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Reading and Drawing for Wellbeing

Reading and drawing for wellbeing

Our lives seem increasingly chaotic, an ever-faster rush towards goals that we often can’t see or even understand. At the same time we are enjoying a relentless rise in digital technology with all the benefits that gives us. But this engulfs the very heart of how we communicate, think and experience. It brings with it a common feeling that we are missing out on something simpler and perhaps more joyful. Increasingly people are beginning to connect the idea of ‘mindfulness’ to their own personal wellbeing. We see mindfulness as a process of appreciating the very moment you are in now. It’s an ability to ‘take in’ your thoughts, your physical sensations, your surrounding environment.  To practice mindfulness you need some inner space. When seeking space in our day-to-day lives, what simpler way is there than by turning to some daily reading and drawing for wellbeing?

Reading has health benefits

“reading can reduce human stress levels by as much as 68%”

Stress is at the root of more than 60% of all illness and disease, so say the American Medical Association. Psychologists at the University of Sussex discovered that reading can reduce human stress levels by as much as 68%. Even a quiet read of around 6 minutes was demonstrably enough to slow the heart rate and relax muscles. And it works not only as a distraction, printed words engage the imagination; creating an altered state of consciousness, and that stimulates creativity.

And drawing has health benefits too

Creative activity makes us feel contented and fulfilled. It feels intuitive to us to create, as it did to our oldest ancestors back in prehistoric times making their mark on shadowy walls of caves and rock. Creative expression is a deep rooted part of what makes us human. The physical action of drawing, its combination of movement, tangibility and focus, helps create a state of calm in a similar way to reading. Art psychotherapist Karin Angstrom believes that as little as 10 minutes a day is enough for positive effects.

Whatever our creative passion, we’ve all known that feeling of getting swept along with what we are doing. It’s a common response to creating anything, and we instinctively know it feels good. We can develop our brain’s capacity for creative thinking by regular drawing as much as an athlete can by regular physical training. In turn, we improve our ability to communicate, and this ability equips us to better cope with the world around us.

Doodling triggers pleasure – no skill required

“…this effect is not connected to how good or bad you might think you are at drawing”

A study at Drexel University in Philadelphia found that doodling causes a blood flow increase in your prefrontal cortex. This is also where we find the brain’s reward center, and it is here that our brains release feelings of pleasure. The study found similar effects for coloring and free-drawing. Researchers also reveal that this effect is not connected to how good or bad you might think you are at drawing — everyone can benefit.

Overcoming the blank page syndrome

If all this is so true, if reading and drawing has so much benefit to offer us, then why is it sometimes so difficult to get started? This brings us back to my first point, our hectic lifestyles. It’s as if we live our lives in shorter blocks now. It seems our ability to slow down and focus is reduced, and yet something that we probably crave naturally. Perhaps it’s a skill that many of us want to re-learn?

When I first came up with the concept for Pocket Doodle Read my aim was to carve out a little daily space for mindful focus and creative thinking. We find so many reasons why we can’t take up our pencil to draw, or open the book we bought during our last holiday. Pocket Doodle Reads help you to overcome those reasons quickly and effortlessly. Our short story format (in punchy daily episodes) mean that you need only take a short break out from your busy day. Six or seven inspiring minutes of reading then leads to 8 or 9 minutes of creative expression through easy doodling. And there is no blank page syndrome here. The daily doodling sheet is pre-filled with artwork and ideas just waiting for you to add your own creativity. It all adds up to 15 very rewarding minutes each day. And the benefits are clear!

Introducing Pocket Doodle Read

Pocket Doodle Read , the daily read & doodle that fits in your pocket. Each edition contains 5 printable daily episodes from an inspiring short story for a quick once-a-day read – then, pen ready, open it out to reveal a fun and inspiring themed doodling sheet where you can explore your own creative reaction. Find out more

Dracula's Guest. Printable story to read, flip, and doodle