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  • Writer's pictureAmanda DeBernardi

Finding Moments of Calm in the Chaos

How mixed media art journaling soothes the busy mind

You’ve tried all of the usual self-care things. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. I see you. 

Me too. 

I love meditation, but sometimes my brain is not on board.

Journaling is great for me, but sometimes I can’t sit still, and trying to force it creates more anxiety.

Getting outside is always great for me, but I live in a place where winter is basically eternal, so sometimes it’s hard to just do it.

I have found that it’s helpful to have a variety of crayons in my craft box when it comes to self-care and regulating my nervous system. There is no magic solution that works every time, and I have come to terms with that. 


There is one thing that has been consistently soothing for my chaotic brain lately, and that is mixed media art journaling.

Art journaling gives my busy brain a break when it feels hard to organize my thoughts into words.

I love the freedom that comes from making something without a plan.

I have permission to be messy. I purposely use low-cost material, upcycled images, and found objects so that I don’t feel any pressure to use my resources “wisely”.

Creating collages in my notebook gives me the space to be curious about how I am feeling and what I need. I don’t feel as compelled to overanalyze my thoughts and feelings as I do with traditional journaling.

Gathering elements from different places, like old daily calendars, thrifted books, magazines, and interesting scraps of paper takes away the brain strain of feeling like I have to create something from scratch.

When I flip back through my art journal, I feel a sense of satisfaction. I can view my inner world through the eyes of an outsider, which releases some of my self-judgment.

My art journal is a place where I can be messy and experimental. I have spent my life trying so hard to appear put together and polished that messy and experimental feel like huge breaths of fresh air.

If you can’t tell, I’m a huge fan.

In fact, I have found art journaling so helpful that I want to share some of the techniques I have been playing around with in case you want to try it out.

Here are my top tips for getting started.

  1. Don’t be precious about it. Start with things you have lying around already. You can use inexpensive notebooks and dollar store markers. Use the watercolor set from the kids’ section. Look through your junk mail for colorful elements. When you use low-cost or upcycled materials, there are absolutely no consequences for messing anything up.

  2. Let go of the idea that anyone else will see your pages. One of the things that blocks creativity the most is the fear of what others will think about what we make. This gets to be for you. No one else gets an opinion.

  3. Don’t plan a damn thing. Just get started. Approach your blank page with curiosity. What colors appeal the most to you in the moment? What are you naturally drawn to using? Just go with it.

I hope you decide to give it a go.

There are so many benefits to mixed media art journaling. You have nothing to lose and a lot of opportunity to get to know yourself on a deeper level. 

If you have any questions about getting started, ask away. If you are looking for inspiration and ideas for your mixed media journal, follow me on Instagram where I post my journal spreads regularly.

Yours in full color - 🌺




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