Creativity And Self Care

Process painting by Jenny Hahn


Art is my profession. Yes, I’ve had the joy of earning some income from varied creative pursuits throughout my life, from caricature drawing to editorial illustration to graphic and web design to fine-art painting. All of these are valuable and have created value in the lives of others. But to me, the most meaningful way I’ve used art in my life arose out of my own need for inner healing and growth. Making images is the outlet that keeps me sane. For the last 20 + years, art-making has been my pathway of choice for recovering wholeness in very personal ways: from healing from an eating disorder, supporting me through life transitions, working with debilitating self-doubt, and simply facing the challenges of day-to-day life. 

Creative expression is an ever-ready and available self-care tool that can hear, hold and transmute pain. I’m not just talking about painting…even a scrap of paper and a pen or marker can hold space for our innermost needs and invite expression, whether through drawing, writing, or both. In times of need when I can’t get to my paints, sometimes I use a journal or a sheet of paper and simply doodle. There’s something soothing about doodling, especially repeating the same shape over and over again (for me, it’s often spirals that look like snail shells…for you it might be something else.) Giving myself that space for expression, without judgment, feels like the compassionate adult me asking my inner child, “My darling, what do you need right now? I am here for you.” 

I believe it’s important to take meaningful action in the world to affect positive change. AND it’s also just as important to tend to what’s inside of us, so that we’re not driven by a need to escape or project or fix, but so that we can be led by true inspired action when it bubbles up. I believe that we’re each microcosms of the whole, and that when we work to heal ourselves, we do in fact contribute to the healing of the world.

Self care doodles


If you would like support in tapping your own inner expression, I invite you to join me for a 4-week series at Unity Village through the Unity Arts Ministry next month, Feb 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th: “Living in the Creative Flow: A process painting series.” No art experience is necessary, and all are welcome.