Creative self-care 101: what it is and how it’ll make your routine not boring?

When we think about self-care, we may think about regular exercise, eating good food, or taking mindful breaks. Basically, all the things that let us take care of our bodies and minds.

But sometimes, all the above activities can feel more like chores than restful time. Especially if we start to set goals for those habits. If we managed to slide off the couch and go to the gym – why not get something else from it? A small drop in weight could also be nice, right?

Creative self-care illustration for Boonly's blog post

Another goal on our list. Not so relaxing anymore.

Luckily, there’s 1 activity you can add to your routine to bring back the relaxation into “self-care:” 

Just add a little creativity to it!

What Is Creative Self-Care?

Exercise, diet and drinking water take care of your body. Creative self-care taps into your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It challenges your status quo and builds confidence in a safe environment:

Drawing, painting, writing, dancing, signing – anything that helps you relax while tapping into your creative side.

There is a lot of similar advice around there regarding taking care of yourself.

  • “Go to bed early.”
  • “Leave your phone in the other room.”
  • “Drink water.”

And while they all make sense – I think there’s much more to self-care than just applying all those tips mechanically. Self-care begins in your head first. When caring for yourself, you want to spend time only with yourself, your thoughts, and your feelings. 

Creative activities allow me to focus on this process. They create space in my mind (and daily schedule) that I can use only for myself.

As it turns out, it’s not only my perception. Science also has a lot to say about using artistic expression in your relaxation time:

Why does creative self-care work?

Do you remember the last time you created something? The fun of choosing colors, textures, and configurations you were drawn to. The feeling of freedom when you pick something based on your impulses and visions. 

A big part of it all was you talking to your subconscious. Self-expression through art allows you to connect with the feelings and thoughts you avoided before. 

A study performed by behavioral scientists and art therapists proves that incorporating art into our lives lowers our stress levels and improves our mood.

Another theory, created by Girija Kaimal – a Drexel University professor and a researcher in art therapy – mentions art-making’s beneficial influence on our decision-making process. According to Kaimal, creative activities help us shape a more hopeful future for ourselves. And that’s something all of us could use in those challenging times. 

Other benefits of creative self-care include:

  1. Boosted self-esteem:

    Engaging in creative activities can help you feel more confident and positive about yourself. It also activates the reward system in your brain.
  2. Improved sleep:

    Artistic activities can be used as a wind-down exercise before bed. Simple activities like drawing or writing can be a great way to soothe your mind after a long day and help you ease into a restful sleep.

    Here is a very interesting (and super calming) video with some art exercises to help you relax and catch those zzzs :
    Art Exercise to Relax Your Mind and Sleep Better
  3. Enhancing relationships:

When you present your art to others, it’s like showing them a piece of yourself. Besides, it opens up a possibility for dialogue and reflection that helps you understand yourself better from an outside perspective.

While sharing art with others, you get to compare their point of view with yours. And that’s a fantastic way to establish a greater sense of understanding and thoughtfulness between two people.

image of self-growth for Boonly's blog post

How to get started on your creative self-care journey?

Explore your interests: 

Think about what activities you enjoy and what you find creatively fulfilling. Some ideas might include drawing, painting, writing, dancing, singing, cooking… or something completely else! 

The best part about creative self-care is that there’s no right or wrong here. If you tried one activity but felt bored by it, there’s no need to put any pressure on yourself to keep doing it.

And hey – this exploration process can be super creative as well!

Set aside dedicated time: 

For every good habit to work, it has to be incorporated into your daily routine. Creative self-care is no different.

Make time in your schedule specifically for your creative self-care activities. This could be a set time each week or whenever you feel the need.

Find a space to be creative: 

Expression through art can be a very intimate experience. You don’t want to be disturbed while trying to process your thoughts and emotions through art.

Look for a space dedicated to your creative activity. This could be a studio, workshop, or quiet corner of your home. If you live with other people, ask them not to interrupt you during the next 30 minutes. Treat your creative self-care as your personal relaxation time. 

Gather materials: 

Gather any materials you will need for your creative activity. This might include art supplies, a musical instrument, or cooking ingredients.

Make sure you have everything you need to keep the creative flow uninterrupted. It’ll make the experience more pleasant and help you return to it regularly.

Start small: 

The best part about art therapy and creative self-care is that there’s no right or wrong way to do anything.

Don’t feel like you have to take up a large project at the beginning. Start small and work your way up to bigger projects as you become more comfortable with your creative activity.

Using Art for Self-Care

Experiment and have fun: 

Don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment with different techniques. Remember that the point of creative self-care is to have fun and relax, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

Here are 8 creative self-care ideas to get you started.

So, grab those brushes or crayons and let your creativity flow. Whichever activity you choose – remember that creative self-care is all about relaxation and having fun. Start small, practice it daily, and see how art improves your well-being and lets you connect with yourself and others. There’s great joy in art – and I can’t wait for you to discover it.

by Kuba