Today’s blog post is by guest blogger Emma from Invaluable who writes about the many health benefits of drawing and sketching. She includes a link to a related infographic with further detail and an opportunity to download a printable checklist of ideas and inspiration which you can stick in your sketch book or journal.
You don’t have to be a Leonardo da Vinci to reap the benefits of creating art. Artistic activities like journaling, crafting, and writing host a slew of benefits that many aren’t aware of, and drawing in particular has a variety of health and physical benefits. Drawing is a great activity for mindfulness, a way to reduce anxiety and let your brain focus on the task at hand while blocking out all other distractions and triggers. Next time you have the urge to sketch, instead of critiquing your own and focusing on improving skills, let yourself get lost in the activity and reap the endless benefits it has on our mind, body, and soul.
Drawing helps increase creativity. This is one of the reasons it’s highly recommended for children as the creation of vivid imagery forces us to use our imagination and in turn develops important areas of the brain.
Drawing improves memory. Drawing is an important activity for those with Alzheimer’s disease. It helps boost recalling skills and sharpen the minds through imaginative thinking.
Drawing improves communication. Drawing forces us to communicate through images, often without words, and this way of expressing inner thoughts and feelings often helps those who are shy or have certain disabilities.
Drawing helps relieve stress. Life is complicated, and an activity like drawing helps to relax from everyday demands. It’s a release, where many can temporarily exit the world of worries and focus on something more desirable.
Drawing increases our emotional intelligence. By enabling one’s emotions to be emitted through art, we in turn can have a better grasp on our feelings.
Sketching can also help you be more observant and
improve your senses. Clearly, there are ample health benefits to drawing,
listed above. Invaluable created a neat infographic
that outlines all the science-backed benefits of sketching, and how we can use
the practice to help with emotions we feel throughout our daily activities.
It’s something anyone, even the most novice of crafters, can reap the benefits
of, so use the visual printable for inspiration next time you’re willing to
give it a try.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the benefits of mindful drawing and are keen to try out some of the ideas yourself. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
If you read my first blog post of 2019 you’ll know that my word for this year is Resilience. Resilience can be defined as the ability to cope with and rise from all of the challenges, problems and set-backs that life throws at us and come back stronger. When we develop our skills and personal strength we are able to handle our difficulties more easily and this can improve our mental health. As part of my self development work in my Miracle Morning sessions, I’ve spent time reading online articles and a range of books on developing resilience. I’ve also written lots of tips and ideas in my bullet journal. Today’s blog post is a summary of what I’ve learnt in the first few months.
Try to remain optimistic
It can be difficult to remain optimistic when faced with challenges in life but maintaining a hopeful outlook is an important part of resilience. Try to have a positive mindset and encourage thinking such as ‘it’s not the end of the world’ and ‘things will get better’. Remember that set backs are temporary and remind yourself that you are strong and that you have the skills and abilities to face your difficulties.
When negative thoughts pop into your head, try to replace them with something more positive such as ‘I have lots of friends who will support me through this’, ‘I am good at solving problems’, ‘I never give up’, ‘I am good at my job’ etc. Also, choose to see challenges and bad experiences as an opportunity to learn. Ask yourself ‘What can I learn from this situation?’, ‘What is this trying to teach me?’ ‘What positives can I take from my experience?’.
Mindfulness is all about awareness of the present moment – our thoughts and feelings and the world around us. It involves the use of techniques such as meditation, breathing and stretching exercises and can help you to stay calm and in control of your emotions.
When practising mindfulness you begin to notice how thoughts come and go in your mind. You learn to accept these thoughts without judgement and develop your ability to let them go. In addition, you are able to tune in to what your body is telling you and notice signs of stress and anxiety so that you can release tension as you meditate.
It’s really important to have people who you can turn to at times of need. Building and nurturing constructive relationships with positive and supportive friends, family and colleagues is an essential part of wellbeing and staying resilient. They can provide a listening ear, positive encouragement, advice or help you celebrate your achievements. Having a good support system in place has also been shown to boost self esteem, confidence and better self image.
If you feel you need to widen your support network, there are many opportunities to do so either in your local community or through online groups. Try your local library, community centre or college for clubs and classes or try to find out about volunteering opportunities in your fields of interest.
A resilient body
We’ve all heard the expression ‘healthy body, heathy mind’ and keeping yourself well is another key part of resilience. Try to eat regularly and make sure you get plenty of good for you fruit and veggies in your diet. Find a type of exercise that you enjoy (personally, I love countryside walks and dancing), and schedule in a time for this each day. Also, remember to take time out to relax and recharge. It’s not self indulgent to schedule in some me time each day, it’s a key part of coping with our busy and stressful lives.
Good sleep is also vital for a healthy lifestyle and better mental health. Try to develop a good relaxation routine each evening – listen to some calming music, dim the lights, meditate or have a warm bath. Many people recommend writing in a journal as a way of putting the day to rest so that you don’t have lot of thoughts buzzing around in your head when you climb into bed. If you want to learn more about this technique click here.
Ideas to try in your bullet journal
Create a positive affirmations page and read them every morning. Examples of affirmations include ‘I am strong’, ‘I see the bright side in all situations’, ‘I radiate positive energy’.
Add some of your favourite positive quotes to your weekly plan.
Write a list of ways to reward yourself for your achievements such as ‘have a relaxing bubble bath’, ‘paint your nails’, ‘buy yourself some planner stickers’, ‘treat yourself to your favourite bar of chocolate’ etc.
Practise gratitude by keeping a one line a day log where you write in something you are grateful for on that day. You can include anything you want such as ‘
Make a ‘Things That Make Me Happy’ page and use it to remind you of all the good things in your life.
Produce a list of creative activities that you enjoy and find the time to schedule at least one of them into your busy week. Getting involved in art and creative tasks has been proven to reduce stress.
Keep a daily journal in which you evaluate your day. It will help you to focus on the positives and any challenges that you met. You can also use your journaling as a space to assess your issues and any ideas you may have for solving them.
I hope you find these tips useful. If you have any further ideas for staying resilient, please share them in the comments below.
We all find ourselves struggling at times and in different ways – maybe you have a really difficult decision to make, or maybe you’re finding it hard to fit it all in and still make time for yourself. Or perhaps, you’re having issues with a colleague at work or a family member and it’s getting you down. Or maybe, the cold and miserable weather has made you completely demotivated and you struggle to even get out of your cosy, warm bed in the morning.
Whatever you’re finding hard at the moment, and most of us can identify at least one thing, a technique which you might find really useful is to have a go at writing it down. There are lots of different approaches that you can try depending on your particular needs, but the act of writing has been shown to be really beneficial for improving your mental health. And, of course, all you need is a pen and some paper or a notebook (and perhaps a quiet space to sit).
As you write, you may find solutions or alternative ways of thinking popping into your head and this is your inner wisdom helping you work through your problems or look at things from another perspective.
Freewriting is a really simple technique where you just write whatever comes into your mind. Start with a blank piece of paper and just get out whatever is in your head. Try not to worry about spelling, grammar or punctuation, focusing instead on just keeping the writing flowing.
When you’ve finished your writing, try spending a few quiet minutes focusing on your breathing or thinking about how you currently feel.
Writing about your emotions
This is a good one to try if you’re feeling uncomfortable emotions such as upset, angry or frustrated. It can help you distance yourself from the emotion in order to rationalise your thoughts or empathise with yourself. Spend time journaling about how you are feeling and why. Don’t judge yourself in any way. Just record your thoughts and this will help you process them, rather than trying to avoid them by doing something else or, trying to switch them off.
Start a gratefulness diary
At the end of a busy day, just before you start to wind down and go to bed, spending a short time writing one or two things that you are grateful for can be a great mood booster. They can be simple things such as having an umbrella when it started to rain or a relaxing bath to soothe your aching muscles. Whatever made you happy or made your day that little bit easier write it down. You can choose the form in which you write, from a simple list to a random explosion of colour with little doodles for each one depending how creative you want to get!
Write a letter to yourself
This is one that I tried a while ago and I often come back to it and re-read what I wrote. First of all, you need to think about how you are feeling right now and what issues and difficulties are present in your life. Then, take a step back from your problems and write to yourself as someone who loves you unconditionally for who you are and shows kindness and compassion in their thoughts and understanding towards what you are going through. you don’t need to add in any solutions or advice but it might be helpful to offer support in the form of understanding and acceptance that things will improve.
Putting the day to rest
When you’ve got lots on your mind and are feeling really stressed, it can be difficult to quieten down your thoughts and relax at the end of your day. This can make sleep extremely difficult as you lie in bed analysing or worrying about what’s ahead. Putting the day to rest is a journaling activity which you can do for about 20 minutes each evening, not literally right before bed, but as a way of recording your thoughts and feelings so that you can switch off more easily. Here’s how it works:
Try to do this activity at the same time each evening – write it on your planner or set a reminder on your phone.
Use pen and paper rather than a laptop to avoid the glaring light of electronic devices.
Start by reflecting you your day – what are you general feelings about how it went?
Next, write down the main points of your day and identify what went well, what troubled you etc.
Write a to do list of anything which didn’t get done but is a priority.
Think forward to tomorrow – what is scheduled? How do you feel about it? etc.
Make a note of anything you are unsure about with regard to your day tomorrow and schedule some time to find out in the morning.
When you go to bed, if you start to think about things from your day or for tomorrow, remind yourself that you have already dealt these thoughts.
If new thoughts arise then you are already in bed, note them down on a piece of paper to be dealt with in the morning.
Ask yourself questions
As a keen bullet journalist, I use this technique regularly to help me to find ways to live my best life. I create a page with a question as a title and then list possible answers. Again, if you want to try this and like getting creative, you could add little doodles to your answers. Here’s some examples of interesting and thought provoking questions you might choose to ask:
How can I treat myself?
How can I get more organised?
What makes me happy?
What do I want to achieve this month?
How can I improve my relationship with …?
A brain dump is simply a page where you write words and short phrases to get down on paper all of those random thoughts that pop into your head throughout your day when you’re trying to focus on a particular task or activity. In this way, you can get back to the matter in hand and return to your random thought or piece of inspiration when it is no longer a distraction and you have time to further process it.
I hope you find these suggestions useful. Let me know if you try any of them or if you use any other useful therapeutic writing activities to help with the stresses and strains of life.
Yesterday, I started a mindfulness class. It’s a free eight week course designed to be an introduction to the core techniques and is provided my the Wellbeing service where I live. I signed up back in November and got a place in January so didn’t have to wait too long. I found the class a wonderful experience and can’t wait to learn more next week.
So, what’s this mindfulness thing all about?
In brief, mindfulness is all about becoming more aware of the present moment focusing on the here and now rather than the past or the future. It’s been scientifically proven to help our mental wellbeing, as long as you practise it regularly. If you want to read more about mindfulness and the benefits, click here to be taken to current NHS information and guidance: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/
In the class, we did a variety of meditations and techniques including what I shall call ‘the grape experience’. We were given one single grape each and asked to hold in our hand. We were then guided to experience it as though we had never seen a grape before using our 5 senses. So, we looked at it, from all angles, felt it (the skin, the temperature, the texture etc) smelt it (both in our hand and later in our mouths), explored it in our mouths (by rolling it around, testing it with our teeth etc) and then eventually bit into it and experienced taste and heard the sound it made as we chewed.
Now, you might be thinking, who’s got time to eat like that every day, or, alternatively, you could be questioning, quite rightly, what on earth grapes have to do with ironing. But, bear with me! Techniques like this, a simple example of mindful eating, show us how much we take for granted in our every day lives and all of the wonderful experiences we actually have and rarely savour. I, for one, am one of those people who regularly eat at the speed of lightening, whilst thinking about all of the other tasks I need to get done before my husband gets home from work.
Talking of tasks, one of today’s, which I seem to keep putting off, is the big pile of ironing currently residing in a basket in my spare room. I see it every time I go in there and my first thought ranges from ‘I really must get that ironing done soon’ to ‘arggghh, I’m such a domestic slattern’. So, thinking about what I’d learnt in yesterday’s class, I set about doing MINDFUL IRONING!!!
So, using my knowledge about mindfulness, limited so far to two hours of work and experience, here’s a summary of some of what I did in order to be more present:
listened to the sounds of the tap filling the little reservoir in the iron and watched it fill.
felt the different textures and temperatures of the materials which make up the ironing board and focused on the weight and strength required for the task of erecting the board on my kitchen floor.
listened to the various popping noises and the sound of the water heating up after I plugged in and turned on the iron.
examined the textures of the different fabrics of the clothes.
observed the creases disappearing and the steam coming from the iron as it glided over the items
watched, felt and sniffed the steam as it rose from the iron
marvelled at the science behind it all!
And do you know, I actually found the experience of ironing that big pile of clothes to be calming and relaxing and I even started to enjoy myself. The items were pressed and folded carefully in no time and I reckon I might even look forward to what I consider to be a boring and time consuming chore in the future. And wouldn’t that be amazing, if every chore felt like a pleasant experience and one which didn’t fill us with dread or boredom?
I really do recommend you try this technique even if you’ve never tried mindfulness before. How about some mindful washing up or mindful showering? Let me know in the comments if you have a go and what you thought of the experience. And even if you’re feeling cynical about it, give it a try, you never know, it might just change your approach to doing chores and improve your day!
Happy New Year everyone! Hope you’re all well and excited to see what 2019 brings. My husband is at work doing some overtime today so I’ve finally found some time to take photographs of my bujo spreads and share with you how I’ve created my vision board for the year and set some goals for this month.
I started a new Scribbles That Matter bullet journal last month in December 2018, so I’m not starting a fresh notebook but I am changing up a few things from last year and making some new plans in order to increase my time working on developing myself both professionally and personally in line with the recommendations from my favourite new book The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.
My word for 2019
I thought long and hard about what I want for myself and my handmade business for 2019 and after coming up with lots of ideas, the word which resonated with me the most was RESILIENCE.
Life is full of so challenges and pressures and it’s important to develop our capacity to deal with the various stresses and strains that are thrown at us and stay well physically, but also mentally. Wellbeing has been a big focus for my self care for a while now following some huge changes to my lifestyle.
Last year my word for the year was BALANCE as I felt I needed to work on ensuring I focused on dividing my time better so that I was able to balance my business and personal commitments much better. At the beginning of the year, I set lots of goals and thought really carefully about what I wanted but, I’m disappointed to admit that I didn’t spend anywhere near as much time following through on my intentions as I would have liked.
This year, I’m in a much more positive frame of mind and more determined to work on myself, ensure that all of things that get in the way of my good intentions do not hold me back. I want to develop my ability to deal with stress brought on by life’s challenges and maintain a stable mental wellbeing whatever life brings.
I’m really pleased with how the page turned out and hope it provides the inspiration for me to embody my word each and every day of 2019.
Be sure to share your word of the year and why you chose it in the comments below. I would love to hear what you’re going to focus on for 2019. Also what are your tips for making sure you keep your word at the forefront of your mind?
Creating my vision board
In 2018, my vision board was poster sized, tacked to the wall of my craft room and was very inspirational, when I looked at it (which I really, really did for at least a few months!!!). This year, I decided to put my vision board in my bujo and look at it every day as part of my Miracle Morning visualisation exercises. I also decided to get my images from Pinterest so that I wasn’t limited to magazine bits and pieces from my collection.
I spent a long time perusing Pinterest, typing in pertinent words and looking for inspirational images. I then printed them on photo paper and trimmed them ready to paste into my bujo. I also collected words and phrases to accompany the images. You can see my finished double page board below.
What my vision board represents
the desire for a well stocked, tidy craft room
productivity in terms of my business
commitment to my Miracle Morning practise for the 30 day challenge and beyond
quality time with my husband
a focus on getting little birds in our garden and wildlife photography
a well structured and beautiful garden
exercise which works on improving my core strength (and hopefully ridding me of the dreadful sciatica I’m currently suffering from)
getting my nails in good condition and being able to paint them
learning more about flat lay photography and sharing more planner and journal spreads on social media.
What does your vision board for the year look like? I’d love it if you shared in the comments below.
Setting goals for this month…
To begin my journey of a happy and successful 2019, I set myself a number of goals for January. I split them into business and personal goals. I’m pleased to say, I’ve achieved some of them already and it’s only 6th Jan!
That’s all for now. I hope this post has inspired you to think about your intentions for 2019 and maybe try out a few of the spreads. Don’t forget to share your own ideas for the year. I look forward to hearing from you.
The time of year is upon us when the best Etsy shops get ultra busy as buyers search for supplies to get creatively involved in a range of Christmas crafts, for beautifully handcrafted gifts for friends and family and anything which might make them feel a little bit more organised as we head towards 2019.
For my customers, the search might be for beautiful handmade paper goodies to change up their planner and get it looking festive, the ultimate little stocking fillers for planner girls and trinket lovers (or as a little reward to oneself for being good at this stressful and busy time of year!).
Or, maybe their super-organised, planner girl thoughts have already turned to 2019, in which case, they’ve begun eyeing up new planner systems which, let’s face it, wouldn’t be complete without some pretty handmade accessories such as cute nature inspired dividers, page markers or useful dashboards (for all of your sticky notes and stuff!).
Wherever a buyer’s head is at right now, there are several types of customer who are browsing your virtual shelves. Those well prepared goddesses of organisation who, by the end of September, have already made all of their Christmassy purchases (lucky them!) and there are others who leave it until the last minute and want their goodies and gifts popping through the letterbox, like now, stalking the ‘postie’ and sighing with sadness when their front door is bypassed in favour of next door or a neighbour across the street (no, it’s not just you!). Or, those who fall somewhere in between (that’s me by the way and I like it like that!).
That’s one of the things about online shopping – it’s easy and you can view so many things in such a short amount of time, all without getting pushed and shoved, having to pay gigantic parking fees or having to visit rammed coffee shops and cafes for lunch / a lie down / some respite / feet relaxing purposes
or all of the above!
– but, and it’s only a little one: You need to find a little bit of patience (if anyone finds a dose that’s ready to ship today, can they please share the online link in the comments!?!).
For me, at least, shopping from home has so many benefits that I absolutely love it – as long as the items are accurately described, beautifully photographed and make me want them in my life or to give to my loved ones as a lovely surprising and thoughtful gift (but that’s another post entirely and one which I may do in 2019, watch this space).
Whichever type of shopper your shop attracts most (and let’s face it, they come in all different shapes and sizes!), this is the time of year when everyone is stressed and busy (and often feeling under the weather with various ‘lurgies’ doing the rounds). We all want to feel super organised and show the world how well prepared we are and how we haven’t left anything to the last minute (even if we have!). So, you want shoppers to trust that your little shop is THE place to visit, surpassing all others (now wouldn’t that be nice I hear you cry – Yup! The Very Best!).
One step to achieving customer confidence in you and your Etsy business, is to keep yourself organised, calm and ready for action (don’t you just love it when you radiate all of these things?). It also helps you avoid mistakes – yes, we all make them I hear you cry, but, it’s vital that they are kept to a minimum if you want to retain customers and get good reviews!
With popular sayings such as ‘two heads are better than one’ (originally stated by John Heywood back in 1546 don’t you know!) and ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much’ (wise words from Helen Keller, a famous American author), at the forefront of my mind, I turned to the Etsy forums to ask seasoned sellers for tips (I checked their sales data and they had thousands of, often extremely happy, customers!).
Here’s a summary of the best (in my humble opinion) of what I learned:
1. Print the packing slips for all orders and use them to your advantage.
You might not want to include them in the parcels but they can be a very useful organisational tool. Highlight them or tick off as you make each item (if you make to order), or simply tick off parts of the order as you get them together to package, wrap them up and place in the packet or parcel. Use different colours for each step of the process e.g. red for making, orange for getting ready to package, green for all packaged up (more colours if you have more steps, get the idea?). Or, if highlighters aren’t your thing (WHAT????? lol!) other stationery items work just as well e.g. pencils to scribble notes, circle, draw arrows, underline important bits etc, sticky notes or flags.
Also, if someone convo’s you with a change to, for example, shipping address you can amend it there and then. Anything which helps you avoid issues further down the line is good here.
If you want to save on paper and personalise the process, you can even make your own packing slip template that’s small and neat and fill it in with your own handwriting and pop in the package – I’m all for the personal touch and so are many customers who shop handmade.
2. Talking of supplies…. have lots!
As well as stationery goodies (in pretty colours if you’re an obsessive like me), make sure you have plenty of them for packing too (who needs last minute dashes to the shops for overpriced packaging?) – different sized envelopes / boxes, grip seal bags, tissue paper, (*insert your preferred packing supplies here*).
Also, have them in a dedicated area and neatly organised (a topic for expansion another time maybe?) so you can select from all which is available with ease (we all like quick and easy, right!?!).
3. Take it one order at a time
It might sound counterproductive in terms of working efficiently, but working carefully and doing just one order at a time until it is completed sounds like the best way to go to avoid mistakes. If you only have the packing materials for one order on your desk, you unlikely to pack the wrong items (unless you accidently wrap up your highlighter pens!). Also, if you combine this with a colour coded system you can be even more organised (go you!).
4. Orders in progress
Another tip I received, which I think is a mighty good one, is to print orders off as soon as they come in and use Etsy’s feature to mark them as ‘in progress’. That way you can see at a glance which orders are already in your head and which need your attention.
5. Check, check and triple check
You want to avoid mistakes don’t you? Checking takes time but it’s worth the effort I think and I’m sure you’ll agree. Did the customer want one of the item or more than one? (don’t just rely on the primary image photo on the order form here as the text next to it is key here) What colour / size / pattern (etc) did they select? (Use your preferred checking method here – see ideas above!)
6. Turn off your phone
Yes, you might wanna hear more cha-chings, who doesn’t, but you don’t want to be distracted, right? Distraction = mistakes and you know it!
Well, I think that’s enough to be going on with for now, I don’t want you feeling overwhelmed (sorry if you are already – deep breaths now!) I’m sure there are hundreds more ideas out there but, ultimately, it’s about what works for you and your own shop – and you know your small business (or whatever you call it) better than anyone! As a fellow Etsy seller said to me this week:
Create a system and rhythm to your orders and you should work like clockwork!
(The lovely Janice at JJJewellerysupplies on Etsy)
and who doesn’t want a shop that runs like that?
I’m super excited to hear more top tips from my lovely readers (that’s you by the way!) so don’t forget to share in the comments below. I know we’re all super busy but you took the time to (skim) read these nuggets of information, and you might just revolutionize a fellow online seller’s methods (doesn’t that give you a warm Christmassy glow inside!).
I hope these ideas helped, even if it’s just in some small way. Thank to all those sellers on the Etsy forum who contributed and to you for reading. I wish you lots of sales over the Christmas period and beyond! Also, if you can find time in your busy schedule, let me know in the comments how your shop is doing right now (or during the post Christmas slump whilst you sup a glass of chilled rose wine and celebrate your huge successes is absolutely fine)!
Hi all, I know, it’s been ages since I did a new blog post but what can I say, I’ve been super busy with my growing Etsy Shop. I’ve been getting creative (mainly with my shop photos) and I’m still very much a bujo and creative journaling addict but, I’ve let my blogging slide. What can I say, something had to give and unfortunately, this was it… sorry!
But, I’m back and I would so love to hear from each and every one of you with a mini update of your creative / plannery life and what your priorities are right now.
So, here’s some of my (best) reasons for being AWOL, AKA what I have been dedicating my precious time to:
Planning and having a creative Monday – two or 3 hours, most Mondays when I shift focus from my shop to getting messy. I’m talking brush lettering (I’m a leftie so I always get covered in ink!), colouring in, drawing (I’m getting better, slowly), painting, cutting and sticking (AKA collage) and anything else which takes my fancy and can be crammed in to my time.
Making daily plans. I’ve discovered I work best if I sit and create a daily timetable each and every day. This is drawn up in my bujo during my quiet, focused time that I dedicate to planning and preparation before I start work on my Etsy shop.
Putting into place ideas from my two favourite (and newly discovered) books on productivity. (see below – one is on my Kindle so I’m making notes in my bulging bujo as I like to record most of my learning so I don’t forget!)
Reaching out to other planning and journaling addicts both IRL (Bev, that’s you my lovely!) and virtually (UKPA you are an amazing, wonderous group – where would I be without you!).
That’s it for now, but I (pinkie) promise, I will be back with another post very shortly (you can berate me in the comments if I don’t!).
Much love and best wishes to you and your loved ones for the Christmassy period.