For me this week has been a fun exploration of creativity and how it can be an essential part of self-care. You probably don’t know this, but I actually have a certification in therapeutic art coaching. The purpose of being an art and creativity coach is to help people use the arts for self-care, self-discovery, and reaching goals.

However, this certificate has been sitting on my shelf gathering dust because despite getting the certification, I’ve been struggling to find ways to integrate the power of the arts into everyday life for everyday people in a way that’s simple and yet impactful. What I learned in my certification course were art practices and projects that felt very one-off. Like, you create this cool project to think about your goals today, but then you just go back to life as usual.

That’s not the kind of thing I want for myself or that I want to share. What I really want are art and aesthetics based practices that are quick and easy to use daily or as needed to bring in self-care and clarity. Like a shot of creativity that can bring peace and initiate change.

Fortunately over the past week I’ve come across some amazing books that show it’s possible to do just that.

The Creative Cure by Jacob Nordby

This book was amazing. It covers the possibilities of tapping into creativity as a means of personal healing so well. This book is full of simple, yet powerful creative exercises, and it actually helped me to start building my own personal practice of using creativity for self-care.

Your Brain on Art by Ivy Ross and Susan Magsamen

The Creative Cure is a more observational book on the healing impact of creativity. Nordby has worked with many people to help them to find personal healing through creativity, so his book is full of beautiful personal observations and feelings on how making just a little time available for creativity can change your life.

On the other hand Your Brain on Art is a full on scientific exploration of the healing powers of creativity. Although these books have totally different approaches, together, they have the same message:

The arts can be unbelievably healing.

As a sensitive person I use creativity for self care

And you don’t have to be an artist or spend an entire day creating a painting to feel the effect. In fact, according to Your Brain on Art, all it takes is around 20 minutes a day of exploring art and aesthetics to experience improvements in your health.

My Creative Self-care Plan

So over the past week, I’ve revamped my self-care plan to include powerful doses of art.

Journaling for Clarity

First, I decided to adopt prompts from The Creative Cure for my daily journaling practice. I’ve used these same prompts off and on in my journaling practice over the years, but I’ve never thought of bringing them together in this way.

Here are the prompts:

Today I Feel…

Today I Need…

(Then after taking a quick moment to reflect on the responses to the first two questions…)

I Would Really Love…

I’ve found that working with these prompts moves my thoughts toward action and possibility. On top of that, they don’t have to take long to answer. Just spending five minutes on all three is enough to make a difference.

Art for Calm

Depending on how much time I have available after journaling, I also use another page in my journal to create Mandala or circle art. The cool thing about Mandala art is that its geometry is found in nature. For example, the shape of circular flowers in bloom are similar.

I believe drawing circle art and mandalas is so relaxing because it’s a naturally occurring pattern. And after creating the initial set-up, drawing a mandala is pretty much mindless.

I find that doing this kind of drawing or even simply doodling after journaling helps me to better reflect on what I wrote. And just like with journaling, this doesn’t have to be a big thing. I usually create a small mandala that I can either complete in ten minutes or do a little at a time whenever I feel like it.

Healing with Music

I’ve always had an interest in sound therapy. According to Your Brain on Art, the most healing musical notes are the notes C and G played together. Without going deep into all the science of this, basically these two notes together resonate with the core frequencies of the earth, and they create a feeling of harmony.

I have a steel tongue drum, one of the most accessible sound healing instruments out there (and it’s inexpensive!), and after learning this, I routinely play these notes to relieve stress.

It’s also fun testing out other notes one at a time to see what feels good to me. But you don’t have to have an instrument to experience the benefits of sound. Simply humming to yourself can also have very soothing effects. In fact, humming can help your body to release the cellular waste caused by stress and anxiety.

Learning to Love My Body With Dance

I suffer from chronic pain, and the worst thing is that feeling of being trapped in my body. I often feel at the mercy of if my body feels like working or not.

In Your Brain on Art, the writers shared how dance helps to reduce migraine pain, improves mobility in those who are suffering from Parkinson’s, and brings joy back into the life of those with Alzheimer’s.

What I see are three different groups of people who suffer from feeling trapped in their body, much like myself.

So I decided to make dance part of my daily self-care practice. I don’t do anything fancy. I simply put on one of my favorite songs and move. I’ve also found that I don’t have to be standing and moving my legs to feel the benefits.

If I’m having a tough day, just bobbing my head, moving my arms and tapping my feet while sitting or in bed is good enough. If the circumstances are right, I even sing along or act out the mood of the song. I find that doing so gives me an extra level of emotional release.

Dance is freeing and takes us beyond the confines of our bodies. If you feel trapped in your mind, in your physical limitations, or simply by your body not being what you want it to be, try dancing.

I’ve found that doing so, even imperfectly, has improved my relationship with my body.

So basically this week has been all about discovering tools and methods that present art as a daily dose of self-care and healing. Do you have any practices for using creativity for personal growth? If so, I’d love to hear about it!


Free Resources

A Journal for Creating Calm and Recovering from Stress for Highly Sensitive People

Paid Resources

Love Your Sensitivity:7 Essential Life Changes to Make After Learning You’re a Highly Sensitive Person