We all have engaged in doodling from time to time, whether it was when you were in the midst of an ultra-boring meeting or you were trying to stay awake in class after a night of partying. The proof is right there, in the middle of your notes and the back of your notebooks. Sometimes we also engage in doodling when we are trying to work out a problem in our heads. However, what you may not be aware of is doodling therapy.
Did you know that doodling can help you with your anxiety? Yes! the most overlooked art form ever can reduce your feelings of anxiousness and uncertainty. Anxiety affects us all at some point or the other. The constant weight of demands, pressures from society and work takes a huge toll on our mental well-being. It is impossible to go through life without a coping mechanism in place like doodling therapy.
Even though doodling is viewed as a whimsical and mindless pastime, doodling can ease your anxiety. The simple act of sketching absent-minded patterns on a notebook can be your therapeutic refuge. How? Why? Are these the questions in your mind? Fear not! This is exactly what I will cover in this blog post. How doodling therapy can help ease anxiety? So get a notebook and pen to take notes and get started.
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The therapeutic power of doodling therapy
At its core. doodling is defined as a subconscious and spontaneous form of drawing that is characterised by the formation of simple patterns, images, and shapes. Doodling is a creative expression method that proceeds beyond the confines of defined and structured art forms. The mind is allowed to wander freely in case of doodling therapy.
Doodling has been around since ancient times. Evidence of doodles goes back to stages of early civilization. From the medieval manuscript margins to renowned thinker notebooks, doodling has been a regular and constant companion to mankind.
How doodling therapy engages the brain?
When you doodle, you engage many cognitive processes in your brain. Studies have shown that doodling activates different areas of the brain simultaneously, allowing the brain to focus better on specific thoughts while the mind is still able to stay open and focused on designing patterns and images.
If you wish to tap into your creative side, there is no better option than doodling. When you embrace the creative freedom that comes with doodling, individuals can easily unlock their problem-solving, creative-thinking, and imagination skills that may have stayed dormant till now.
Effect of doodling therapy on mental well-being
Anxiety is primarily the product of stress. What if you reduce the root cause i. e. stress? Will that reduce your anxiety? You’d say, Of! course! my anxiety would reduce but it’s reducing the stress that is an impossible step. Studies have shown that doodling therapy can help reduce stress by providing a creative outlet for your tension and letting your mind relax.
Doodling is also beneficial for emotional regulation. It can not only help with stress management, but it can also allow people to express complex emotions that would otherwise be impossible for them to talk about. The person’s doodles can become a visual diary of their thoughts and feelings, allowing others an insight into the person’s thoughts and feelings.
Doodling therapy as mindfulness practice
When doodling therapy is approached from a mindful perspective, it can act as a meditation. The repetitive and rhythmic motions of doodling provide the person a focus point to keep their attention on while they successfully immerse themselves in the act of meditation without focusing on their past or future.
Just as in the case of traditional mindfulness practice, doodling can act as an anchor for your present. The strokes that you make on the paper with your pen act as a grounding force teaching you to stay in the moment and focus on the visual and tactile stimulation of the process.
Role of doodling therapy in reducing anxiety
Anxiety exists and perpetuates because of our fear for our future. It is our thoughts and fears that give anxiety this power over us. When you engage in doodling, it boosts your mindfulness. Since mindfulness focuses on living in the present moment and not in the past, we develop a more neutral outlook towards our here and now. As and when individuals get more immersed in their doodling therapy, the anxiety grip on them starts to loosen up.
Since doodling therapy promotes a sensation of relaxation and calm in our nervous system, it also acts to counterbalance the chaos that is brought on by anxious thoughts and promotes a feeling of inner peace and tranquility.
Doodling has also been shown to relax the nervous system of the body and promote the lowering of the physical symptoms of anxiety Anxiety causes high heart rate, sweating, tremors, etc. When you engage in doodling therapy, your attention shifts from worrisome thoughts to paper. This in turn promotes a slowing down of the heart rate and blood pressure and allows your body to enter a state of physical relaxation.
Understanding the different doodling therapy techniques:
What is doodling therapy?
So far you must have heard of doodling therapy a few times in the article. However, the question arises, what exactly is doodling therapy? How does it work? How can the act of doodling be used to express emotions and stress?
Here’s your answer.
Doodling therapy is an intentional and structured application of doodling techniques for counseling and therapy. Doodling goes way beyond the realm of scribbling mindlessly on paper. The purpose of doodling is to use doodling as a tool to help people engage in stress reduction and properly express their emotions, the ones that may be too hard to express.
Doodling therapy understands and acknowledges that different individuals may have different ways of responding to the therapeutic strategies used. This is why doodling focuses on using a personalized approach that allows the participant to have creative freedom to explore and find the methods that resonate with them the most, depending on their emotional needs and preferences.
The different forms of doodling therapy formats for anxiety
The first one on the list is pattern-based doodling therapy. This is primarily guided by repeating patterns. The focus here is to encourage the individual to create intricate design patterns. The repetitive formation of the design pattern promotes the development of a meditative state so that the individual’s attention is diverted from thoughts that produce anxiety to the design.
Freeform doodling technique
The freeform doodling therapy is spontaneous and unrestricted allowing the individual to engage in uninhibited creature impression. This form of therapy allows the person to explore their emotions. The participants are allowed to move their pens freely on paper and allow their emotions to take over. They are not inhibited by the constraints of structures and formation.
Creation of mandalas
Mandala formation and coloring are also a part of doodling therapy. It can be extremely therapeutic to draw the circular symmetrical patterns of the mandala. This pattern formation has been associated with feelings of balance and wholeness allowing individuals to calm their minds and push the anxiety-inducing thoughts away.
How to engage in doodling therapy for anxiety relief?
If you have never tried doodling before, start now. You will never know whether the therapy will work for you or not. So before you start wondering if you are good at drawing or not, get a pen and paper and start doodling. Here are some tips if you are an absolute beginner:
Do not focus on the way you are drawing. Therapy is not about the result. It is about the process. Do not worry about how your doodles look. It does not matter if they do not look intricate or perfect. The focus here is not on mastery of the arts but on the process of expression.
Do not try to draw an elaborate and intricate design right off the bat. Start with building small patterns and doodles. This will help you get to that initial level of confidence before you can start doodling regularly. There is no timeline for your creative expression.
Tools and materials needed
When starting, all you need is a pen and paper. If you want, you can get a drawing pad and pencils to shade in and color the doodle later. However, focus on the process of making the doodle, not on the art supplies you get for creating the doodles.
Even though doodling therapy is the simplest form of art therapy, some people may find it more exciting and joyous to doodle using a variety of materials like markers, colored pens, etc. Even though these enhancements are purely optional and not compulsively a part of doodling therapy, the sky is your limit when it comes to exploration with materials. You can use whatever material you wish to use for your doodling. If you like materials, go for it.
Set the right environment for doodling therapy
Make sure you have a comfortable and quiet place where you can engage in doodling therapy freely. The place should have proper lighting and be quiet. A quiet place helps the creative expression of emotions. If the place is noisy, it will be hard for you to focus and concentrate. If you want, you can also add in some nice fragrances like lavender aroma so you can feel relaxed and comfortable.
Ensure that you do not have any other commitments coming up fast on the heels of your therapy session. When you decide your plan for the day, add doodling therapy during the times of the day when you do not have any other pressing matters. This way, your brain will not focus on the next work on your list and you will be able to give your full attention to the therapy. You can either schedule this in the evening, during your break time, or even at night before going to sleep.
Doodling therapy is a form of mindful practice. The focus of this therapy is to allow the person to be more present in their current life instead of placing their focus on the past or their future. It’s all about the process, not about the result. When you engage in doodling, your focus should be on the process, on the sensations and flows of making the doodles, allowing you to pay attention to your present, be mindful, and allow your emotions to flow on paper.
During the process of doodling, place your focus inwards. Zero down on your thoughts when you go through the process of doodling. Your attention should be on thoughts that occur during and after the doodling therapy session. This form of introspection can boost the benefits of doodling therapy by leaps and bounds. Redirect your focus towards exploration, self-compassion, introspection, and finally, the joy of creative expression.
Integrating doodling therapy into your everyday life
Make doodling therapy a part of your everyday routine
Ensure that doodling therapy is a part of your everyday morning routine. You do not need hours to sit and doodle. If you can make some time and give yourself 10 minutes to engage in the process of doodling therapy, it can act as your morning meditation. Morning doodling therapy sessions can set your day on a positive note and provide you with a creative outlet before you get bogged down by the pressing matters of everyday life.
Alternatively, you can also use doodling therapy as a way for you to relax and unwind in the evening after a hectic and long work day. This will help you transition from the lactic schedule of the day to a calm and relaxed mindset before bedtime.
Doodling therapy as a stress management method.
Possibly the best part about doodling therapy is that it is extremely portable. It can be done anywhere and at any time. Even if you are stuck in a high-stress job with constant demands, taking a few minutes out to engage in doodling will help you feel relaxed, calm, and better equipped to deal with difficult situations. Doodling therapy is one of the most discreet and effective ways to manage your thoughts and stress.
Alternatively, if you wish to maintain a sketch of your doodles and the progress you make using the doodling therapy, you should start maintaining a doodle journal. This will help you document your feelings, thoughts, progress, and doodle structures over time. This form of introspection and reflective practice can allow for an amazing enhancement in your self-awareness and act as an incredibly valuable tool for regularly managing your stress.
Encouraging creative outlet
One of the best ways to express and release negative thoughts feelings, stress, and emotions is doodling. This is the perfect way to let all your stress out. When in doodling therapy, individuals are encouraged to allow their emotions to take control of their thought processes and feelings. This art is not guided by patterns. It is guided by the feelings of the person. This is the perfect way to allow your unspoken feelings and thoughts to guide your hand and let your emotions out.
If you are experiencing heightened stress levels and wish to spend a few hours doodling to help lower your stress levels, make sure you factor in breaks as well. This is especially crucial if you have been feeling heightened stress for a while now. These breaks are very important as they can help you with mental reset, boosting your creativity and finally easing your tension.
Build a supportive environment
If possible join a local online doodling community so you have a place where you can share your experiences, gain inspiration from others, understand their struggles, and finally, develop a sense of camaraderie. Knowing that you are not alone and having the company of others who are on the same journey as you will not only serve as having an accountability partner, but it will also become a shared activity that will promote bonding and support the collective well-being.
If you are expecting your stress levels to reduce before you start doodling therapy, then you will be waiting a long time. You need stress management techniques that can be employed anytime, anywhere, and provide you with a quick escape. In the dance between paper and pen, the mental health tapestry brings forth the pattern of doodling therapy. Even though it is considered to be an unconventional notion, the spontaneous act of doodling therapy often reduces stress and relieves anxiety.
Doodling is also a part of mindfulness therapy practice. It unlocks the door to creative expression of thoughts, stress, and creativity. Scientific studies support that the stroke that you make as a part of doodling therapy can reshape your neural pathways and boost well-being.
If you haven’t tried out doodling therapy so far, you should start now. Doodling can be accommodated as a part of your morning or night routine. Even a few minutes of doodling can make a world of difference. Explore your emotions and use doodling as a creative way to express them.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Doodling therapy is an intentional and structured approach to using doodling as a therapeutic option to relieve stress and anxiety. On one hand, casual doodling is most often spontaneous and aimless. On the other hand, doodling therapy employs the use of deliberate techniques that are aimed at promoting relaxation, emotional expression, and mindfulness.
Yes! Doodling is inclusive and being an artist or having an artistic inclination is not required. The doodling therapy focuses on the process of doodle formation, not on the result. People belonging to all ages and walks of life can engage in doodling therapy and benefit from it.
Growing scientific evidence suggests that creative tasks like doodling have a huge positive impact on one’s mental health. This also includes anxiety. Scientific studies have shown that doodling therapy has a huge positive impact on their neurological and psychological state acting as a tool to help with anxiety relief.
Get a pen and paper and start drawing. It’s that simple. Your doodles don’t have to be perfect. Doodling therapy is about the process, not the result. You are allowed to freely explore your thoughts and emotions without any judgment. Use patterns, shapes, or just freeform strokes. You can either use only pen and paper or you can go all out with pen, paper, ink, crayons, etc.
Can doodling be a part of a busy daily routine?
If you can even spare 5-10 mins from your daily routine, you can have doodling as part of your daily routine. It can be a part of your morning, evening, or night routine. If you do not have free time prescheduled, then just use any break time you have to get some doodling in.