Zentangle art work above by author, Jill Hochman

I used to doodle in class or in meetings.  Well, it turns out doodling is actually helpful for concentration and stress relief.  I was doodling to help me understand, stay focused, and deal with stress.

All of us are experts on stress since grief is a huge stressor.  So, it makes sense that doodling just may help us feel a bit better.  This brings us to something known as Zentangling.

What in earth is that you ask?  Well, Zentangling is really a form of doodling.  Best of all It is easy to do.  It takes no artistic talent so any of us can try it and even like what we end up doing.  It costs almost nothing because the only supplies you need are blank paper and a pen.  And, it has lots of forms and ways to do it. You can go on Pinterest, YouTube, or even Google it and you can find many ways and suggestions.

Be aware that there are some “official” rules to Zentangle; but, you DO NOT need to follow them.  In brief, they go like this:

  • Sit and relax.  Maybe do some type of meditation
  • Put 4 dots at what would be corners of a square
  • Partition your “square” with some lines
  • Start putting little repetitive patterns in the partitioned spaces.

That’s it!  Very simple.

Well, as simple as these rules are, you do NOT need to follow them.  As you can see in this image of one of my Zentangles, I did not follow the rules.  It doesn’t matter because I simply felt a bit better just making the Zentangle.

Here is my strategy.  I keep a little book with blank pages and a pen handy. If I am going somewhere that might be stressful, I keep these in my purse.   When watching TV or when I find myself sitting around thinking of my loss, I pull out the book and just start doodling.  This helps me breathe and relax and helps bring my brain back into focus.  It’s a strategy  that helps me deal with the grief waves we often feel.

You may find the Zentangling can help you as well.  Some research at Harvard suggests that  Zentangling can benefit us as we grieve.

You can often find local  classes about how to Zentangle.  Or, go to YouTube and Pinterest. On line there is a terrific amount of information and ideas for Zentangling.

Try it…. it is not hard, you do not need to be an artist, and you just might feel a little bit better.



Jill Hochman is a retired US Federal Senior Executive. Jill worked at the US Department of Transportation for 34 years. She wrote the first ever standard for licenses for drivers of big trucks and busses. Much of her career was spent bringing people together to facilitate and improve safety and transportation project planning.

Jill met her husband Charlie at work while waiting for a bus and they were married for almost 35 years. Shortly after retiring, Charlie died from cancer in August of 2014. He was diagnosed just 3 weeks before passing and Jill was not prepared to be a widow with all her retirement years ahead– much less be a single mom to a twenty year old son.

Since taking on this completely unplanned widow/single mom role,Jill joined the University of Maryland Legacy Leadership Program in the School of a Public Health, created a fund in her husband’s name to provide food at her city’s interfaith food pantry, and brings to widows positive intentions and healing energy through her work as a Master Reiki Healer.