The art of doodling can benefit your health

  • Published
  • By Vera Ensalaco
  • 445th Airlift Wing Director of Psychological Health

Have you ever doodled during a meeting? While doodling is typically associated with distraction or boredom, it is suggested that this form of art can be quite the opposite.

According to a 2016 Harvard Medical School study, doodling can relieve psychological distress thus making those moments easier to manage. It can release dopamine which makes you feel better, helps de-stress and can improve focus and motivation.

Did you know that 26 of 46 American presidents doodled? Don’t ask me how they arrived at that finding. Still as the story goes, Teddy Roosevelt doodled animals and children; Ronald Reagan doodled cowboys and football players; and John F. Kennedy doodled dominoes. Interesting, you think?

In a 2009 study, British psychologist Jacqueline Andrade assembled a group of 40 individuals to monitor a 2.5 minute monotonous and rambling voice mail message. Half of the group doodled while they did this (given the task to shade in a shape) and the other half did not. Unbeknownst to them, their memories would be tested. Those that doodled were able to recite back 29% more information when asked to recall details from that call.

Doodling can also give your brain the needed break without losing focus, somewhat akin to taking a walk for a few minutes every hour you are sitting at your desk. A simple, shortly crafted (under 30 minutes) doodle can help you to remember information, help manage large amounts of incoming information, give your mind some relief and assist in problem-solving.

Keep at it and fine-tune your scribbles. You’re in good company!