Our current climate is unsettling and is bringing out a range of emotions in many of us. Perhaps you’re dealing with cabin fever and feelings of frustration as a result of not being able to get out much under government regulations in your area.
Or maybe you’re feeling anxious about the future or are grieving for a loved one. Some people have also described the pandemic as an emotional rollercoaster; where they feel hopeful and positive one minute, and flat and drained the next.
With many of us staying at home more, and missing some of the normal everyday interactions with friends, family, or work colleagues, it can be easy to either bottle up any strong emotions and avoid dealing with them, or to dwell on them to the extent that daily life feels unmanageable.
One of the most effective ways to avoid either of these scenarios, is to find a healthy outlet for your emotions. A way to express them, that leaves you feeling lighter and more able to cope for the rest of the day.
This can mean different things for different people, and you might need to experiment until you find what works best for you. But to help get you started, here are a few ideas.
Journaling is an incredibly powerful form of self-expression because it allows you to express anything you want, or to be anyone you want – without fear of judgement.
It’s easy for a journal to become a bit like a best friend, because it can go with you anywhere, and you can turn to it when you’re happy, sad, scared, or anything else in between. A journal can also help you to make sense of certain events in your life, so that you can see a clearer path forward.
As well as helping to improve mental health by reducing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression, journaling has also been shown to boost memory and comprehension, lower blood pressure, and increase chances of fighting specific chronic diseases such as cancer and asthma.
Exercise is a great stress reliever and mood booster because it stimulates the production of endorphins (happy hormones), and can also improve the quality of your sleep, and increase your confidence levels.
Many people say that if they are feeling pent up, angry, anxious, and they do some exercise, they often feel calmer, and better able to cope with the rest of the day.
The key to using exercise for self-expression is to find a form of it that you enjoy and that doesn’t feel like a chore. This could be anything from running, through to dance!
Painting and drawing are great forms of creative expression, because they can allow you to put your feelings onto paper using lines, colours, patterns – or whatever else takes your fancy.
And although painting and drawing are skills that can be learnt and developed, if you really want to harness your craft – it’s also something which can be free from rules, time limits, and expectation.
If you fancy just sitting down, choosing two or three colours that represent your mood, and putting a few bold lines and patterns down on the page that might only really make sense to you, then you can! That’s what makes artistic expression so liberating.
It’s easy to feel that because we can’t get out as much as we once did, there’s no point in putting on your favourite dress or wearing a red lipstick every now and again. But how you dress can actually have a significant impact on how you feel and can also play a role in helping you to manage your emotions.
For example, if you’re feeling low because you can no longer attend social gatherings with friends and family, and are getting tired of wearing the same two pairs of trousers every week, then why not pick a couple of evenings to get dressed up anyway?
Chances are, you’ll feel much better for it, and it might also give you the extra nudge you need to schedule a video call with friends, so you can show off your efforts.
It can also be fun just to spend some time experimenting with different outfits and makeup ideas that make you feel good. Some people make a point of putting on a bright outfit whenever they feel sad because they know it will lift their spirits, and boost their motivation.
The wonderful thing about cooking is that the range of options for what you can create is huge, giving you a lot of freedom. It’s also an act of self-care that makes you feel good because you get a tasty treat at the end of it!
Cooking is one of those things that we fall on during happy and sad times throughout life. We do it to celebrate things like weddings and birthdays, and we also do it to comfort ourselves or those around us during times of loss or hardship.
I have a friend who would cook elaborate meals every time she felt stressed out because of work or other life commitments. She would then package it up and deliver it to friends or family members, as well as share it with her housemates.
She would also bake if she received good news or was particularly happy. It became an effective outlet for any particularly strong emotion she was having. And perhaps it could be for you too!
Have you benefited emotionally from any specific activity? How do you express yourself? Have you found any new ways to express yourself since the pandemic started? Please share with our community!