15 alternatives to adult colouring books

Adult colouring books have grown significantly in popularity. But maybe you have found that they don’t work for you or you have become bored of them. If so, don’t worry: I have fifteen alternatives to adult colouring books right here!

1) Origami

Lose yourself in the art of folding! Origami can be incredibly mindful … and sometimes, I admit, a little bit tricky. But the complexities are balanced out by the beautiful things you can create and the sense of satisfaction that can be gained as you improve your folding skills.

If you want to really immerse yourself in the mindfulness of folding then this beautiful little book is a great starting point: Buddhist Origami: 15 Easy-to-make symbols to bring peace, wisdom and harmony to your home. Each project explains the meaning behind the symbol so your origami art can act as a contemplative object once you’ve finished!

I can also recommend a great little film on origami to help you appreciate the amazing world of paper folding. It’s called Between the Folds and you can watch the trailer here. An absolutely fascinating documentary!

2) Yo-Yos

Yo-Yos might not seem the most obvious alternative to colouring books for adults but I think they could surprise you! I got my yo-yo from Wilkos on a bit of an impulse but was amazed at how calming I found it. If you don’t believe me then have a look at this post on yo-yoing as meditation!

3) Sewing

Sewing is another one that can fall into the category of mindful and sometimes very annoying! If you’re having one of those days where the needle becomes unthreaded a thousand times then it may not be that stress-relieving. But get in the groove and it can be very relaxing. If you want to start with a relatively simple project then I have a great little tissue holder coming up for you. This project is not only fun to make but it also makes a great gift!

4) Create your own art

Now I promise that you don’t need to be good at art to enjoy the mindful effects of this colouring books alternative! If you don’t trust your creative instincts, there are some great tutorials on how to create something that is beautiful and allows a sense of achievement. For example, why not check out Kathryn Costa’s 100 Mandala Challenge.

5) Cooking

This is not any cooking. No, this needs to be cooking that engages all the senses. Think picking leaves off fresh herbs with the amazing scents that creates – thyme is particularly lovely for this I feel. If you prefer something a little sweeter, perhaps have a go at jam making. This is, I confess, something I haven’t personally tried but I am told that it is impossible to feel unhappy when making jam! Maybe one day I will put that to the test and let you know how I get on.

6) Jigsaw puzzles

This is a good straightforward alternative to colouring (depending on the puzzle you choose). Plus it doesn’t need to cost much money at all as you can often pick up a puzzle fairly cheaply at a charity shop. I think it makes a lovely addition to a mindful moments box.

7) Gardening

I used to have a little allotment strip as part of a scheme encouraging people to grow their own food. There may be similar projects in your area where you can indulge in some gardening fun. If you don’t have a garden or access to any outdoor space then you can expand your collection of houseplants. Poppy Deyes’ blog provides lots of inspiration in this area. Here are three of her posts to get you started.

8) Green cleaning

Believe it or not if you get yourself in the right mindset then cleaning can be as mindful and therapeutic as colouring! Personally I struggle to get into the zone for this one but one thing that can help me out is making my cleaning as green as possible. Think aromatherapy oils, homemade cleaning products in beautiful glass bottles and a cute metal cleaning caddy. Plus the rewards are great: a peaceful, decluttered, calm environment in which to enjoy other alternatives to adult colouring books!

9) Walking

This might feel a bit less creative than colouring but it’s a great way to combine mindfulness with some exercise! Below Adam Ford, author of The Art of Mindful Walking, discusses the origins of mindfulness and it’s application in a modern world.

10) Make a pinch pot

This colouring books alternative is another for which you want to head over to Poppy Deyes’ blog. Her post on making your own Marble Pinch Pot is a delight. Once you have mastered pinch pots then you can try other clay-related objects  – Poppy also had a go at a couple of candle holders and some little dishes to hold her salt and pepper!

11) Chant

I promise you don’t need to do this in public but chanting, singing or some other form of musical activity can sweep you into moment-to-moment existence. Singing skills are not required necessarily so if you want to give this a go then why not take a look at this book on Tibetan Sound Healing, which comes with an audio guide too! Available via Kindle and with a link to enable you to access the audio files online then you can get going straight away!

If you do fancy combining your sound-creating endeavours with some socialising then there is likely to be a local choir you could try or you could find yourself a teacher to help you find your voice (either vocally or instrumentally). Scales and technical exercises are particularly good for mindfulness I find … at least they are once you know them!

12) Stone balancing

Stone balancing, which is as it is described, is a new discovery for me. Michael Grab of Gravity Glue explains that in his experience a core non-physical element of stone balancing is meditation.

… it helps to breathe slowly, clear the mind, and relax, while remaining alert. Something to note: this meditate state seems also a natural symptom of feeling for balancing points. Achieving a challenging balance requires patience, and becoming fully in touch with NOW … The trick I’ve found is to PLAY and experiment. Start simple. Step by step, add complications if you feel. (Source: About Gravity Glue)

Demonstrating this patience on an epic scale, you can watch the mind-bogglingly amazing Adrian Gray balancing a ten-tonne sculpture. If you’re inspired by this or Michael Grab’s beautiful photographs to have a go at something on a more modest scale then have a look at Peter Juhl’s book, Center of Gravity: A guide to the practice of rock balancing. One reader commented: “Within hours he [Dad] was balancing his own rocks, I think it really helped him in a meditative way”. So as well as being amazing for you, this could be a great present for people who are more into problem-solving than colouring! Juhl has also written a very interesting article on sculpture in the moment, which you can find on his website. And I have one final video that explains the art of rock balancing … I have to confess I have become a bit obsessed with this art form! Beautiful.

13) Knitting

Now this does have the potential to be annoying if it’s going wrong. However, mix in a fireplace, armchair, cups of tea, maybe some friends, perhaps some cake … it could really put you in touch with your sense of hygge! And you know what I’m going to say don’t you … you can end up with some really cute things. A water bottle cover makes a nice easy starter project or you could go for something more challenging and make yourself a jumper? That should keep you mindful for months!

14) Bullet journal

If you’ve not discovered bullet journalling yet then this one could be for you. Few things relax me as much as bullet journalling and it’s productive too! In its original form, the system developed by Ryder Carroll is a fairly colourless affair, although no less brilliant or mindful for that. But people have taken the theory behind it and turned it into an art form! This is a little like colouring but more personal and purposeful. If drawing isn’t your thing then there are lots of stickers you can get for bullet journals and beautiful washi tapes for decoration too.

15) Watching other people be mindful

If you’re all out of energy then sometimes it can be quite nice just to spend a little time wrapped in a blanket watching other people being mindful. After watching the Book Castle’s beautiful video below you might even get inspired to do some mindful colouring! But in case you’re still not convinced then jump ahead for my final alternatives to adult colouring books.

Final alternatives to adult colouring books

Adult colouring books encourage us to be in the moment, indulge in a task completely and switch our brains to calm mode. Believe it or not, it is possible to achieve this state in our everyday activities. So a final alternative to adult colouring books doesn’t involve anything special at all but just a reminder that it is possible to do everything mindfully.

Whether it be the washing up or a data entry task at work, sinking into something and staying present in the moment is a skill you can develop. Adult colouring books provide a reminder of the importance of this type of self-care but don’t feel that a calm headspace needs to be limited to pockets of your day.

I am sure there are lots of other brilliant alternatives out there and would love to hear what helps you when you need a moment of engaged calm. Let me know in the comments below.

3 thoughts on “15 alternatives to adult colouring books

    1. Thank you. Yes, origami can be a bit challenging but it’s so satisfying when it does work! And I do think that often it’s the instructions to blame when it does go wrong … maybe they were rubbish rather than you?! 🙂

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