A human: highest of high maintenance, competitive, self-loathing critical and generally a bit of a pain in the arse. (Please don’t tell my husband I’ve admitted this, he’s still blissfully unaware). And I am constantly, relentlessly, exhaustingly thinking ALL THE THINGS, ALL. THE. TIME. Replaying something I wish I’d done differently. Planning something that has not yet happened. It’s fun. It NEVER stops.

How nice it would be to just live life in the here and now, appreciating each moment as it happens. Acknowledging those bastard memories and letting them go rather than ruin your day. Like managing to catch a unicorn or being in possession of the Deathly Hallows, Mindfulness is a beautiful, wonderful, magical thing. The quest for control, nay, outright domination over my mind is Odyssean and eternal. But I’m trying. Hard

I’ve attempted yoga (I get distracted easily, start a little secret competition of Who’s the Bendiest? and there’s the very real fear of unexpected wind with all the relaxing), meditation (which I can keep up for a while before drifting off to plan a career change to astronaut or wondering what that aforementioned girl from school who I never really liked anyway is up to now. I bet she’s on the Facebook…) and various breathing techniques which I really rather like doing until I realise that my lungs are rubbish and I start a little not so secret competition with myself of Longest Breath Hold. Which is not so relaxing.

Enter the humble colouring book.

I am most relaxed with my mind at its clearest when my hands are busy. When I get stuck into some knitting or get inventive in the kitchen or, now, pick up my colouring book. It’s kind of perfect for me – it’s creative, intricate, colourful and incredibly relaxing. The internal Staying Inside the Lines competition is also completely legit.

Secret Garden Joanna Basford

Inspired by the lovely Lisa  I bought my very first colouring in book last month. I then very quickly bought my second colouring in book, this one ^^. And then spent all of my spare pocket money buying colouring in books for everyone I know, particularly those people who are struggling to switch off.


Taking my colouring book and the obligatory spaniels out to the garden with a cup of tea has become my favourite sunny thing to do.  I’m not ashamed…apart from that time I told my 16 year old step-child that I like colouring in now. The look.

Are you a good switcher offer? Are you the Yoda of mindfulness?  Do you want a colouring book? Actually that’s not an empty offer. Let me know how you switch off, most creative/random/entertaining effort can have a brand new (used would be weird!) copy of Secret Garden winged to you wherever you are. An independent adjudicator – my husband – will pick a favourite this time next week.

Teach me all you know.

So ballot, much electors, very democratic
Taking Stock: Seven
  • Josie’s Journal

    I’m the opposite, I’m definitely a Type B…I think I can enjoy relaxing too much sometimes haha! But my absolute favourite way to switch off is cross stitch x

    Josie’s Journal

  • Ahaha this made me laugh out loud! I love the way you write – have I said that before? Probably.

    I seriously wish I was a ‘Yoda of Mindfulness’, and I definitely feel pressured to be one since all this ‘live in the moment’ type stuff has flooded Blogland, but sadly, I am also an A type, like yourself (my mum likes to joke that this stands for ‘Anal’ type…thanks mum).

    Everything you described about trying yoga and meditation rings totally true to me also (I lolled at the ‘wind’ part), but unfortunately I’ve always loathed colouring books since a child; I dubbed them as ‘creatively stifling’, but secretly I was just too lazy to do all that work only to not be able to call it my own. However I’ve seen a couple of bloggers now mention how it’s helping them to be more in the moment!

    I think what you said is totally accurate; my mind is also at its clearest when my hands are busy. I think the most ‘in the moment’ I’ve ever felt was when I worked as a waitress in a cafe when I was 14. I was also drinks-maker and dishwasher and it was so hectic, I didn’t have time for my mind to start wandering off.

    This is why I like cooking, making jewellery or building things. You’re so busy focused on the task at hand that you truly are in the moment and not thinking about anything else! Maybe these things should be my own form of meditation… I think that’s valid, don’t you?



  • Em

    We had a mindfulness lady come to chat to the WI…….I spent the whole time thinking about my dinner or worrying about what I had left to do at work, or the bloody hallway wallpaper that still needs stripping! I think switching off is not my go-to brain position. But randomly I got one of these colouring books at a blog event I went to at the weekend. I might have to give it a go. It even came with crayons!

  • Oh I’m constantly evaluating everything, trying to plan conversations I’m going to have, and then mentally telling myself off for being one of the most awkward people on the planet, so I feel you. There are rare occasions when I am in the mindfulnessessessess zone, but it rarely happens. I’m in my head too much.

    Like you, when my hands are busy I can be a little more mindful. Mostly my brain just wanders off into my own world, which is orbited by unicorns, cats, and books.

  • Hannah

    I just bought 2 of these colouring books a couple of weeks ago! Can’t wait for them to arrive, let the mindfulness begin!!

  • Oh ma gerd aren’t these things amazing?! I’m the same, my brain only ever shuts up when I read, and although the colouring doesn’t completely shut it up it makes the inane self chatter quieter, I am an addict 🙂 xx

  • I am a terrible switcher-offer!!! I, like you, am type A, and I must admit, a bit (a lot) of a control freak. Currently in the process of buying a house, and with all the lack of control, I think I could do with investing in this colouring book. It’s got to be healthier (and cheaper) than lots of red wine, right?!
    Sophie Cliff

  • Rosie McKay

    Must get my hands on one of these colouring books! I have a couple of colouring books which I always turn to in times of real stress. I feel they may be getting used excessively over the next few months due to taking my finals before graduating!




  • Becca

    I really want to get a colouring book now! I saw a lovely one full of animal pictures at a national trust property the other week 🙂


  • Rachael

    I totally suck at switching off and I suck even more at just not being able to be still. My mind and hands always have to be on the go. I guess that’s why I cross stitch as much as I do because it’s the one sure way to get me out of my head for a while!

  • I can’t switch off! I tried yoga and it does help but only when I do it on my own – going to a class just made me focus on what everyone else was doing. I tried an app called Headspace too which is supposed to guide you through mindfulness, but I couldn’t switch off and found his voice annoying.

    I find crochet allows me to switch off, mostly because if I don’t count and focus I’m going to completely mess up and find out half way round that I’m all out of sync and I’ve lost a stitch somewhere. Where I then usually unravel the whole thing and try another pattern (it’s always the patterns fault).

    I saw a colouring book called Animal Kingdom in Waterstones which I really want to try. Now I just need the spaniels to go with it (although maybe just one).

  • cestantina

    I wanted to try but I wasn’t sure… I think it looks so pretty indeed. My switch off moment is when I smoke a cigarette, or should I say THE cigarette. Only one a day, the most perfect moment of day! Of course smoking kills so yoga or colouring is better!


    Céline from Larry & Co.

  • I heart the idea of colouring books. My friends and I used to buy them all the time at uni. Great time-wasting activity for when you’re meant to be listening in a lecture.

    I find reading books is my best way to switch off (and THAT’s why I get through about 8 or so a month!). Baking is also a massive one for me. Partly cos the weighing of ingredients and the routine is really soothing for me, and partly cos then I get to eat cake.

    Little Miss Katy | UK Lifestyle Blog

  • I have just got The Secret Garden and have treated myself to some new pencils – turns out the ones I found from the 90s are a bit too broken.
    The way I switch off? – Go for a blast on my horses or walk the dogs somewhere really spectacular.
    Nothing can get to me when I’m flying along on my horse with the wind whipping their mane (into my eyes) or taking in the stunning scenery of the coast path with the dogs. Just the pure freedom and enjoyment of being free and in the spectacular area that we live in.

  • OOOOHHHH a colouring book?!! I have been trying (note the ‘trying’ bit) to get into mindfulness since I practically lost my mind last year. I have had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, like a bazillion times in my life, and the latest woman spoke about it. I tend to worry about the past, worry about the future, worry about worrying…you name it. I get the point of ‘if you spend all your time worrying about something that has happened/may happen, you miss the ‘now” thing, but it is effing difficult when it is imprinted into your mind to be that way. I think I am slowly getting better at implementing bits of what I have learnt but, bloody hell, it is HARD WORK. Support group? (…just off to get a colouring book!)xx

  • Milica

    Seriously, I’m such a bad switch-offer. But I love that coloring book x
    Much Love | Trillu

  • I love adult colouring in books for switching off, I was colouring in just a few hours ago as a break from things. It’s perfect for switching off xx

    Ioanna | Hearting.co.uk

  • Lou Duffy

    I did a post on mine the other day! I’m waiting on the Enchanted Forest one coming from Amazon! May have to get myself some pens too for when I sharpen my pencils to death! Lx

  • ah yes to the all of the things all of the time – such a wonderful habit isn’t it, so gloriously unproductive too, despite initial appearances! My foray into running is helping, I think because it is so new and difficult that I simply can’t think about anything other than counting down the seconds until I can walk/hobble again. Yoga in short bursts but then I get bored. Actual meditation I find, like you, I either start thinking about everything else, somewhat missing the point, or nod off – although seem of the breathing exercises I do find helpful. Colouring books look wonderful, I have been getting very lost in the doodles I have been doing for my word of the week posts, and look forward to those five minutes on a Friday, so perhaps I should acquire a book!

  • Helen

    I too am terrible for constantly rehashing things that have happened or micro planning future events. The best way I’ve found to switch off is trapeze — nothing like hanging upside down to clear the mind!

  • Kerri

    I saw Lou’s post the other week about her book and I went to take a peek on Amazon. I think it’s still sitting in the basket haha, I just didn’t get around to actually purchasing it. I’m not sure where I would find the time to fit some colouring in in, but I always have the desire to buy it just so I can whip it out at work and be like “you people be driving me crazy, I’m going to go colour some flowers”.

    I’m not a switcher off-er. I suck at it. Usually, I just go go go until my brain just turns itself off and then I just turn into a zombie for a while. Then I like to sit in the bottom of the shower (I don’t have a bath) and still my foot over the plug hole and just sit there. I’m my pathetic make do bath. Which is actually better than a bath, since I hate them and the fear of drowning is a lot less in my shower bath.

  • Samantha

    I feel like I could have written this post, it’s so spot on to how I feel a lot of the time. I chew things over in my mind, especially when I have kept my mouth shut and then kicked myself later. Urgh. I really need to work on that.

    I am also trying to get into yoga but I find it so hard not to compare myself, I also really need to work on that.

    Obviously what I need is a colouring book. where did you get yours?

  • Making jewellery sounds like a brilliant way to switch off – requires full concentration and you get something pretty at the end of it.
    If I was any good at actual drawing I suspect I’d be frustrated by colouring in too…but I’m not so all I need from it is the escape and it’s parfait.
    M x

  • Ha, I *think* I’d prefer to be a type B! But I guess I do get a LOT of stuff done, maybe A isn’t so bad.
    I used to LOVE a bit of cross stitch but haven’t done any for ages. It’s very relaxing…or it used to be at least.

    M x

  • Haha, that’s the general gist of it – think about ANYTHING else.
    I would definitely recommend a quick colour in. It’s odd but brilliant. But has it become a ‘cool’ thing now? A bit hipster, trendy if you will? Hmm.
    M x

  • I quite fancy a little holiday to your world with the unicorns and the books. Even the cats I guess.
    It’s so difficult to get out of your head isn’t it? Sometimes I catch my mind about a million miles away from the relaxing zen it’s supposed to be in and literally have no clue about how it got there.
    M x

  • Have you had a go yet? I do love it. A bit too much.
    M x

  • SO GOOD! Anything to slow those brain waves down, I’m with you dude.
    M x

  • Husband and I recognise the house buying pain so you can have this wonderful colouring book if you like? Although it is no substitute for wine. Let that be known.
    Drop me an email with where to send it and I’ll get it on the way. MASSIVE good luck with the house buying, stressful and chaotic but SO worth it.
    M x

  • Oh exciting but super stressful times for you Rosie! Good luck with the exams and revision, sending you all the good luck.
    M x

  • Animals sound pretty amazing!! I think I’d love that.
    Would 100% recommend it.
    M x

  • I really should pick up a bit of cross stitch again – I haven’t tried for such a long time though, is it something I’m likely to have lost? Probably best if I have, if I have to concentrate then all the better for quiet minds.
    M x

  • That’s exactly why I knit – I’m so rubbish at it still that I have to concentrate very hard to do it properly, no brain space for worrying, over thinking or general stressing about.
    One spaniel is enough for any sane person who wishes to remain that way.
    M x

  • Aaah, all is revealed! Books are an amazing escape, I just never feel like I have enough time to get stuck into one – I can pick up a bit of colouring or knit a few lines in a couple of minutes and restore my zen.
    I can’t bake though. It’s too precise, I get scared.
    M x

  • WAHOOOOO! How are you getting on with it?
    Surprisingly I’m with you on the dog walking and you’ve sold horse riding pretty well…just need me a horse…
    M x

  • Ha, I’ve never been a smoker but I’m happy you have *something* that helps you switch off.
    Yoga doesnt kill immediately but the legs feel a bit like dying afterwards..
    M x

  • Worrying is a heinous, sadistic bastard who just wants to watch us all combust. Do you feel like you’re making progress with it? It’s a dark art.
    M x

  • So great huh? Really good for the tuning out.
    M x

  • I’m so bloody happy I discovered the joy of it. Rediscovered I guess.
    M x

  • Ha, I saw your post and your most artistic pencil sharpening shot!
    Shall we set up some kind of colouring in yoga? I think it would be a winner.
    M x

  • Doodling sounds like a brilliant way to lose yourself for a bit.
    Meditation is a definite skill I think, like following a recipe or patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. Sodding well hard.
    M x

  • Trapeze is the absolute best suggestion I’ve heard. Probably ever.
    Toddling off to find me a spare branch or passing circus.
    M x

  • The colleague affronting potential alone is worth the purchase.
    That is quite the picture you paint there, have you been spying on me again? We’ve just replaced the shower and shallow bath with a deeper one though so the fear of drowning just became one more thing to think about…
    M x

  • It’s ridiculous really isn’t it? We have no power whatsoever to change what’s happened or really to influence much coming up that’s outside our little spheres of control. But we’ll always have colouring in. There’s always that.
    This one came from Amazon, I think there’s a link up there somewhere ^^
    M x

  • Rachael

    It’s pretty much like riding a bike. I had a big gap of a couple of years through my teens into university were I barely picked it up and got back into it just fine. Probably with more determination for making up all the time I lost!

  • Kerri

    I’m sure the risk of drowning in the bath isn’t even that high… right?!

  • You are SO super duper kind <3 I messaged you my deets on Twitter – you have made my week you lovely thing x

  • Lisa and Stella

    So happy to have inspired this habit in you lovely girl 🙂
    I know it’s most relaxing because Stella lets me do it without feeling a need to sit on me, throw something at me, Paddington stare at me, or cold-nose me. Any vaguely electronic distraction induces very stroppy behaviour. Plus it’s infinitely easier to put down a pencil than to pause CSI so I can throw a ball for only to have her not fetch it!
    I forgot how much you have to concentrate to not colour outside the lines though. Pinpoint sharp pencils seems to be the answer but doing all the sharpening is giving me carpal tunnel syndrome! 😉
    Enjoy your sunny mindful days xox

  • Hannah

    Yup, loving it! A nice little escape from everything 🙂

  • Hannah

    I thought I replied to you already but Disqus is telling me I did not! Yes I’ve had a go and really enjoy it 🙂 it’s definitely a nice escape from all the thoughts

  • Jess

    i loved everything about this post!! <3 so excited for my book to arrive now, *hurry up amazon*.xx