Advertising
Advertising

Spontaneous Doodling Improves Your Focus And Mental Health

Spontaneous Doodling Improves Your Focus And Mental Health

Bored? Chances are you just grabbed your phone and checked out social media before clicking this article. Before the days of social media and 10-second cat videos, though, procrastination often came in the form of a pencil and doodling in a notebook.

For all the glorious distraction[1] that technology brings to our lives, it may be time to put away the electronic devices and reach for our sketchbooks next time we’re bored. This is because recent research has shown that doodling can actually be good for our attention.

Participants in a 2009 investigation listened to a ‘monotonous mock telephone message’. Half of the group doodled as they listened and the other half didn’t. Their memories were then tested after the call. The group that doodled surprisingly recalled 29% more information.

Advertising

Though the findings are far from conclusive –the investigation was carried out on a relatively small sample of 40 people- it does provide interesting. The paper[2], written by Jackie Andrade, also suggests several reasons why doodling may be an aid rather than an enemy of focus.

Creatively Fidgeting

Doodling is a form of fidgeting. Fidgeting, contrary to many people’s beliefs, can actually be good for us.

Biologically speaking, our bodies are wired to combat boredom. The earliest human beings had to be constantly alert to danger. Alertness was crucial for survival. To this end, fidgeting may be your body’s instinctive response to the onset of boredom and distraction, a last-ditch attempt at maintaining an alert mindset.

Advertising

Preliminary research also suggests that fidgeting can combat negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle sat in an office or in front of a screen. The findings of a 2015 study[3] show that “negative associations with fidgeting, such as rudeness or lack of concentration” may be off the mark. Rather, they’re the body’s way of keeping alert when it senses a lack of activity.

The Resting Doodler

Aside from improving focus, doodling may also provide the respite needed in intervals[4] for the brain to maintain that focus. A lot of strain is placed on the brain when it is paying continuous attention to a stimulus, a bit like a computer overheating[5].

Sketch For Less Stress

Doodling, unsurprisingly, may relieve psychological distress[6]. One of the benefits of doodling is that it can relieve stress, which itself impairs our ability to pay attention and to focus on the task at hand.

Advertising

Going even further down the rabbit hole, our improvised, unplanned sketches may also provide a window into our subconscious[7]. Dr. Robert Burns, a former director of the Institute for Human Development at the University of Seattle, believes that doodles can be used to diagnose a patient’s emotional problems.

So, far from being the artistic equivalent of an incoherent ramble, a doodle may serve as a very useful therapeutic tool. According to Burns, ‘even at their simplest, the idle jottings we repeat in the margins of our notebooks can evoke childhood memories and associations that provide clues even to our obsessions.’

The Oxford dictionary defines a doodle as something that was scribbled absent-mindedly. While it’s true that your mind may not be fully engaged on what you’re jotting down on that notebook, it’s become clear that so much more is going on beneath the surface. So next time you’re boredom tempts you to scroll through cat pics, try doodling those cats instead.

Advertising

Featured photo credit: We Heart It via weheartit.com

Reference

More by this author

Christopher Young

Freelance Blogger, Writer and Journalist

To Be More Productive, Never Do This To Start Your Morning If You Play Any Musical Instruments, Your Brain Is Very Different From Others’ Workout Your Brain By Learning A New Word Every Day, You Will Get Smarter Why Most Highly Productive And Successful People Are Minimalists This Amazing Animated Film Reminds Us To Stop Wanting To Have Everything In Control, But Be Present

Trending in Brain

1 4 Ways to Develop a Flexible Mindset 2 How to Tap into Your Right Brain’s Potential 3 Are You Right-Brain Dominant? (7 Right Brain Characteristics) 4 What Is Creative Thinking and Why Is It Important? 5 How Systems Thinking Makes You a Smarter Person

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on April 7, 2020

4 Ways to Develop a Flexible Mindset

4 Ways to Develop a Flexible Mindset

How many opportunities have you missed because of a bad mood or being stuck in feelings of frustration?

I know I’ve certainly missed a lot. In fact, I can recall an exact time when I missed a great deal of opportunity. I was at a party filled with highly influential people. However, my girlfriend and I had just gotten into an argument because of my irrational expectations of how she would behave, and I wasn’t thinking clearly. I didn’t have any desire to talk to anyone or be open to interesting conversations. All I could think about was myself and my anger and frustration. I was caught up in this story; I was telling myself that I needed to be angry and I needed to show it. I can only imagine the opportunities I missed because I wasn’t flexible in my thinking.

Advertising

The mindset you need, then, is one of flexibility and not rigidity. You must be able to go with the flow of events without being disappointed by your expectations. This open-minded approach is a necessity if you want to be happy and experience rapid personal growth. These four ways below will tell you how to develop a flexible mindset.

1. See the feeling for what it is and accept it.

When you begin to notice yourself feeling frustration and anger, use that as a trigger to pause for a moment. See the feeling and sit with it. Don’t act, but stop and accept that you’re feeling this way. Understand that this feeling is just that ‒ a feeling. It’s not who you are, but merely a passing cloud in a sky full of clouds holding different feelings.

Advertising

2. Know that it’s OK to feel frustration and rigidity.

It happens to everyone. No one is perfect or immune to anger. It’s OK to feel this way. Give the feeling some space and compassion. It’s impossible to feel thankful and angry at the same time. By giving this feeling ‘some love’, you’re improving your mood and making it easier to come back to happiness. If you think of the feeling as a cloud, imagine opening up the sky and giving it the room to float away.

3. Notice what’s around you ― and breathe.

The key is to be in the moment. Too often we’re caught up in life and it whizzes by without us ever realizing it. Sit back, relax, and focus on your breathe for a bit. Feel it go in your nose, down your throat, into your stomach, and back out again. If you imagine your frustration as a thermometer, the more frustrated you are, the more it fills up. You need to give yourself time to allow it to cool off and that level to go down. Then, look around and be thankful for everything you see.

Advertising

4. Realize it’s OK to say, “I don’t know”.

It’s OK to not know how things should be. It’s also OK to not know how things are now. Not knowing sets you up to be able to freely investigate. Why are things this way? What series of events took place that caused this feeling? What unreasonable expectations did I have that put me in this place? Once you understand, you can fully let go and change your course going forward.

I hope these four steps help you let go of your rigid mindset and develop the flexibility to be happy and to experience personal growth. This shift in mindset will stop life from giving you lemons to make lemonade and start giving you whatever you desire. Just remember to pause, breathe, embrace, let go, and move on.

Advertising

Read Next