Doodling for better mental health

There are times when we have many thoughts inside our heads but do not know how to express them. Not letting out our inner feelings and emotions can have negative results, including depression.

“In fact, there could be one in three people around us with mental health issues. We need to erase the stigma about this. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Just like how we have antibodies for physical health, we also have that for mental health,” Get Happy cofounder Caecilia Dee Tedjapawitra said during a doodling workshop in South Jakarta on Saturday. Dubbed Zen Doodling, the three-hour event was attended by approximately 60 people.

Get Happy is a non-profit group concerned with mental health.

Dee said there were many ways to channel emotions and maintain mental health and it did not always have to involve psychiatrists or medication.

“Doodling is one of them, and it is easy enough to do even at home,” she added.

Doodle Art Indonesia founder Azalia “Anya” Paramatatya, who introduced simple doodling methods to the event participants, explained how doodling could help a person’s mental state and provide an alternative to turn happiness, sadness, or even destructive thoughts into a productive art piece.

Anya said doodling or scribbling could help people release inner stress. As there is no wrong or right in doodling, there is no pressure to create something perfect. Sketchers can even leave their work halfway through if it is too burdensome.

“Channeling our emotions is undeniably a must. Emotions bottled up inside can do much more harm to a person than what we might think. Plus, when we have a distraction from our negative thoughts, we can do many things,” she said.

Three simple doodling techniques were introduced to the participants during the event. The first was the straight-line method, which required drawing five pieces, starting with a doodle using single lines, followed by two lines, and so on until five lines. The second method was the curved-line doodle, with steps similar to the straight-line method. Last but not least was the freestyle doodle, with a word at the center of the piece. The word could be anything, from the artist’s name to a phrase they chose.

Muhammad Ivan Chasera, one of the participants, said he attended the event to release his stress. Working as a private auditor, Ivan felt he needed to remove himself from the stress accumulated in his working life.

Meanwhile, Hana, an art teacher from a special needs school, revealed a bigger goal. “I find doodling is calming and I think is important for my students as some of them are hyper. I hope this can help them concentrate for a longer time because normally they are very easily distracted.”


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