How to Make SKIM Drawings to Reduce Stress and Improve Creative Flow

Conflicting thoughts, emotions, and an over-analyzing mind; add to that deadlines, to-do lists, and other types of head noise. I call this stuff SKIM: the “Stuff that Kills Intuition and Manifestation”. Thankfully, there are some great artistic resources for dealing with SKIM that only take a few minutes and are easy enough for anyone to do.

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Stressed businessman sleeping on a laptop
Stressed businessman sleeping on a laptop

Conflicting thoughts, emotions, and an over-analyzing mind; add to that deadlines, to-do lists, and other types of head noise. I call this stuff SKIM: the “Stuff that Kills Intuition and Manifestation”. SKIM is the emotional debris that sits on the surface of your awareness. It gets a LOT of your attention, and ultimately it slows your Flow.

Thankfully, there are some great artistic resources for dealing with SKIM that only take a few minutes and are easy enough for anyone to do. SKIM Drawings will help you move the energy associated with SKIM out of the head (and body) so you can reclaim the feelings of calm, focused, connected and in control.

SKIM Drawings Can Reduce Stress and Improve Flow

Think: how can you possibly be connected to your Deep Inner Wisdom, or your intuition, or any ‘gut’ feeling when you’re stuck in your head with SKIM? How can you possibly manifest good things in your life when your energetic vibration is stuck in ‘anxiety’ or ‘worry’ mode, even with your best intentions?

SKIM Drawings give you a place to put the stress, worry and frustration associated with head noise: in this case, on a piece of paper. Your drawing allows you to move the energy associated with SKIM out of the body and into the image.

Why You Must Remove the SKIM

Culturally, we tend to ignore the SKIM. We distract ourselves, over-caffeinate ourselves, and just power through it. Biologically, this takes a toll on our bodies. Our nation reports high levels of chronic stress, and illness symptoms associated with it. In fact, 77% of Americans report physical symptoms including heart palpitations and shaking, while 73% report psychological symptoms such as irritability and strong emotions.

Examples of SKIM Drawings from left: 1. A general feeling of chronic stress, experienced as a dense cloud of conflicting emotions including fear, worry, doubt and confusion. 2. A physical sensation associated with situational stress (performance anxiety); in this case a feeling in the heart area; 3. A stick figure depicting various sensations associated with eustress (good stress); this was created in response to general ‘nerves’ prior to a business planning retreat.

The Benefits of SKIM Drawings

SKIM Drawings offer two tangible benefits:

1.      Studies demonstrate that expressive art making can reduce the production of the stress hormone cortisol. This means that there is a measurable biological benefit in taking the time to do the drawing.

2.      SKIM Drawings make the stress tangible. When you view your drawing, you will immediately and undeniably see that SKIM provides a felt experience that is not pretty, and probably not desirable to keep.

More Benefits of SKIM Drawings

SKIM Drawings can also improve stress (and Flow) in the following ways:

3.      SKIM Drawings help to connect your mind-body as you take the time to notice how you feel, then create a depiction of that felt experience.

4.      SKIM Drawings increase your self-awareness as you see your stress in a tangible form.

5.      Processing the SKIM Drawing helps you deepen your insight, showing you how to address and ultimately reduce your stress.

How to do a SKIM Drawing

SKIM Drawings are intentionally fast and easy to do, and simple enough that ANYONE can do them regardless of artistic skill:

1.      Choose a colored drawing media such as markers, colored pencil, or pastel. If you only have a pencil or pen, that works well, too.

2.      Name your stressor. Decide whether to focus on one thing, or on the entirety of your stress (or head noise). Notice the emotions and physical sensations that start to come up for you.

3.      Select several colors in direct reference to an emotional or physical sensation. For example, if you wish to express ‘happy’ you might pick a bright yellow or light blue. Whereas, if you wish to express ‘frustration’ you might pick red or black.

4.      Draw lines and shapes representative of the emotions or sensation. ‘Fear’ might be expressed by tight circles or jagged lines. ‘Calm’ might be expressed by parallel or smooth lines. ‘Confusion’ or ‘frustration’ might be a tight cloud of swirly lines.

How to Process Your SKIM Drawing

Processing is a form of translating the deeper meaning in your artwork. It works because your image (even if it is a series of scribbles) is symbolic and derived from a different part of your brain than the part that generates the analytical, list making, over-thinking SKIM.

To process your drawing:

1.      Quietly observe the artwork.

2.      Journal with your artwork as if it were your friend. Ask your drawing: what wisdom do you have to share? How do I deal with the stresses that it depicts? What one to three actions can I take? What does my Deep Inner Wisdom have to say about this today?

3.      Answer the questions from the perspective of your drawing. PRO ART THERAPY TIP: try writing your answers with your non-dominant hand (the hand you don’t usually write with). This will feel and look awkward, but your answers will be brief and to the point! (Note: Non-dominant handwriting can sometimes be anxiety provoking; if this happens for you, not to worry! Simply proceed with journaling with your dominant hand).

Practice Regularly for Increased Flow

Be curious about your processing, and open to what your artwork has to say. Most often, it has a quiet, reassuring voice. The important thing to note is that this reassurance ultimately does not come from the artwork—it comes from YOU. It is the voice of your Deep Inner Wisdom.

With practice, you’ll learn to check in with that creative Voice more often. You will also learn to TRUST that voice as you begin to experience the benefits of reduced stress and increased creative Flow.

Originally published at

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