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Gratitude Through Art Therapy

Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.    ~ Rumi

Do you ever catch yourself complaining about your life? Do you struggle to get unstuck from the negativity that’s living in your head?! You don’t have to wallow in self-pity–there is a better way. Gratitude is a fool-proof way to get yourself stuck out of a bad mood. Instead of complaining about life’s challenges, you can accept them for what they are and think of all the things you have to be grateful for. Here are a few art therapy exercises to encourage gratitude in your day-to-day life. 


Gratitude Mandala

a woman drawing a sun onto a mandala

For this art project, all you need is a piece of paper and a pen or a pencil. If you would like to add color, you can use colored pencils or paint. Start with centering and grounding yourself by taking five deep breaths. On each exhale, release all the negativity that has built up in your body with a deep sigh, and focus on releasing the tension in your shoulders. Then, start your project by writing down what you are grateful for in the circle. You can try out different ways of writing this by changing up the flow, sizing, and direction of the words. If you don’t feel like writing anything, you can simply meditate on what you are grateful for and draw whatever comes to you in the circle. 

15-minute Gratitude Break

Start by writing or voice recording your current mood. Then, take five minutes to breathe deeply and meditate, letting go of your thoughts and whatever is preventing you from feeling content. Then, think of all the things you are grateful for and draw them out, using whatever you have. You can use scrap paper and a sharpie, a sticky note and colored pencils, whatever calls to you at that moment! Get creative with it. 

Create a thankfulness collage

a collage of green, orange, and a black and white polka dot printSet aside thirty minutes to an hour to focus on gratitude. Then, get out a piece of paper and write in the middle “I am thankful for”. Keeping all the things you are grateful for in mind, decorate your paper with drawings, words, or images from a newspaper or magazine pasted on to the paper. Making a collage is a great way to get in the present moment. That is because it puts you into a meditative state, making it easier for you to let go of your worries about the past and the future. Instead, you’re focusing your attention solely on what you are creating, and all the ways you feel grateful in that moment!

Make a gratitude jar

Get a mason jar and decorate it however you like, gluing paper onto the jar or using washi tape to decorate with a sharpie. Cut out pieces of paper, and write what you are thankful for. Put these pieces of paper into the jar, and whenever your mood is low, select a piece of paper from the jar and meditate on it. 

Finger Painting

Finger Painting is a great way to get in touch with your inner childlike wonder and to your physical body. When we connect with our child self, it is easier for us to find things that we are grateful for. For this project, get out a piece of paper and your paints and finger paint whatever it is you are grateful for at that moment. 

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Alli Cravener is a social media coordinator and writer who is passionate about connecting people through words. Alli studied English at Arizona State University and has found her niche uniting concept and content in the realm of mental health and the expressive arts. Alli’s interests include painting, history, learning about other people, and wearing the color pink. She likens herself to a “mouse in a palm tree”, and she loves it that way.

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