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  • Writer's pictureLynn Cukaj

Art Therapy: Creative Writing Exercises for a Healthy Mind

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

By Lynn Cukaj, ATR-BC, MHC-LP www.CreativeExpressionsConsulting.com

Art Therapy for Children, Teenagers and Adults

Writing offers...

a time to reflect

an increased awareness and insight

a place to let go

a chance to explore ideas

the process of experiences and situations

the practice of positive habit building

the ability to manage difficult emotions and thoughts


Do you want to unlock your creative voice and energy?

It is a way of communicating with yourself

It can serve to mend and heal

It can be insightful, passionate, and revealing

It is not only for creative types

It does not take a long time

It is not keeping a daily diary

It does not have to be shared with others


Creative writing is a healthy way to process feelings and thoughts. Creative writing is not about the product or being grammatically correct, but about the process of engaging in the activity and our creative expression. By engaging in creative writing exercises, we can gain a new perspective into our thoughts and feelings. This process is part of the healing journey to gain a better sense of self and connection to the world around us. A large part of a healthy lifestyle is having a variety of ways to cope with stress and anxiety. Creative writing is one type of coping skill that is worth exploring in depth. The following activities are examples of creative writing that are especially beneficial for healing and growth.



Mindfulness is a frame of mind; being keenly aware of the moment while acknowledging and accepting our thoughts and actions with a non-judgmental attitude. Engaging in daily mindful activities encourages us to be in the present moment, taking a much-needed break from being anxious about the future or sad about the past. Being mindful and staying in the present moment is the foundation of creative writing to promote wellbeing.

Journaling is a harmonious blend of mindfulness and creative writing, granting yourself a space for uninhibited self-expression without judgment. Journaling becomes a valuable companion through life's challenges, as it encourages us to process our daily experiences, offering profound benefits during tough times. Allow the act of reflection to become a stress-relieving and emotionally liberating journey as you choose from the prompt examples below, finishing the sentences and delving into your thoughts on paper for as long as you desire. Embrace the freedom to unleash your creativity, even through art, as you embark on a transformative journaling adventure.


Journal Prompts:

  • Five things I am grateful for today...

  • The best book I've ever read and why I loved it...

  • A place I've always wanted to visit and why...

  • If my body could talk it would say...

  • What are 10 words I would use to describe myself?

  • My favorite way to spend a rainy day is...

  • Three things I would like to change about myself...

  • The most memorable dream I've had recently...

  • A new skill or hobby I want to learn and why...

  • The top five people who have influenced my life...

  • My perfect day from morning to night...

  • A challenge I overcame and how it changed me...

  • The best piece of advice I've ever received...

  • My favorite childhood memory and why it's special...

  • A time when I felt truly proud of myself...

  • The top three qualities I value in a friend...

  • A playlist of songs that represent my life right now...

  • My ideal way to practice self-care and relaxation...

  • A significant lesson I've learned from a past mistake...

  • If I could travel back in time, I would go to...

  • Five things I want to achieve in the next five years...


Positive affirmations can be another creative way to express yourself and open your mind to new discoveries. Expressing a positive affirmation is a powerful way to focus on the good that we want to see in ourselves and in this world. It replaces deconstructive negative thoughts with proactive self-talk. On a sheet of paper, make a list of positive affirmations such the ones listed in this Positive Affirmation blog.


A Gratitude List is a creative writing activity that is most effective when done first thing in the morning or before going to bed at night. The process helps us shape our mindset to appreciate the people, places, and experiences around us. In a journal, write 5 things that we are grateful for, big or small. Take a deeper dive into ways to practice gratitude for a better life.



Writing Prompts: Writing is an instrumental tool we can all use to manage stress. Writing prompts are a great way to get started if you don’t know where to begin.


Choose one or many of the writing prompts below to finish the sentence.

  • This week I observed…

  • I got upset when…

  • I feel hopeful about…

  • When I think about my day, I …

  • Music...

  • Each day brings…

  • Today/tomorrow/this week, my goal is to…

  • When things are challenging, I want to remember…

  • “I am so _____________________”


Quote Piggy-Backs is when we choose a quote that resonates with us and apply it to our own lives. Many times we come across inspirational quotes but this creative writing exercise allows us to go beyond simply reading it, but rather, connecting with it. Examples:


Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles; it takes away today’s peace.

- Randy Armstrong

Write down your worries. At the end of each worry, write the following: “I accept this feeling and I let it go.”

Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love. - Brené Brown

Use this quote to finish the following statements:

I am lovable because….

I show my love to others by….

Permission List is a creative writing activity to embrace self-compassion. In order to let go, we must give ourselves permission to have faults, weaknesses, and imperfections. Having the need for things to be perfect is stressful, and this writing technique allows us to address some of these unrealistic expectations. Choose from the list of writing prompts below to begin the process of accepting yourself for who you are and supporting your journey to achieve inner peace.

I give myself permission to…

Make a mistake doing…

Take a break from...

Ask for help with…

Say no to...

Take a risk to…

Try something new like…

Feel my feeling of…

Trust the process of…

Give myself...


Reframing frustrations is a way to separate yourself from the challenges you are facing to give yourself a chance to breathe and see the issue from a different perspective. Write or draw any of your anxieties or frustrations on a page, being as elaborate as you wish. Then take your page and tear it up. Take the pieces and create a piece of collage art in the art journal. Writing, tearing, and creating show how we feel, express, and work things out.

 

As you explore the different ways of incorporating creativity into your life such as creative writing, you will discover new ways of creative expression. Creative expression is a way to provide a voice for some of life’s difficulties that are too painful to talk about. By writing, we offer ourselves ways to express ourselves in a positive, productive, and healthy manner.


There is a misconception that people need to be skilled in the arts to be creative. Writing is a great way to break through this falsity and opens up the opportunity for us to engage in art-related activities. All humans are creative, and we each have our own unique way of expressing it.

 

For more therapeutic activities and resources on how to incorporate Art Therapy into your life, read more from Lynn's Creative Expressions Blog.

Learn more about Art Therapy and Lynn Cukaj, Board Certified Art Therapist here: www.CreativeExpressionsConsulting.com

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