Doodling to Boost Memory/Relieve Stress

Struggling to pay attention during your fourth Zoom call of the day?  Feeling anxious and stressed about things beyond your control?  Doodling or free drawing may help your brain retain information, focus and concentrate, and relieve distress.  

According to a recent Harvard Health Blog post, spontaneous drawing is associated with a greater ability to pay attention and recall details.   Doodling is a form of fidgeting and works to help the fatigued brain stay attentive and alert.  Free drawing provides the brain with a break but also continues to allow information to be absorbed.  Thirty minutes of doodling can help the brain makes sense of information and as a result, people who take free drawing breaks may feel more relaxed and able to concentrate. 

Doodling may seem random but researchers have found that short bouts of free drawing may help people get “unstuck” from a problem and think more creatively.  With so much daily worry and uncertainty stemming from world events, doodling can help calm anxiety and a racing mind.  Without set parameters like coloring books, doodling is more spontaneous and creative, offering an opportunity for the brain to rest and regroup. 

Meditation has been found to help people tamp down chronic stress which can be very damaging to the body and mind, but not everyone can find a way to let go of intrusive thoughts and achieve their “zen”.  Free drawing can also help relieve stress and allow the mind to relax, quieting the internal chatter.   Doodling doesn’t require any costly or specific tools, just a few pens, pencils, and paper – perhaps a journal and colored pens for a daily 15-minute doodle break. 

Another wonderful thing about doodling is there is no wrong way to free draw, and people of all ages and abilities can participate.  Grandparents and their young grandchildren can set aside a short amount of time to doodle, either in-person or virtually, and then compare their spontaneous drawings and how they feel about what they created.  What may seem aimless can often lead to a burst of creative thought, problem-solving, or self-awareness.  

Learn more about the research related to the benefits of doodling by following this link to a research article published in The Lancet: The Art of Medicine