When you were a child, you probably drew pictures showing how you felt about having a new baby brother or learning to swim. Now that you’re grown up, you can still use art to process your emotions and reduce stress.
Many artists and therapists use visual journals to help them with their work. Whatever your personal goals, see how images can be part of your strategy for moving ahead.
Benefits of Visual Journaling
1. Articulate your feelings.
When you’re struggling to put your emotions into words, it may be easier to sketch them out. The shapes and colors you choose could be revealing.
2. Increase your willpower.
Each time you update your journal, you remind yourself about the positive changes you are trying to achieve. It’s a simple way to create triggers that reinforce new habits.
3. Manage stress.
Protect your mind and body from the effects of chronic stress. A journal soothes you without any extra calories or extravagant expense. You may even want to carry it with you to the airport or dentist’s office.
4. Stimulate your creativity.
Any art project can trigger innovative thinking. You’ll discover solutions to longstanding challenges at home or work.
Techniques for Creating Your Visual Journal
1. Record your feelings.
Let whatever you’ve been bottling up come pouring out. Ask yourself how you’re feeling. The answer may surprise you.
2. Mark up a book.
Find inspiration by searching for prompts in a children’s story or an advertising supplement. Alter the pictures or the text. Add your own illustrations.
3. Doodle a little.
Even if your time is limited, you can see what appears spontaneously when you put pen to paper. Your free form doodling may uncover your subconscious concerns about your health or your family.
4. Assemble a collage.
Browse through magazines for pictures or collect various types of items you can use. Paste them together according to your own design.
5. Dream on.
Park your journal on your nightstand before you go to bed. You may be able to capture a snapshot of your dreams while your memory is fresh.
6. Add text.
Maybe you want your journal to combine words and images. Invent captions or drop in some favorite quotes. Turn your adventures with dieting or dating into a graphic novel.
7. Note the date.
Try keeping track of the day and time that you update your journal. An ongoing log will help you to see changes or patterns that develop over time. You may also notice how your mood or energy levels shift from morning to night.
Techniques for Using Your Visual Journal
1. Keep it private.
You may decide that you want to keep your journal for your eyes only. Knowing that you’re the only person who will see it could help you to feel free to experiment and divulge your innermost thoughts.
2. Browse online.
There are many websites and forums devoted to visual journaling and art therapy. Look at samples on Pinterest. Participate in a community and exchange support.
3. Collaborate with a friend.
If you tell your friends and family about your journal, they may be interested in joining you. You could discuss each other’s work. You could also suggest themes or materials that you could both work on together.
4. Show it to your therapist.
If you’re already seeing a counselor or plan to start therapy, you may want to incorporate your journal into your sessions. Mention your projects to your therapist and follow their recommendations.