Art for Stress Relief: Making a Safe Place

This is an especially good project for people who have survived abuse or trauma. It’s a way for you to make contact with and solidify for yourself the concept of safety.

Start by finding a box or other container. It can be any size or shape you want. You can get a box out of the trash, reuse a product container, or go out and buy a special box at a craft or gift store.

Next, collect some materials to decorate and embellish your box. You are creating a safe place for yourself inside the box, so think about what that means to you. What colors are your favorites? What kinds of textures to you find soothing? Do you have any symbols that represent safety, security, or trust? Craft stores have lots of great things for this project. Check the scrapbooking section for 3-D stickers and embellishments, the dollhouse section for miniature objects, the floral section for silk flowers and fancy stones, the jewelry section for jewels and charms, and the school projects section for miniature animals and plants.

Now get to work transforming your box into your own personal safe place. You can use paint, decoupage, or tissue paper collage, or any other method to cover the outside of the box. Then decorate the outside however you like with drawing, painting, cut-out pictures, stickers, glitter, glued on objects, or anything else you like. Then repeat this process on the inside, making a scene that feels safe for you.

Allow yourself to have fun with this project and to invest emotionally in it. Find a good place in your home to display it. You can continue to add things to it or change it at any time in the future. You can add special symbolic objects or gifts to it. When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, it’s something you can get out and enjoy and feel soothed by.

I’ve done this project with many abuse survivors over the years and they all love it. Many have told me years later that they still have their safe places and have been adding things to them and changing them over the years.

Here’s a couple of pictures from one of the many safe places I’ve created over the years: