I spend every day doodling. This week I wanted to share something that came up in a corporate session I recently delivered.
Author and visual thinking expert Sunni Brown calls doodling “the act of making spontaneous marks in order to support thinking.” The science backs her up! Studies have shown that even a short doodle break can help people solve problems in inventive ways, make fresh mental connections, retain information, or simply relax and enter a meditative state. No matter how you look at it, a doodle break is 5-10 minutes well spent.
So why is it so hard to actually take one?
I mean it! If the science is there, why isn’t everyone who reads my posts taking a doodle break right now? What’s the biggest obstacle? It happens to be the same obstacle that keeps us from doing many other restorative self-care practices: If you’re like most people, the biggest thing that stands in your way…is YOU.
Even if we know objectively that restorative self-care activities are good for us, it can be hard to shift our mental priorities from checking off items on a to-do list to spending time on something that feels “unproductive.” We put it on the backburner—sometimes for years. We tell ourselves we "don’t have time.”
“I don’t have time to meditate”
“I don’t have time to dance”
“I don’t have time to chat”
“I don’t have time to doodle.”
We have time. YOU have time.
No matter how busy you are, somewhere in your day, you have time! What you haven’t been giving yourself is permission. You have to allow yourself to take the time, even if it feels silly or self-indulgent.
A doodle break can be just 5 minutes long. It doesn’t require any special knowledge or equipment. All you have to do … is let yourself do it.
When you doodle, your only goal is to make marks on the paper. It doesn’t matter what the marks are. Simply enjoy the feeling of a pen moving on the page. Give yourself that tiny space where you don’t have to think about your day, and you don’t have to move on to the next thing.
You don’t have to be “good at drawing.” You don’t have to be “artistic.” Whatever judgements are in your mind about why you can’t do this are just thoughts, not truths. Anyone can doodle if they’re given access to a writing implement, even babies and toddlers doodle (all over your walls and furniture).
Consider this your ‘permission slip’ to take 5 minutes just for you. Grab a pen and give yourself permission to just…doodle. Let go of your worries about being good enough or getting something “productive” done, just for a short while. The result doesn’t have to be beautiful; it just needs to exist.
Try letting yourself play for 5 (or even 10) minutes. Give yourself permission to do this tiny thing every day for a week.
Try it—and then come back and let me know how it goes.
Quote of the week
“Give yourself permission to rest. You don't have to be 'on' all the time"Unknown