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DBT Mindfulness “What” Skills: Coloring Books for Adults

Updated August, 2021

Mindfulness doesn’t need to be all sitting alone and trying to concentrate! Those of us who have very active minds and bodies sometimes need a focal point and a chance to engage our bodies and hearts in order to feel relaxed. That’s fine, no need to feel pressured to be a certain way!

Coloring is a way to practice mindfulness. You can incorporate the DBT mindfulness “What” skills of Observe, Describe and Participate into mindful coloring in order to help your mind and body fully be in the moment.

DBT “What” Skills of Mindfulness


It’s simple. Just observe how you feel, inside and out as you use the art materials. How do the pencils feel as they glide across the paper? How do you feel about the colors? Do some colors make you feel sad? How do you feel as you color the smaller spaces? Impatient? Do you want to rush through this to get to something else? Just observe and don’t judge yourself.


As you observe how you feel while coloring, put labels or words to your experience. When a feeling arises, name or label it. Oh, I feel a pleasant sensation as the pencil glides across the paper, its satisfying. Oh, I feel impatient with the small spaces, oh i love the larger spaces! If you have a negative thoughts, just label them and move on, without judging yourself. This way you can tease apart all the thoughts and emotions you may be having, rather than leaving them all jumbled up in a nameless ball.


And, finally, allow yourself to be absorbed in the activities of coloring. Let the healthy mindbody state of flow take over as you choose colors, feel the art medium across the papers and experience the act of creating. Let your state of wise mind flow.

I love the intricacies of the designs of adult coloring books! There are so many to choose from, it’s easy to find one you can attach yourself to. Use it at lunchtime on a stressful day, to move away from everybody’s collective, obsessive work worries. Or use one to relax at bedtime, put down your electronic devices and wind down naturally so you’ll sleep better.

I love the meditative action of slowly filling in the colors and the creative flow of using all different colors together in a pleasing arrangement. I love the feel of smooth colored pencils as they glide across the paper.

Here’s a list of some of the coloring books that I actually own and use!

Dazzling Dogs – For the dog lover! Many cute pictures with pretty small areas to color. Such small spaces are definitely not suitable for children, more for adults! They publish a notebook too!

I love poodles! As you all know, I’ve had poodles for many years! I lost two of my fun, cuddle and intelligent mini poodles in January and February 2019, and this is a great tribute to them!

Harmony of Nature is a wonderful book with birds such as owls, sparrows and parrots and foxes and squirrels all depicted in a native habitat…shrubs, trees and flowers!

Art Nouveau Animal Designs has a collection of peacocks, horses, fish, and primates in small designs, not suitable for children.

Japanese Designs is a nice collection of flowers and bird and fish that I meditate on between clients.

Moods in Motion by Karen Kleiman, LCSW, is on message. Mental health message, that is. It’s a collection of meditative coloring pages with meaningful mental health prompts for the new mom, and an area to journal your thoughts for the day. Great for centering yourself when you get a few moments on a busy day.

Creative Haven Dream Horses has to be my favorite book! There are beautiful pictures of the most beautiful and loving creatures on earth! Strong and gently horses!

Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Designs by Pat Woods has floral designs and unicorn and elephants! A great way to lose yourself at lunchtime in colors on a stressful day!

Stress Less Coloring Mandalas is a wonderful compilation of coloring in a circular manner.

There are lots of free mandalas available online for downloading!

Happy meditative coloring!

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