The Benefits of Creativity in Recovery

When some of us enter recovery, we find huge swaths of free time suddenly available. We used to spend that time seeking out our substance of choice, scheming, or sick, but now we’re left with a hole in our daily agenda. Meetings, spending time with healthy people, and working on self-improvement take up some of it, but many people in recovery, early and long term, realize they need to cultivate new hobbies. Far from simply ‘killing time,’ adding creativity to our lives in recovery can bring myriad benefits to our physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Creative action of the spirit

Creativity feels good, but we know in the recovery process that our efforts have to go beyond things that feel good into things that are good for us. Being creative allows our brains waking time to process events both recent and long term. It is an excellent way to blow off steam or release stress. The act of using both hemispheres of our brains and our imaginations somehow brings our thoughts beyond the self-centered, helping us stay present in the here and now, rather than ruminating on the past or fretting about the future.

To share your work or not?

It’s no coincidence that some of the most renown artists, singers, musicians, and thespians are in recovery; many of the traits that signal substance misuse disorders, such as intense feelings and lack of fitting in, are found in the art world. You may not feel like your creation is ready for the big screen or stage, but sharing what you’ve created is a way of generating intimacy and closeness with others in recovery. You may find that the themes and even details of your work resonate with every person who is honored enough to enjoy it. Another benefit of creative work in recovery is that it can force you out of perfectionistic patterns! It can be tempting to add, revise, edit, and alter, forever. Finishing a work of art, regardless of whether you ‘could’ do more, is a healthy and safe way to practice and recognize your achievements and growth, and fight against the little voice in your head that is full of “should’s and could’s.”

One healthy way to channel creative energy is into a new career or education!  The Ammon Foundation provides financial support for people trying to reach new professional and academic goals. Check out our blog to learn about previous Ammon Foundation Scholarship Recipients, ways to stay active in your recovery, and information for professionals about the recovery process!