Art Journaling for Healing: Doodle and De-Stress
At the end of the day, you’re tired, you’re stressed, and it’s too easy to reach for a glass of wine, watch tv, or get caught up for hours on social media. While brainless activity is sometimes important for letting go, when it’s your only go-to for winding down, it can make you feel more empty and bored than when you started. This is where creative self-care comes in.
Whether you consider yourself creative or not, humans are creative by nature. Because we are all creative, when we feel out of balance, creative acts can help. Even if you don’t see yourself as “artsy,” art has been shown to have a calming effect on the brain. If you just can’t believe that you are creative, check out this amazing talk with neuroscientist Rex Jung, a specialist in creativity, for the scientific low-down.
Careful, repetitive drawing is one of the main ways I use art to slow down my mind and body when I feel anxious or upset. Of course I also do it when I’m feeling calm, simply for the enjoyment of making something.
Doodle and Destress
Try this: Put on some relaxing music, grab some paper or your art journal, a gel pen, Sharpie, or ball point pen, and try one of the doodle ideas below.
- Trace a cup or a bowl to create a large circle in the middle of your page – this will be your drawing space.
- Experiment with keeping your lines close together so that you have to work carefully. As I often tell my art mentoring clients, part of the key is to give yourself the gift of time and permission to create. You deserve to enjoy both the process and the product.
Remember that anything repeated looks much more interesting, even if the lines aren’t “perfect.” Look closely, you’ll find imperfections in my art here.
I find that stepping back gives me a better perspective and helps me stop perseverating on small imperfections. I do this often as I work. (Funny how that’s like life, huh?)
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Here’s some shapes you might try doodling with:
3. Waves (drawn really close together – this looks cool)
4. Tiny leaf shapes – you can turn these into leaves, or make a small dot for a fish eye
5. Horizontal lines, overlapped with vertical lines
6. Simple flowers with 3 – 5 petals
9. Short lines, long lines, curvy lines, wavy lines
10. Dots – SO MANY DOTS!
11. Overlapping ovals to create a “chain”
12. Repeated “V” shapes, “C” shapes, “L” shapes, “U” shapes
13. Skinny ovals or fat ovals
14. “Checkerboard” patterns – make a grid and color in every other square
For this page, I drew half circles that overlapped. Then I drew lines from the midpoint of the half-circle, radiating out to the edge. It took me a long time to do this accurately, but again, that’s the point!
[bctt tweet=”Use art as medicine: Doodle to destress #artheals #happycreativelife”]
I like doodling over painted pages with my gel pens to give a fun pop of color. It’s very satisfying to watch the patterns appear.
So, what do you think? Drop into the comments and let us know. How about posting your doodle in our private Facebook community, Creative Self-Care?
If you are excited about these techniques and want to learn more about how art journaling can help you with your feelings, check out my free class: The Guide to Creative Self-Care.
*The product links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you choose to click and purchase something, at no extra cost to you, you’ll support the work of Mindful Art Studio. I only share products I truly love and believe in. Happy creating!
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Thank you, Amy.
I feel freshened up, just reading your ideas for doodle shapes.
A sweet reminder to not just blob in front of the teev. Blob in a book instead.
I’m so glad this was a good reminder for you. Actually, blob is a great term, making patterns with blobs shapes is super fun. Thank YOU for the reminder!
Thank u. This works well for me. I feel recharged.
Oh this is great, Neha, I’m so glad! xo
Hi! I started doodling about 2 years ago and I am totally hooked! We moved house a month ago but I made sure my pens and books traveled with me in the car in stead of being packed into a box .. It is , as you say, very good therapy . Thank you for lovely ideas.
Hi Gerda! Welcome to Mindful Art Studio! I’m so happy to hear how effective the doodling is for helping you along! If you haven’t already, you might like our private FB group, Creative Self-Care. It’s full of wonderful folks like you doing the same inner work through art.
Thanks a ton Amy. I joined this group just after I started learning about Zentangle. Your slow drawing parties encouraged me to let go the inhibitions I had about drawing and painting, it has opened new doors of creativity and relaxation for me. Thank you once again
Hi Gerda: I’m so happy that I could help! We will see you this week for a new pattern! xo
Hello. I just found this page now and I saying that I am EXCITED is an understatement. This gives me a new kind of hope even before I have begun.
CAN’T THANK YOU ENOUGH FOR PUTTING THIS OUT THERE! LOVE.
Oh I LOVE your enthusiasm and I’m thrilled that you are finding what you need here at Mindful Art Studio. If you haven’t already, check out our private FB group, Creative Self-Care: https://www.facebook.com/groups/creativeselfcare/ XO Amy
I’ve always been using most of the doodles above, so relieving so refreshing, It makes me feel peaceful each time I accomplish a project thats as expressive as so
HI Esra: Yes, it IS a relief to be able to sit down and doodle repetitive patterns. I so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment here. Many happy creations to you! XO Amy
Thanks very much for these doodling prompts – I am feeling positive that I am going to learn a lot here. I am going to try out some of your suggestions ASAP 😊
I have just started a blog #threadstogether and , if it’s ok with you, I would like to include links to this page and your website in a future post?
I’m so happy you liked it and of course you can include some links. I’ll be sure to check you out – sounds like fun!
How could I have been painting, drawing for soooo long and not have thought of this.
This is so freeing. I love it. Thank you for conitinuing the suggestions and the leads that help me doodle with a purpose.
Lila – I’m so happy that this helps you. We all have different things to offer each other; I’m so happy I had this! xo
Found a few of your posts on Pinterest tonight. I’ve been feeling a bit helpless and lost, maybe sad? My daughter is almost 5 months old and I haven’t been able to put my finger on what was missing since she was born. Reading your posts have given me an ah-ha moment. I’ve been craving and needing a creative outlet but have put it off because I didn’t know what to do. I’ll start tomorrow morning with my coffee. Thank you <3
Hey Mary! Oh, I’m thrilled that this speaks to you!
Hi Amy! My real name is Amelia, but my friends call me Amy. I am 62 yrs. old from the Philippines. Love doing art projects (except doddle) even before i got sick. I am a cancer survivor, and doing art projects relaxes and remove all my stresses. I know this will add to my art projects, especially now that we are in a lockdown due to the pandemic (corona virus).
HI Amelia: I used to sometimes wish my full name was Amelia – so pretty! I’m so happy you can create in this time! xo
This doddling has helped me with the mental illness I have. Thank you so much.
Cynthia: I’m so so happy to hear that art has been a balm for you. Me too. xo