Can Doodling Be Beneficial?
While doodling is often frowned upon as a pointless hobby or a distraction, there are a surprising number of benefits. Often, doodling can be a reflexive habit helping the mind subconsciously deal with a variety of stresses and pressures. Here are a few of the benefits that the simple act of doodling can have.
Improves Memory and Focus
Doodling can be considered a form of fidgeting. Your body generally fidgets in response to your fight or flight system kicking in when bored, sort of as a last-ditch effort to keep you alert and attentive. By working out the adrenaline caused by the fight or flight trying to keep you awake, you inadvertently become more focused. Studies have shown that even medical students who find the time to doodle have increased memory and recall for information, as long as they limit the time spent doodling.
Doodles and spontaneous drawings may also have a significant impact on relieving psychological stress. Random doodling can sometimes help our subconscious make sense of our lives, filling in the missing pieces to memories or drawing on the psyche. The random scribbles or nonsensical words that come from spontaneous drawings might also not be as random as you might think. Studies have shown that doodles can reveal a lot about what is going on in the unconscious mind, and can be used as a critical diagnostic tool when treating people with mental health issues and disorders.
Emotions are incredibly complex, and not everyone is equally skilled at sorting out and dealing with their feelings. Much like other spontaneous creative activities like freewriting, doodling helps activate the same areas of the brain and allow you to process your emotions without your thoughts getting in the way. Using doodles as a free drawing exercise can help process your emotions as your mind will rely more on the portions of the brain that tie into the reward pathway, which helps improve mood and helps relieve emotional stress.
There are many other benefits to doodling in addition to the ones listed here, so if you find yourself doodling on notebooks or sketch pads while multitasking or tackling difficult problems, it may be helping out more than you think.