Tag Archives: Art

Using Recovery Coloring Pages To Help Your Recovery

For many people facing stress, mental health concerns, and even just everyday life, the world can feel perpetually dark. Like a never-ending tunnel, the mind may try to convince you that you are riding a runaway train that fails to find the light at the end. That trapped mind might tell you that the easiest solution is to accept this as your new normal, but deep down, you know that life was never supposed to be this way. Without steps to combat the darkness, many of those stuck in that cycle float through life, never feeling like who they were meant to be.

For those in recovery from substance use disorders without adequate coping skills, this darkness can result in continued use or risk a relapse back into substance use behaviors. Fortunately, life does not have to be lived in overwhelming shadows. With the right support, learning to navigate the difficult emotions, triggers, and stressors that accompany recovery can help create the color and light we need to help pull us from our darkness.

Why Coloring?

At an early age, crayons became tools of expression as we color both inside and outside the lines. From the walls in our homes to the paper at school, wherever we could create color, we tried. For many of us, however, as we age, we forget how powerful those bright and luminant creations were. We often stop creating and put pressure on ourselves to try to fit in, exacerbating troubles and traumas of the past that may have been left untreated.

Helping individuals recover starts by helping them understand that coloring outside the lines is nothing more than an expression of self. It is okay to be different, and recognizing that everyone’s life journey is different starts with the ability to show on the outside what is going on inside. For many in recovery, this starts by revisiting that favorite childhood activity: coloring.

By utilizing coloring pages as a form of art therapy, an individual recovering from substance use disorder can find the colors they were longing for in that darkness. In fact, coloring pages provide a multitude of benefits that go beyond simply practicing art skills.

Coloring Benefits

There are numerous benefits to coloring that can help provide the therapy needed to support recovery from substance use.

These include:


When you’re coloring, the mind can become more focused. Many people with substance use disorders suffer from other underlying conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, panic disorders, or even post-traumatic stress disorders. For many with these types of disorders, the mind is searching to be anywhere but in the current moment. The meditative properties of coloring and focusing on its soothing qualities can actually calm the mind and allow it to exist in the moment at hand.

benefits to coloring

Creating Mindfulness

Meditation is a great way to calm the mind in a moment, but mindfulness adds another layer that allows the mind to process thoughts and feelings. Without the ability to create the necessary space for purposeful reflection, the mind can become stuck in a loop that focuses on the negativities and difficulties of the past. This can cause a person to search for ways of breaking the cycle in unhealthy ways, which can make the turn to substances easy. Coloring creates the openness the mind needs to process emotions in the moment rather than continuing to perpetuate them with unsettled thoughts.

Expressing Oneself Freely

Recovery can be a lonely process for many. Distancing yourself from others can create feelings of isolation and limit the way you express yourself. Through intentional thoughts and choices in color patterns, the feelings one experiences internally can be expressed in new and unique ways. They can be kept to yourself or viewed by others who may be able to more easily understand the complicated journey you are on.


Recovery is a difficult process that is filled with many obstacles and challenges, and it can often feel like a punishment for engaging in an activity you once enjoyed. In addition, you may have given up many things you liked doing during active addiction. That’s why there is such power of entertainment, joy, and playfulness within the recovery process. When you color, childhood memories rediscover their place in the forefront of the mind, where it isn’t just about coloring inside the lines but the joy of creation and expression. This can help to reduce the feelings of stress and anxiety commonly associated with recovery.

Get Started With Coloring Pages

Improved Concentration

With substance use disorders often comes panic and anxiety. These can cause the mind to race and lose focus on the task at hand. Coloring is a low-stress opportunity to regain the focus and concentration needed for other tasks.

Better Sleep

For many people with substance use disorders, including those in recovery, sleep is difficult. Whether it is the result of the aforementioned racing mind, the stress of the potential for relapse, or simply as a side effect of the substance or its withdrawals, sleep can be limited in both quality and quantity. Fortunately, coloring can help calm the mind, which promotes sleep. Much like those who enjoy reading before bed as a way to encourage the brain to rest, those who enjoy coloring may find that it creates an atmosphere conducive to sleep.

Get Started With Coloring Pages

Whether you are taking the recommendation of your mental health and recovery professionals or you want to explore other opportunities to aid in your personal growth throughout recovery, discovering the power of color and creation may be the light to bring you from the darkness. Here are a few ways specific types of coloring pages can help you during the recovery process. Read up so that you can find the one that may be right for you. We even have a few free samples to help start your art therapy journey.

Recovery Themed Coloring Pages

In recent years, we’ve found a number of coloring books tailored to those in recovery. Often filled with positive messages and words of affirmation, the design and style of each page allow artists the opportunity to express themselves while absorbing important messages for the recovery journey. For example, on days when recovery is more difficult, you may choose to incorporate shades of grays and blacks.

On days when finding the light is more necessary, you may turn to the powers of yellows and oranges. No matter what color choices are made, these types of coloring pages allow a dual focus on art therapy and positive thinking. They help you focus your mind on creativity and creation while also taking in the words and making connections with the images. With the help of recovery coloring pages, you may be able to center your thoughts on your recovery journey.

Free Download

Recovery Themed Coloring Pages

Sobriety & Recovery Coloring Pages

Like recovery coloring pages, sober coloring pages provide a creative outlet for managing the difficulties associated with substance use. Found in a variety of options from serious to bold to humorous, sober coloring pages can build upon the unique perspectives associated with recovering from substance use disorders. With each color choice or design element, there are opportunities to express what is on your mind, and if you discuss your art with others, you can draw on the support of those around you.

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Sobriety & Recovery Coloring Pages

Mandala Coloring Pages

Mandalas are derived from Buddhism and are designed using a pattern of geometric shapes, often incorporating a circle as a part of the design or in its overall shape. Many people may be familiar with these artistic designs because Buddhist monks famously create them as a way to meditate and bring calm and peace. Often, these elaborate designs are scratched into the sand. However, just like most ideas throughout the world, it has now become a widespread form of art used in various cultures.

Free Download

Mandala Coloring Pages

A notable psychological study has found that mandalas can help reduce anxiety levels. In the study, free-form coloring was compared to mandala coloring over a 20-minute period. It concluded that those who colored mandalas were able to reduce anxiety levels more easily within that time.

Mandalas were the subject of psychological study in the first place due to the amount of anecdotal evidence to that effect. In fact, Carl Jung knew the benefits of mandalas early on and concluded that they are useful in reducing stress and anxiety because the process was rooted in the subconscious. He also believed that coloring allowed individuals to reconnect with basic cognitive abilities. The research shows that coloring mandalas certainly can be a valuable tool in processing the trauma and other forms of distress that are often experienced by those with substance use disorders.

Creating the Colors of Your Life

Substance use disorder can seem like it’s eliminated the best things from your life, including hobbies, connections, and joys. The ability to navigate emotions, traumas, and even interpersonal relationships can become nonexistent as substance use begins to take all the energy you once had for these important aspects of life. Often, putting off facing these challenges for months or years, living in the darkness can feel like it is the only option. Together, the removal of joy and the persistence of the negative impacts of substance use can cause your world to become a gray, shadowed blur. Recreating the colors of your life by using coloring pages can illuminate new ways of thinking, improve focus, reduce stress, and even help create the space you need to truly see your authentic self inside.

Art therapies

Trauma, substance use disorders, and other mental health struggles do not define a person. They are simply difficulties we must address. Art therapies like coloring can allow the expression necessary to create the mind’s freedom. It isn’t about coloring inside or outside the lines, choosing the right colors, or creating a museum piece; it is about the process, the peace it provides, and the ability to speak in colors and express yourself through a universal language.

Whether you choose to start with one of our free coloring pages or decide to explore one of the many coloring books available online, your substance use disorder recovery can benefit from tools as simple as a box of crayons, a pack of colored pencils, or a box of markers. The same tools you used when you discovered how colors can express who you are or when you first started coloring outside the lines can now help you bring back your light and create the colors of your world.

For more information about recovery and resources to help you maintain your recovery journey, ECHO Recovery is here to help. Our recovery community is dedicated to creating awareness and sharing resources to help end the negative influence of harmful substances in so many lives.


  1. Bobby, J. (2022, August 15). Mental health benefits of coloring. Mayo Clinic Health System. https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/coloring-is-good-for-your-health#:~:text=Coloring%20is%20a%20healthy%20way
  2. Curry, N. A., & Kasser, T. (2005). Can Coloring Mandalas Reduce Anxiety? Art Therapy, 22(2), 81–85. https://doi.org/10.1080/07421656.2005.10129441
  3. Coloring is not just for kids! (n.d.). CHE Behavioral Health Services. Retrieved May 10, 2024, from https://www.cheservices.com/blog/coloring-is-not-just-for-kids#:~:text=He%20stated%2C%20%E2%80%9CColour%20is%20the
  4. Cleveland Clinic. (2022, October 20). Substance Use Disorder (SUD): Symptoms & Treatment. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16652-drug-addiction-substance-use-disorder-sud
  5. ‌Blume, N. (n.d.). Exploring the Mandala. Asia Society. https://asiasociety.org/exploring-mandala#:~:text=Mandalas%20are%20Buddhist%20devotional%20images
  6. American Art Therapy Association. (2022). About Art Therapy. American Art Therapy Association. https://arttherapy.org/about-art-therapy/
 Art Journaling Ideas and Themes for Beginners

Art Journaling Ideas and Themes for Beginners 

As a writer and an artist myself, I’ve always loved journaling. When I was a kid in the ’80s, I remember spending hours in my room drawing, cutting out pictures from magazines for creative projects, and writing in my journal. As an adult, I still love spending time creating things with my hands. Sometimes I paint or sketch a little. However, sometimes I find myself wanting to express myself creatively but feel stuck. It’s almost like having a specific project goal, like an assignment from a teacher in school, makes getting started easier. So, when I ran across the idea of art journaling, I got excited. Even though there aren’t any rules, there is a purpose, and you can create a personal goal for your work. I find that intriguing as an artist.

Although I am just now discovering this idea, I have curated some themes that might help you (and me!) get started on art journaling. Pick one, try it out and come share your thoughts with me in the comments section or on our social media.

What Is Art Journaling?

Art journaling is a term that encompasses the various artistic ways a person might journal, whether to paint, draw, write, document memories, or simply stay creative. The number one rule of art journaling is… there are no rules! That’s right, even though art journaling is a great way to structure and encourage yourself to engage in artistic time, the journaling itself is a free-flow experience. Art journals can contain as few or as many words as you feel led to include. Incorporate pictures and drawings with words, lyrics, or journal entries, or keep just to sketches and doodles. Between the bindings of your blank journal, the world is your artistic oyster!

Our Recommendations:

Great for wet and dry media, including watercolor and acrylic paints, pen, marker and other inks. At 9″x12″ this is a larger sized notebook, so, if you prefer a smaller version, they also sell a 5.4″x8″ version that has 28 sheets, which is 4 more than the 9″x12″ notebook.

At only $9.31 for the smaller version and $14.84 for the larger book, you can’t go wrong with either one as a starter journal!

Incorporating Mixed Media

Blank pages, pens, pencils, brushes, and markers — these are likely the materials that spring to mind when brainstorming for an art journal, but you’re not limited to these only. Consider including mixed media, such as pressed flowers, hodge-podge mementos (travel or concert tickets, petals from a romantic bouquet, a drawing or note from a child), four-leaf clovers from the yard, or cut-outs from books and magazines that catch your eye. This hearkens a bit to scrapbooking or storyboarding, but the mixed media approach can be as freeing as it is fun.

Theme Ideas

If you are looking for specific inspiration on how to fill empty journals, here are a few great ideas I’ve come across. Let’s get inspired together!


Botanicals Art Journaling Theme

Flowers, plants, and gardening are great sources for a themed art journal. Whether your journaling nook overlooks an actual garden or a concrete jungle, inspiration is all around for those with a green thumb. You could even doodle your beloved indoor plants within a room scene.

Botanical prints are increasingly popular as home décor. They look so classic and feminine and can adorn any bathroom or kitchen with a splash of brightness. Create your own botanical prints in an art journal by combining sketches or watercolors of flowers and plants with freehand calligraphy of the formal botanical names.

Even seed packets and gardening magazines are great fodder for floral inspiration!

Our Recommendation:

Dual Tip Brush Pens Art Markers


An easy way to begin journaling is with markers. This pack contains 30 vibrant colors with 1-2mm flexible fiber brush tips on one side and and 1mm fine tips on the other side of the marker, allowing you to create medium or bold strokes. Also, a great product for someone looking to try art journaling without a significant investment upfront as they are priced at $6.99 on Amazon.



Are you a bookworm? It may seem a little meta to fill a book with, well, books, but literature could make an amazing art journaling theme! Combine doodles of books and bookshelves or even the books you own. If you are more advanced at drawing, sketch out your favorite characters or illustrate brush-script quotes on the page. Vintage books are especially inspiring aesthetically. You could even use the mixed-media approach to incorporate quotes, fonts, or pictures.


Buildings are the new stairs when it comes to a satisfying doodle session. Play with depth and perspective drawing skyscrapers with hundreds of windows. Sketch antiquated row houses — think Charleston, Boston, New Orleans, or even the 18th-century homes of London’s Notting Hill. This style of drawing is great for beginners, as it relies on straight lines. It even looks great in ink pen or dark pencil. If you’re a lover of unique homes and buildings, this could be a great theme to start your art journaling journey.


Art Journaling Theme - Dreams

Do you dream often? Are you one of the lucky few adults who can frequently remember dreams upon waking? If so, you may have considered keeping a dream journal. Why not turn it into an art journal?

For example, you could jot down a note or two about what your dream entailed and then sketch out what’s in your mind’s eye or how it made you feel. This would be a great way to process your thoughts and discover new patterns in your dreams.

Loved Ones

A simple-but-beautiful idea is to dedicate an art journal to a loved one. This could take many shapes and forms. It might be sketches, more writing-heavy, or a combination of both, along with other elements. One might dedicate a journaling project to their child, writing down memories of those fleeting young years along with pictures and doodles. Conversely, a journal could center around a love interest, a parent or grandparent, or could even be a way to remember and cope with the loss of a loved one.


Calling all foodies! Food is a work of art, too, right? Though it may not be the most obvious inspiration for an art journal, cooking and recipes may be ideal for the right individual. For instance, you could craftily write out a recipe (particularly something sentimental) and sketch what the dish looks like. You could paste in recipe cards in a loved one’s writing and doodle memories of being in the kitchen! If food lights your fire, enjoy making it your own!

Positive Affirmations

Art Journaling Theme - Positive Affirmations

Most of us know that positive affirmations are a great way to start or end the day. Depending on one’s journey with self-esteem, this can be challenging or even feel a bit awkward. Using art to channel these emotions is a great and rewarding tool.

How this might look in a journal is a personal choice — whether it is more visual or include more writing. Take your journey with self-care and loving yourself through artistic expression!


In various Eastern cultures and religions, mandalas have deep meaning. They are also commonly used in a secular way as part of therapy programs, and they are commonly found in coloring books for adults. Why not create your own? The geometric shapes and patterns within mandalas are thought to be relaxing and centering and to represent organization, wholeness, and the infinite nature of the world around us. Even if life feels chaotic, drawing, painting, or coloring mandalas may help to focus your mind. It may even be a great piece of a morning yoga ritual — adding to your mandala journal. Another great thing about mandalas is that they can be perfectly symmetrical with the help of stencils or more fluid with a freehand approach. Do what feels right!

Our Recommendation:

If you’re looking for something a little nicer, I personally LOVE Prismacolor colored pencils. They are softer than regular colored pencils and offer a creamy texture, almost like marker combined with crayon. This beautiful set has 132 colors, but it will cost you around $75.00. They do have a 36, 48, 72 and even 150 count pack, but it looks like right now all but the 132-count and 48-count are sold out.
You can snag the 48-count for just under $40 on Amazon:

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils



A large portion of creative types love, or aspire to, travel. It may seem like an obvious choice, but traveling is a great source of artistic revelations. A travel-themed art journal could take a few different forms. It could be based around a single extended trip. Are you finally spending that month in Paris? Journal every day you’re there, jotting down anecdotes and sketch your surroundings. If actual travel is not on the agenda, you could document the various places you hope to visit or have visited through the years. This is another opportunity for creating a lovely keepsake with physical items, like tickets, hotel, and restaurant matchbooks, or foreign currency.

Furry Friends

You could create an entire journal of great memories with or sketches of the furry members of your family, both past and present. Not only are animals fun to illustrate, but it is an entertaining and creative endeavor to dream up artistic scenes involving your pets! Have fun with it.

Mental Health

Many artists find creating pieces about their mental health issues is a great way to express their feelings. An art journal focused on your mental health could be a great way to share your emotions without words, process complex feelings and find even find relief.

Art can help boost confidence, make us feel more engaged and resilient. In addition to these benefits, studies show engaging in an artistic activity also alleviates anxiety, depression and stress.

Our Recommendations:

Artistro Watercolor Paint Set


There are a LOT of paint set options on Amazon, but this set is one of our favorites. It comes with 48 colors including 4 fluorescent and 4 metallic colors in a portable teal box, which is great if you want to take your art on the road! The kit also includes 10 sheets of 300g watercolor paper, their exclusive water brush pen, sponge, drawing pencil, brush, eraser and swatch sheet. A great value for $26.99.




Apple Barrel Matte Finish Acrylic Craft Paint Set


Another great art supply product for the price, these Apple Barrel acrylic paints are great for getting started with painting. Acrylics are forgiving as they’re easy to water down and paint over if you make a mistake. This box comes with 18 assorted colors for less than $18.50 and the versatile colors are everything you need to create your new masterpiece!




Artist Paint Brush Set with Storage Case


This 40 piece easy grip paintbrush set might be overkill for some, but if you want to try different types of paint and styles of painting, this is a versatile choice. The set includes 17 Nylon Bristle, 12 Pony Bristle, and 11 Hog Bristle brushes for you to choose from. The brushes and carrying case will set you back about $20, but we think it’s worth it for the quality and amount of brushes.


So Many Great Ideas for Art Journaling!

Okay, now that you have a few ideas, let’s do this thing!

Grab yourself a sketchbook or journal, some paints, brushes, pretty paper, magazines, pictures, stickers, markers, scissors, glue, stamps and any other art supplies that inspire you to create.

Next, pick a theme and set an intention for your new art journal! And, be sure to tag ECHO Recovery on Instagram when you share photos of your creative pieces.