Art therapy is known to be an effective technique in improving mental and emotional well-being, especially for those in addiction recovery treatment.
For years, therapists have used art therapy to alleviate negative emotions and benefit the addiction recovery process.
Expression through art can help individuals communicate their feelings and take the next steps to recover. It’s known to be therapeutic and supportive in developing self-awareness and exploring emotions. A variety of art project ideas focus on the creative process that is beneficial to the recovery process.
Create a Collage of “Words to Live By”
Negative, judgmental thoughts can cloud the mind, creating a harsh environment in an individual’s head and hindering recovery. Creating a collage of “words to live by” helps these individuals identify who they are and understand the core values they want to live by. A “words to live by” collage can be created individually or in a group setting.
To create a collage of positive words and encouragement, collect the following items:
- Old newspapers, magazines, used books, and paper (can even find words or phrases online and print them)
- Markers and colored pencils
- Cardboard (or thick paper)
The participants will put together inspirational words or phrases that they feel define their core values. Glue the phrases onto the cardboard to create a collage of positive, self-healing words. This project can also promote mindfulness and introspection.
Craft a Memory or Self-Care Jar (or Box)
Pleasant memories with loved ones and favorite places and things are our cornerstones, evoking positive, sentimental emotions that promote healthy recovery. Besides, a self-care box reminds individuals of positive self-affirmations and goals, keeping them on the right path.
Participants can start by creating their jar out of clay, as the process of molding clay can be a relaxing experience. They can also decorate or paint a wooden box that will hold the memorable items or self-care trinkets. The box can also be a simple cardboard box or a box the individual has an attachment to, such as a small jewelry box.
Collect Memorable Items
After crafting the jar or box, have the individuals collect items that remind them of pleasurable, happy memories. This can be anything from old letters, movies or bus tickets, photos, etc. As they fill the jar with these emotion-evoking items, they’ll remember positive moments in their lives and bring up good sentiments.
Insert Self-Care Pieces
If you’re creating a self-care box, have the participants add items that represent to them the idea of support and self-help. Give them a moment to reflect on what activities, people, or things help them feel good. These can be as simple as notes on scraps of paper that mention goals the person wants to achieve or affirmations that evoke positive emotions.
To make a self-care jar or box, collect these materials:
- Markers and colored pencils
- Glitter or sequins
- Craft materials and fabrics
- Old newspapers, magazines, and books
The box itself can also be decorated to demonstrate the individual’s idea of self-care. Encourage the artists to add affirmations they enjoy on the outside. The box will hold items the person can turn to for comfort during troubling or challenging times.
Make Art Through Watercolor
Watercolor, in general, creates soft, beautiful pieces of color that evoke all sorts of emotions. This art form is often used to relieve stress and relax the mind, making it a great tool for addiction recovery. It helps the painter express feelings in a safe and supportive way.
The colors one uses to paint their watercolor art can also depict certain moods or feelings. Many works using watercolor use colors associated with the emotions the artist was having at the time of painting.
Write “Thank You” Cards
As individuals are on the road to recovery, they may have a lot of gratitude toward others who have helped them get to where they are today. Creating thank you cards is a great way to show appreciation and support positive feelings and an optimistic mind.
With thank you cards, participants can also paint, draw, or even craft their cards to put a more personal touch on them. It also relieves stress and frees the mind through creativity.
Create and Meditate with the Lighthouse Activity
The lighthouse activity has participants visualize being lost at sea and using the idea of a lighthouse as a point of guidance. This project is ideal for individuals who may feel lost, overwhelmed, and even isolated. The lighthouse activity is designed to give participants hope for their future.
To start, collect the following materials:
- Paper (can be colored)
- Markers and colored pencils
The activity starts with a guided meditation, where participants close their eyes and clear their minds. The activity leader explains the feeling of isolation or overwhelmingness and how light can be a guide back to feelings of hope.
Participants then imagine being on a boat on a beautiful day, but the weather worsens, and the sea becomes cold and choppy. They are lost and don’t know how to get back, but then a lighthouse appears in the distance. The participants imagine heading toward the light, and they then draw and color their lighthouse, adding words that represent guidance and hope to them.
Make Mindfulness Beads
For many in addiction recovery, a coping mechanism can help individuals cope and deal with specific challenges. Similar to a worry stone, mindfulness beads can become a cornerstone for dealing with anxious and negative emotions. Creating them is also easy, fun, and relaxing.
There are several ways to make mindfulness beads. Before beginning, ensure you have these materials:
- A variety of beads from an arts and crafts store or old jewelry you can take apart
- Some string
As participants create their beads, they’ll be reminded of the meaning of mindfulness and how they can help them refocus their mind and practice mindfulness—and even some meditation.
The participants should use colors that represent positivity and those that they enjoy the most. These enjoyable colors will aid in distracting from anxious minds. They can create a necklace, a keychain, a bracelet, or any string of beads that will benefit them the most.
Draw a Zentangle
The simple act of drawing is in itself a peaceful activity, and zentangles have risen in popularity as a therapeutic use for many forms of mental challenges. Zentangles are drawn patterns inside tiles that help provide peaceful feelings that help the viewer refocus their mind and become present at the moment.
Any skill level of artistry easily allows the participant to accomplish Zentangle—to achieve something in a thoughtful and healing format. All you need to create zentangles are some pens and/or pencils and some paper.
It’s important to remind participants that this activity is not about who can draw the best and that there’s no wrong way to draw zentangles. The main goal of this project is to slow down, be present, and heal.
To begin, each participant will draw four dots—one in each corner of the paper—and then connect them to draw a square border. Within that square, they can draw lines to create as many sections as they desire and begin drawing dashes, lines, strokes, or dots to create more shapes.
They then can simply let their minds free and draw different designs inside each shape, being as creative as they wish. Shade in different areas and use different colors to enhance creativity.
Art Projects Assist in Addiction Recovery
By spending a few minutes to focus on an art project, people will gain a sense of accomplishment and perhaps some insight into their thoughts and feelings. Each of these art projects is a great part of a journey toward recovery and can be completed in a residential treatment center. If you or a loved one are suffering with substance abuse or addiction and want further help, Contact Steps Recovery Centers.