5 benefits of art journaling

red and blue journal with dried leaves and pinecones
mini mixed media art journal with the word bloom on the cover is propped on a rusty tin
one of my mini art journals

Even though I teach workshops on art journaling, I don’t think I’ve ever really shared the benefits of this creative process. So, I thought I’d begin my blog (yikes, first steps) here – with what art journaling is and five reasons you might begin art journaling.

What is art journaling?

Basically, an art journal is a visual representation of something (or some things) in a ‘book’ format. It’s like a regular journal, but with more.

Art journals can include collage, painting, sketches, doodles, visible writing, hidden or asemic writing…whatever it contains, an art journal is really about the process and not the final product.

Like a diary, a visual journal does not have to be shared. And, you don’t need fancy art supplies. You can just use what you have.

So, it's easy, accessible, and you really don't have to consider yourself an artist to create one. But why art journal? Here, I focus on five health benefits. Or, five reasons why art journaling might be good for you. Quick note - in my other life (my day job), I am a health researcher who focuses on.......arts and health! While I haven't gone all academic and citation-y here, I'm happy to share the research if you want more details. 

1. Art journaling provides a release of tension

Feeling a bit tense or anxious? Research demonstrates that art journaling can release physical and emotional tension. Engaging in this practice can also help people to become more aware of the coping strategies they are using so that they can be applied more readily.

2. Art journaling can help with negative self-talk

Because it’s an intuitive process and the outcomes do not have to be shared (remember? process not product) that nasty, internal critic can be silenced. Or, at the very least, that critic might be quieter. There is no pressure with art journaling and no audience. It’s just for you!

3. Art journaling expresses the complex

It’s said that art journaling bypasses the intellect. Some things are just difficult to express in words. Using images (e.g., torn from a magazine or flyers) is a low pressure way to make thoughts and ideas visible. Many times, art journaling also reveals ideas and thoughts that otherwise might remain hidden or unknown, especially if you integrate free writing. In helping to express the complex, an art journaling practice can help strengthen one’s sense of self.

4. Art journaling helps with processing challenging situations

Several studies show that people in caring professions, such as nursing, find art journaling helpful with processing traumatic situations they may have witnessed. Art journaling has been described as a “contemplative practice” that can build resilience. It has also helped health professional students with learning as it can be a vehicle for understanding experiences during clinical placements. Art journaling can be very beneficial for professional development.

5. Art journaling can foster well-being

Research with people experiencing chronic illness shows that a focus on prompts associated with wellness helped participants creatively uncover and document ways to live well with illness. Rather than focusing on stress and anxiety, art journaling redirected their focus toward well-being.

There you have it - art journaling benefits many diffferent groups of people in several important ways.

Ready to try it or rekindle your practice? My online workshop 'allowed to' provides you with the permission you might need to give yourself some time to engage in a practice that fosters well-being. My workshop shows how you can use materials you probably already have to begin art journaling.

I also offer in-person workshops, along with collage bundles that work for mixed media and art journaling, and digital downloads so you can get right to it without having to search for images. Sign up for my newsletter to receive information about current offerings.

I'd love to know what you think about art journaling. Have you tried it? What do you like about it? What else do you want to know about art journaling or mixed media? Click here to get in touch!