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.