The Power of Doodling

The Power of Doodling

Do you want a hack that is going to make you feel better almost instantly? Something that can calm your nervous system AND help you use your stash of pretty pens? Yes that's right, I'm talking about doodling! Let me tell you why it works and then show you some easy doodling techniques to soothe your soul!

No way this works...

I promise you it does. Despite seeming like a pointless scribble on paper, doodling is actually really good for the brain. Doodling relaxes your amygdala (the part of your brain that controls your fight or flight response) aka your anxiety center!

Your brain gets the signals from your body that you are safe and in control. Without you doing anything other than moving pen on paper, you are communicating to your nervous system that you couldn't possibly be in immediate danger if your taking the time to doodle. 

Okay, so you have science... How do you do it?

The power of doodling

Easy peasy lemon squeezy! Get a pen and a piece of paper. The bigger the paper, the more room there is to fill, so I suggest you start small with just a post it. 

Before you start, check in with your body: are you tense? palms sweaty? mind racing? Do a quick scan of yourself and note what you feel.

Now, doodle: Draw a heart, a unicorn, squiggles, flowers, patterns, whatever feels good.

Keep doodling and filling that piece of paper so that there is no space left to fill.

Did you do it? 

Check in with yourself again. Have your shoulders relaxed? Can you breathe easier? Notice the shift in your thoughts.

That's the power of doodling.

Wait, I'm not good at doodling this is too hard...

Ok, an empty square can certainly be daunting. Let me show you an easy way to fill it, perfect for ANY skill level. Kids included!

Start by drawing anywhere from 10-25 stars in your square. More if it's a big square!

Now, find a middle-ish spot where there isn't a star and start spiraling out from that point.

Keep your pen to paper as much as possible - only lifting when you come to a star, continuing the spiral on the other side of the star.

Spiral out until you've filled your square.

Easy doodling practice to calm your anxiety

Remember the goal isn't to look good or feel proud of your artwork... the goal is to calm your anxiety. Slow methodical movement filling up your paper line by line will feel silly at first, but notice how your body reacts. Notice how your mind calms. It's almost like magic.

Okay so it works, how do I add this to my routine?

The easiest way is to just reach for a piece of paper and pen the next time you're feeling anxious. But if you'd like to build a regular practice of grounding yourself through journaling, consider this method:

Abbie's Planner showing her method of doodling in the polaroid insert

My sweet friend Abbie sent me this last week, sharing that she fills in one square at her desk each day. It's the perfect way to calm down in between meetings or push her out of a thought spiral!

I thought this was a BRILLIANT way to use the polaroid insert. Each page has between nine and sixteen square photos to fill in (depending on which size insert you get!) and the squares are no larger than a full box so the process of filling them is actually quite easy!

So the next time you're feeling a little overwhelmed and needing a calming moment. Grab the nearest piece of paper and let your pen flow.


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