How doodling can help relieve stress

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is looming large, ensuring good mental health is crucial. Hence, engaging oneself in an activity like doodling is ideal to drive away stress and disquiet.


Have you ever scribbled at the back of your notebook during class? Or randomly drawn some shapes and figures while waiting for a friend at a cafe? Doodling is all this and much more.

To doodle is to scribble absentmindedly and they could be anything - from funny cartoons, random patterns and designs to animated caricatures. However, the activity is much more than a humble distraction. Doodling has the same effect on adults as coloring books have on children. They are not only an outlet for everyday creativity, but also, act as a stress buster.

According to a study conducted at Drexel University in Philadelphia, art making activities, specifically doodling, can regulate the mood of people and help deal with negative emotions. When repetitive and random patterns or shapes are drawn on a regular basis, the brain is known to slow down automatically, which in turn reduces overthinking as well as negative thoughts.

Image credit: Pradeep Das

Pradeep Das, a Mumbai based artist known for his eccentric black and white doodles, throws light on this further. “Putting down random musings on paper has always had a calming effect on me. It provides a leeway for positive energy to flow in and enables better focus. So, doodling is much more than random scribbling. It is a representation of the person’s cognition,” he says.

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is looming large, ensuring good mental health is all the more crucial. Besides the fear of contracting the virus, lifestyle changes like remote work, social disconnection and repetitive lockdowns is resulting in a lot more stress and anxiety among people.

And, since doodling can be picked up anywhere and anytime, it is a plain sailing activity. The art form is even used as tools to boost creativity, memory and focus at schools, hospitals, prisons and workplaces.

Pooja Alok, a renowned art educator and fluid artist, explains why doodling is therapeutic.

“The act of doodling falls under the no-judgement zone. Individuals can draw whatever they want, purely based on their perspectives. The process in itself is enjoyable and there is no need to worry about the outcome,” Pooja notes.

Some resources and links to help you learn more about doodling -

  1. The “thinking” benefits of doodling

  2. Doodling: An Innovative Therapy Against Depression