How often do you put pen to paper? Think back to a time when you sat down and wrote or drew: perhaps you were writing a thank-you note, or completing a journal entry.
Do you remember a sense of ease and relaxation?
There’s plenty of research on the benefits of writing and drawing for stress reduction. It’s even been shown that adult coloring books may benefit mood.
Writing therapy under the supervision of a trained practitioner, can help with stress, anxiety and even PTSD. Even doodling or drawing are great mindfulness activities that can slow down the mind, and help you develop a sense of calm and focus.
There are many ways to benefit from the positive effects of putting pen to paper. Here are some ideas to give you inspiration.
Journal writing therapy can be hugely beneficial. According to Positive Psychology, “...evidence points to its effectiveness in helping people identify and accept their emotions, manage their stress, and ease the symptoms of mental illness.”
Even when done outside of a therapeutic setting, any expressive and reflective writing has been shown to assist with creating life goals, coping with stress, being able to develop a habit of positive self-talk, improve problem-solving and allow you to identify patterns such as triggers that affect your mood.
Incredibly, journaling has even “been shown to impact physical well-being; avid journal writer and journalist Michael Grothaus notes that there are studies suggesting journaling can strengthen the immune system, drop blood pressure, help you sleep better, and generally keep you healthier.” (Positive Psychology)
Although journal therapy is best done with the help of a qualified therapist, the beauty of journal writing for yourself is that you have full creative license. Perhaps you like logging your day as a way to ‘brain dump’, to help you to wind down, or maybe you prefer a ‘stream of consciousness’ style. Go with whatever works for you.
Writing or receiving a handwritten letter is one of life’s joys - one that is sadly rare nowadays.
In fact, the simple act of writing a letter - whether or not you choose to send it to anyone - can be a very therapeutic exercise that can help you to release negativity, give you mental clarity by being able to formulate your thoughts in exactly the way you want, or simply to share positive feelings.
Next time you’re sending a friend a birthday card, why not write them a longer letter instead? Even if it’s someone you speak to fairly often, you’ll probably find that once you sit down to write a note, you’ll have plenty to say - and it might help you to open up about something you’ve not had a chance to speak to them about on IM or text.
Research suggests that coloring in may result in “...benefits to improving mood, enhancing mindfulness, and reducing mental health stress.”
When you think about children coloring in, it’s easy to see the calming effect it has. Even high-energy children who spend the day running around, seem to calm down and find some focus when sitting at a table to color.
The mindfulness aspect of coloring in - that is, focusing simply on the activity at hand, staying within the lines, keeping a consistent style - can really help to slow down the mind and to bring about a sense of calm.
If you don’t like the idea of drawing your own pictures to color in, there are many different books to choose from. Geometrical shapes such as mandalas are incredibly soothing to color in because of the repetitive patterns and the lack of ‘rules’ about what color something ‘should’ be. Alternatively, you can let your creativity flow with one of the many thousands of themed coloring in-books available to buy.
Doodling and Drawing
If you have a tendency to doodle during meetings, you won’t be surprised to learn that it can help you to pay attention as well as helping with memory. It can help to stop you ‘zoning out’ and is also a creative outlet.
If you like the creative aspect, then drawing is another really beneficial activity. Research on drawing therapy has shown that it “may be useful to improve mood.” Like journaling, there are therapeutic applications of drawing, which can be done with a qualified art therapist.
However, simply taking time to draw something that inspires you (whether of your own design or copying from something else) can help to bring about a sense of calm and ease. And if you’re really adventurous, then why not sign up for a drawing class? It could just be your new meditation.
Something in between a journal and a sketchbook, an inspiration book lets you combine the benefits of expressive journaling and drawing/doodling, while also giving you a very personal space to write about your life goals and desires.
An inspiration book can be whatever you make of it - you can write your bucket list, big picture plans, yearly goals, or even what you might feel is a faraway dream. Bringing those things to life by writing them down is a form of making an intention, as scary as it can be to put it out there. Once you’ve committed it to paper, it feels more ‘real’ and you’re more likely to take steps towards making those dreams a reality.
One thing we do recommend is buying a journal or inspiration book that you love - there’s nothing quite like opening the pages of a beautiful notebook to make you want to sit and write. For ultimate luxury, we love classic Smythson. We also love the world’s first climate-positive notebook from A Good Company. Made from recycled stone, the naturally waterproof paper has no grain direction and so is a dream to write on. Harrods of London also has a wonderful selection of stationery.