Are you someone who loves to doodle? Do you know that doodling has some excellent mental health benefits? Well, in this article we will talk about some of the mental health benefits of doodling and how to get it started. This would be a beneficial read for you if you are willing to relax your mind and improve your mental health condition.
What Is Doodling?
Before we know about mental health benefits of doodling, let us understand what doodling is? Conventionally doodling means, “to scribble in an absent mind”. It can also be said that doodling is drawing something meaninglessly or make meaningless marks. However, doodling is an underused, and underappreciated- learning tool.
Doodling has got various mental health benefits and it must be appreciated well as a type of visual language. Doodling means making spontaneous marks with your mind and body to help you think. Doodling could be a great way to explore, express, and also teach new creative ideas.
Below, let us know more about doodling.
There is something called mindful doodling where you practice and do purposeful pen strokes that calms you and takes you to a quiet space. It can also be referred to as “Meditative doodling”. This technique can be an excellent spiritual practice.
In this type of mindful doodling, you have to think of any particular image, concept, or person and then start making pen strokes like bubbles, clouds, or anything such. You can try exploring more of mindful doodling by using The Zentangle Method.(1)
The Zentangle Methods of mindful doodling is a simple method for relaxing by drawing beautiful, well-structured patterns.
There are a lot of other mindful doodling exercises available online, suggested by various art coaches and specialists. You can try any of them.
Doodling As Daydreaming:
Sometimes doodling is also done like proactive daydreaming. It is done unintentionally. Sometimes we doodle either when we are concentrating on a particular thing, or when we get bored, or when our mind is wandering.
A true doodle is drawn is a continuous line and where the pen is not lifted from the pen. Usually, shapes are the most popular forms of doodle. These shapes are related to one’s state of mind, needs, life outlook, responses, and attitudes.
Mental Health Benefits Of Doodling:
Doodling is known to have several mental health benefits and science too supports this. It is found that doodling enhances your creativity, problem-solving ability, concentration, memory, and spirituality. So, it can be said that doodling has enough of cognitive and emotional benefits. Let us see each of these mental health benefits of doodling, below.
Doodling helps in improving concentration. A study published in 2009 in the journal named Applied Cognitive Psychology, by the Psychologist Jackie Andrade of the University of Plymouth in the Southern England, explained that after a meeting or a lecture, those who doodled remembered more information than those who did not doodle.(2)
It was theorized by Andrade that doodling helps in improving concentration, as it requires enough cognitive effort to keep you away from daydreaming, and yet not enough to prevent one from paying attention to your surroundings. It can be said in other words, that doodling helps to anchor your attention and remain engaged instead of zoning out.
Doodling also helps in improving memory recall. As per the study of 2009 conducted by Jackie Andrade, it was found that participants who doodled, concentrated better on a mock telephone message and memorized the data provided in the voice message, than participants who did not doodle.(3)
It was also found from another case study of 2012, which was conducted on a smaller scale, by the medical student Michiko Maruyama from the University of British Columbia, that doodling in response to lectures helps in recalling and understanding.(4)
Problem Solving Ability:
One of the best mental health benefits of doodling is that it helps in improving your problem-solving ability. Doodling is a visual, kinesthetic, written, and emotional experience and can deepen your learning and invention.
Doodling is also a beneficial method for enhancing relaxation. It is said that coping with a pandemic is stressful and it is even said by the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention or CDC. However, artists, scientists, and teachers agree to the fact that doodling soothes.(5)
A 2016 study of 39 university students, staff, and faculty members found that after making art, 75% of the study participants had lower cortisol (stress hormones) levels in their saliva.(6) It did not matter if the art was “mere scribbling” or representational. In the study, some participants were artists, while others were not. However, art-making helped in reducing stress in all of them.
During this pandemic situation, we are spending more time indoors, away from friends’ meet or social support groups. It means we are increasing our addictive behaviors, such as device-using and binge-watching. It is true, that there is no easy solution to all these addictive habits. However, doodling is something that could help you in offering you pleasure and help in improving your mood.
In the year 2017, researchers from Drexel University in Philadelphia has examined the brain activation measured by infrared light in the study participants during three forms of creative self-expressions like coloring, doodling, and free drawing.(7)
It was found that all these three art-making activities, especially doodling, activated the reward pathways in the participants’ brains.
So, it was concluded by the researchers that “art-making” could be a great way to regulate mood and addictive behaviors.
Improves Creativity And Authenticity:
Doodling improves creativity and authenticity. It is said that doodling provides us an accessible mode of self-expression. It can be mentioned that doodling and our handwriting reflect our brain activity. When we doodle, there is a complex interaction going on between our eyes, the brain, hand, and the central nervous system.
Doodling significantly offers valuable insights into the mood and personality of the person who is doodling.
How To Get Started With Doodling?
One of the best things about doodling is that it is quite easy to get it started with. You can start doodling even if you are not a good artist and known how to draw the stick-figures. Below are the steps that would help you get started with doodling.
Learn The Basic Shapes:
You should first start learning and doodling some basic shapes that consist of dots, lines, angles, triangles, circles, squares, clouds, and spirals. These are the basic things that would help you learn and draw anything you want.
Use Stencils To Doodle:
If you are not prepared for drawing shapes of your own, you can use stencils. Bring some nice stencils and simply start tracing the shapes and then add your doodles inside and outside of the shapes traced by using stencils.
Take Help From A “Doodling How To Book”:
There is a book for everything that you want to learn. You can buy a “doodling how to book” of your own choice and start doodling seeing it. Doodling has become extremely popular these days, and so has the doodling how-to books.
Learn Doodling From YouTube Videos:
You can find lots of good doodling tutorial videos on YouTube. Try to follow them if you are a beginner or if you want any help.
Doodle Freestyle :
Doodle freestyle. Simply grab a pencil or a pen and, a paper and let your mind take over. Think of anything that you love and start drawing. Do not worry about your drawings, do not think of drawing any particular image, images will start taking their shape as you move the pencil or pen over the paper. Do not allow your inner critic to get in the way. Know it, no one has to see your doodle. So, allow your mind and hands, freely doodle. You can also try doodling in the dark if you feel.
If you have gone through the above explanation, then by now you must be aware of the mental health benefits of doodling. So, it is the right time for you to get it started right away. Live the best of your life by doodling, and express your life on your terms.