The therapeutic effect of the humble sketchbook

IMG_2917Yesterday was weird from the out set – ‘one of those days’. I’ve injured my knee running too much and now can just about hobble around, let alone run. Exercise is really important to me and doing a morning run or session on the exercise bike sets me up for the day, so not being able to do that automatically threw me out of kilter.

What I should have done is given myself a nice lazy morning, maybe lay in bed a little longer, cooked myself a nice big breakfast. But instead I milled around doing ‘bits’, but not really anything at all. The day declined from there until I ended up in a really odd, negative head space. I felt over-emotional, over-whelmed and started to get that ‘oh my god, I’m sh*t at everything’ feeling which I’m sure all creatives are familiar with.

Realising I was in a crappy mood and everything felt too much, I think was the first step to changing it. Kind of like a turning point of my day. I text my husband and instead of being irrational was just honest; ‘Everything feels off today, I don’t know what to do with myself. I feel like I should have got back into bed and started again.’

And he text back with the best response possible – ‘You should get back into bed then. Relax.’

Just the fact that he okay-ed for me to give myself a break and stop beating myself up, gave me this new ‘I got this. This is actually okay’ feeling.

I did not get into bed (although this was very tempting at 1:30pm and hubby had even suggested looking for some clothes for our honeymoon online – very tempting!)

Instead I asked myself a simple question, I’m not sure I’ve ever asked of myself before – ‘What do I feel okay doing?’. I’d been meaning for a while to use a huge sketchbook I had as a place for me to store my old illustrations & bits of inspiration. (I’m a hoarder & I’m not sorry).

I popped on the last podcast episode of ‘how to curate your life’ with Lizzie from SMUG. And then started on ‘The Lifestyle Edit’ podcast. It was so nice to just rifle through my old drawings and papers and stick willy-nilly. It didn’t require thought, or scrutiny. There was no judgement. Just rip & stick. Stick this drawing with that one, this swatch with that colour. It’s honestly one of the most therapeutic things I’ve done in a long time.

It was so simple, but I felt so proud afterwards. And the best thing about it? It had a contagious effect. After I’d done my sketchbook I started sticking bits onto the walls. Within about 90 minutes I felt completely rejuvenated & was ready to tackle a couple of meatier tasks in the evening.

I’ve got a mirror to complete for my nephew’s christening and any other day I might have forced myself to get started on it, in order to feel like I’d been productive and ticked something of this fictitious and never weaning ‘to-do list’ we all have. But actually, I wasn’t in the right head space. I’d have started, messed it up, or over analysed it, hated it, then hated myself (you know in that usual domino effect of ‘this is rubbish = all my work is rubbish = I’M rubbish).

So I guess the reason I felt a need to put this out is to suggest to any creatives out there who find themselves in a similar head space to RELAX, go easy on yourself & then ask yourself what you feel okay doing. And in my opinion, make a sketchbook together, even if it’s just doodles & inspiration. It’s therapeutic putting it together & something to spark your creativity at another time.


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