It is important and necessary that we seek help and guidance on any healing path. Whether it be from a physician, therapist, addiction counselor, or mentor, having guidance and support throughout our process is undeniably essential. Self-reflection is also necessary, as only we can truly know and understand ourselves and what our needs are. There are many ways to take care of ourselves and provide our body, mind, and spirit with what we need. Creative outlets are just one way to connect with oneself to self-soothe, reflect, and express.
Creative Outlets for Self Reflection & Expression
It has been a well-known theme in the therapeutic communities that creative outlets have been a powerful tool for reflection and expression for decades. Some forms of creativity that have now serve as forms of therapy and mental health treatment programs are dance and movement, art therapy, and self-reflective journaling.
Some Ideas for Self-Reflection & Expression
- Start a self-reflection journal. Journaling is one of the go-to activities that many therapists and guidance counselors recommend as a reflective tool and integrated approach to self-awareness and discovery. There are journals specifically built for self-reflection, and some that are blank for any kind of expression that comes to mind. Individuals often journal about what they are grateful for or goals they wish to achieve. Often for therapeutic uses, writing prompts are used to direct a person’s awareness of a specific phenomenon or part of themselves, which helps direct thoughts and experiences. Some examples of writing prompts are:
- What am I grateful for today?
- What does showing up for myself look like?
- What about recovery scares me the most? Excites me the most?
- What is something I wish others knew about me?
- What part of me do I want to show the world?
- Write a letter to your younger self.
- Write a letter to your future self.
- Write a letter to your present self.
- Things that make me smile.
- Things I can do for myself when I feel sad or lonely.
- Art therapy. Art therapy uses artistic methods to help treat psychological conditions and enhance mental health. It is a technique founded upon the idea that creative expression and artistic outlet can foster deep psychological healing and nurture one’s general well-being mentally and emotionally. Art is used to explore one’s emotions, express feelings, connect to a deeper sense of self, and work on connecting and communication skills. There are many ways to explore art therapy. Though it is a specific therapeutic technique often practiced with an art therapist’s guidance, we can also explore art and creativity on our own. Drawing, painting, and collage are all ways we can explore our own emotions and, in the process, find new ways to gain personal insight and develop new skills. Just like writing, there are some art prompts that can help promote expression and introspection:
- How do you feel today? Draw it out. Try not to focus on what it is or how it looks; just draw whatever makes you feel something at that moment.
- Create spontaneous imagery. Don’t try to make it pretty. Just create what comes to mind.
- Mandala making. Drawing mandalas or working with circles can be a great way to express in a very mindful and structured manner.
- Create a vision board. Using imagery and words, create a board illustrating how you envision your life in the near future. What are you seeking? What can you create for yourself?
- Dance & Movement. Dance has been historically healing and powerful for the conscious and unconscious mind. Using the body and movement has been scientifically proven to be profoundly healing for physical and psychological conditions. Dance and movement therapy use movement and the body to become more aware of emotion, the mind, and self-expression. It promotes self-esteem, connection, and a safe space for expression of feelings. Dance and movement therapy is not like a traditional dance class. It is often practiced privately and sometimes in group sessions, with specific techniques and exercises led by a licensed movement therapist. However, simply dancing in your kitchen to your favorite music can be very healing and expressive. Following a movement meditation or somatics exercise that you found online can also be useful. Though dance therapy is done most potently with a practitioner, exploring one’s own body, somatic experience, and feelings in their own time can be just as healing and essential.
- Music. Music has been known as a healing modality, consciously and unconsciously, for centuries. Many cultures use music as a form of therapy and healing in different circumstances. We often turn to music to help us feel something — sadness, happiness, excitement, or adrenaline. Listening or making music can be very therapeutic, and various forms of therapies have come forth with the use of sound and music. Teaching ourselves an instrument, listening to our favorite songs, or simply allowing ourselves to feel something in response to music can be a way to access deeper parts of ourselves therapeutically.
These forms of reflection and therapy are most often used in clinical and one-on-one treatments and shouldn’t replace working with a therapist. However, exploring some of these techniques on our own is empowering and helpful to the work that we do with our therapists and mentors. Learning about ourselves, our emotions, the mind, and body are all a part of the healing path, no matter what our specific circumstances entail. Using creative outlets as a form of expression is not only healing but very informative. It provides us with a deeper sense of awareness of who we are.
Art therapy, creative expression, dance therapy, and music are modalities that have been used over time for various physical and psychological conditions. These creative arts can help us connect with ourselves, self-soothe, reflect, and express our feelings. At Avalon, we understand how different we all are and the importance of having options like creative therapies to develop a comprehensive wellness program. Whether you are in recovery or dealing with mental health issues or both, these modalities can help heal and create a more profound sense of self and a healthy identity. We encourage individuals to explore different treatment options that will work for them and know that recovery and healing are possible. Our caring staff are experts at helping people find the right array of treatments to serve their individual needs. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call us today at (844) 857-5992. Help is just a phone call away.