Art Therapy: Creative Writing Exercises for a Healthy Mind
By Lynn Cukaj, ATR-BC www.CreativeExpressionsConsulting.com
Art Therapy for Children, Teenagers and Adults
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 combines mindfulness and creative writing which allows us to express ourselves without judgement. Journaling encourages us to process our everyday life and can be very beneficial during challenging times. The act of reflection in our writing process can relieve stress and provide a healthy way to express emotions. Choose one or more of the Journal Prompt examples below. Finish the sentence and continue writing down your thought process on paper for as long as you want. Allow yourself to draw or create art on your pages if you feel the urge!
My top 5 priorities are….
If I could go back 5 years, I would give myself the following advice:
Something I need to get off my chest is….
I feel sorry for….
A change in myself that I would like to make is.…
I need to let go of….
My favorite thing about myself is….
5 things that make me smile are….
My favorite way to spend a rainy day is….
10 words to describe myself are:
If my body could talk, it would say….
When I listen to [this song], it makes me feel…
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 …
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…
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