Beat Stress – Write and Express Yourself

Writing can be an effective way to manage stress and avoid being driven to the brink of an anxiety attack or mental breakdown. Whenever you are overwhelmed with emotions that you feel like you are close to breaking point, grab a notebook and pen or settle yourself in front of your computer or laptop and start writing or typing whatever it is that goes through your head.

 

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“There’s simply no better way to learn about your thought processes than to write them down,” wrote Psychologist Barbara Markway.

It is never a good idea to allow stress or anxiety to cloud your mind. Failure to find a healthy outlet to manage physical and mental stress may disrupt your psychological equilibrium or can potentially lead to depression. There are countless ways to cope with stress and writing is just one of the many things you can do. What to write doesn’t matter. In fact, there is also a long list of things you can write about. The important thing is you allow yourself to get distracted by the negative thoughts often caused by stress.

 

Keeping a Journal

Diaries or journals aren’t exactly obsolete. So why not put a notebook and pen to good use and start writing. You can jot down what you’re feeling, whether you’re angry or frustrated or having a bout of melancholy. Psychologist James Pennebaker agreed to this, stating, “The act of thinking about an experience, as well as expressing emotions, seems to be important. In this way, writing helps people to organize thoughts and give meaning to a traumatic experience.”

Expressing your emotions through writing may help calm your mind. It’s a good alternative to having a heartfelt conversation with someone, especially if you are not in the mood for human interaction. Pour all the negative thoughts plaguing your mind into a paper. Don’t let it linger in your head. No one is going to judge or criticize you. Whatever you have written may remain a secret if you wish.

If you are going through problem-related stress, you can write about your problems and all the possible solutions to overcome them. List down what triggers stress or anger or any other emotions you are flooded with so you can always go back and analyze it. Perhaps it may help you figure out the root cause of all your troubles so you can either avoid it in the future or find a way to deal with it.

 

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Blogs and Social Media

However, Joshua Smyth, Ph.D. explains that “venting emotions alone–whether through writing or talking–is not enough to relieve stress, and thereby improve health.” He further emphasizes, “To tap writing’s healing power, people must use it to better understand and learn from their emotions.”

If you prefer to type as opposed to using a notebook and a pen, then you can opt to run a blog. This is an online version of a journal. There are many sites or platforms you can use for blogging, most of which are free. Some platforms offer features that allow you to either keep your entries in private or share them with a few chosen people or circle of friends.

If a wider audience is what you have in mind, some social media platforms allow you to write and express yourself. Some social media, however, may not offer private setting options so you risk having a lot of people read your entries and you might receive unwarranted reactions or opinions which can do more harm than good.

 

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Fiction Writing

If you do not wish to dwell on your problems or whatever causes your stress, writing fiction may be a way for you to escape reality. Write about an imaginary world you’ve created in your head, about fictional characters armed with personalities you wish you had. They don’t need to be perfect. Remember that you are writing for yourself.

Writing may be a good tool to help release all your pent-up emotions and lower stress levels. Expressing your thoughts through writing can be very therapeutic and may be effective in managing anxiety.

 

Resources:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/writing-about-emotions-may-ease-stress-and-trauma

https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=4552&ContentTypeID=1

http://stress.lovetoknow.com/Writing_Helps_Stress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let Painting Reflect Your Emotions –

“Art therapy is an integrative mental health profession that combines knowledge and understanding of human development and psychological theories and techniques with visual arts and the creative process to provide a unique approach for helping clients improve psychological health, cognitive abilities, and sensory-motor functions.” – Jonathan Golding, Ph.D. and Anne Lippert, Ph.D.

Painting may be an effective outlet for managing stress or coping with anxiety or depression or any psychological condition you may be going through. Even if you think you don’t have any artistic bone in your body, it won’t hurt to try and grab a canvas or any art-appropriate paper, a pallet, a paintbrush and a set of paint and start stroking.

Continue reading “Let Painting Reflect Your Emotions –”

Seven Hobbies That Can Help With Depression

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The best management for depression is the holistic approach which includes a combination of therapy, a strong support system and a way to reduce the amount of stress in life. Dealing and overcoming depression will be a long process, and permanent lifestyle modifications will be needed. There is no overnight cure. Experts recommend taking up productive and pleasurable hobbies and interests which keeps you motivated and can hopefully curb the blues away. Examples of hobbies that can aid in mental and physical health:

“By definition, hobbies bring people pleasure. And when they do, they not only make you feel better, but they improve your physiology too.” – Srini Pillay M.D.

Gardening

 

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Tending to plants provides an opportunity to take care of a living matter, which gives you a sense of purpose. Moreover, spending time outdoors will expose the individual to sunlight thus increasing levels of activated vitamin D in the body. A low level of Vitamin D is linked to depression. Taking pleasure in watching your flowers bloom and will be a source of a daily mood booster.

 

Photography

Explore different perspectives and see the world through the lens of the camera.  Learning and discovering new methods of taking a beautiful photo will encourage a person to explore the world and embrace the outdoors. There are photography classes and trips where a group of people takes on a journey to beautiful sceneries to take pictures.

Psychologist Douglas Amorim says this about helping his clients heal through photography: “I’ve been a clinical psychologist for seven years, and I’ve always done theater,” he said. “I wanted to express myself artistically about the importance of taking care of mental health.”

Art

 

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Art is an effective tool for self-expression. The artist has the freedom to express in abstract form his feelings and emotions. It also develops your mind to be present in the now. Art requires concentration and dedication in order not to impede the creative process.

 

Hiking

Exercise is an essential part of the treatment of depression, but undeniably, the motivation to regularly go to the gym usually dwindles after a week or two. For this reason, experts advise to take up hiking instead. In hiking, you can take up different hiking trails and be one with nature as well. Studies show that spending time with nature has positive effects on one’s mood by increasing relaxation and dispelling negative thoughts.

Jennifer Lager, PsyD incorporates hiking into her therapy. “There’s something about getting them out and moving that helps them relax,” she says.

Scrapbook Making

It is more than a compilation of photographs. Sorting pictures will force you to reminisce about memorable events and milestones in your life. Decorating and designing your scrapbook also encourages creativity. Besides, scrapbooking can be a significant activity to share with family and friends.

 

Sports

Try to remember some of the sports that you enjoy playing as a kid or sports that you wanted to try ever since but never had the opportunity to do it finally. Look for a sports group or sports team in the community who are accepting new players. Whether you choose badminton or basketball or any other sports, the important part is you will get your dose of happy hormones, endorphins, through these physical activities. Being part of a team fosters camaraderie and support among the players.

 

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Play an Instrument

Music therapy is a form of play therapy for various mental illnesses. It is scientifically accepted the fact that music is soothing and promotes relaxation. It also provides a distraction from problems and conflicts that a person faces. Learning how to play an instrument will take time and effort; therefore, diverting your attention and thoughts to something more productive and enriching.

The No-Rule Tips In Journaling

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“I’ll bet you write (or word process) daily. If you are like most women, you record only what you must. In an effort to change your mind and your habits, I’ll let you in on a well-kept secret: A pen coupled with paper can serve as a powerful life tool.” – Maud Purcell, LCSW.

Keeping a journal is believed to generate positive benefits. It can also aid in personal growth and development. Constant and regular documentation of thoughts, feelings, ideas, regrets, successes, and aspiration will provide an excellent source of insight into your inner self, your moods, and behaviors. Journaling may also be used for problem-solving and stress reduction. It’s has been proven that keeping the habit of journaling can improve both mental and physical health as well as increased one’s self-esteem. Experts claimed that the statistics on mental illness is only scratching the surface. It gives us an idea of how widespread mental illness is but the real numbers may reveal far worst. It is estimated that one in every three people might be suffering from mental illnesses at one point. Anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and substance abuse can be treated with medication and therapies.

Experts recommend journaling for individuals with mental illness as a form of an outlet and also as a tool for healing; however, many are hesitant in starting this hobby. Some claimed that they feel like they are in school and given an assignment by a teacher. Others might not be good in the written language. There are some of the tips to help individuals who are willing to start the habit but do not know where to begin.

 

Always start with your present situation.

It is so much easier to start with something familiar, before digging deeper you have to first start in the surface. Discuss your current statuses like living situation, routines, relationships and work. Share your hobbies and interests and your likes and dislikes.

 

Just allow writing in the stream of consciousness.

 

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Express yourself in a free flow manner without any edits. Do not concern yourself with trivialities such as grammar, punctuations, and usage of vulgar words. This journal is for you only; therefore, it is a solace without judgment and expectations.

Jordan Gaines Lewis, Ph.D. says, “Writing, as many would probably agree, is therapeutic, and studies in the past two decades have explored the health consequences of secrets, expressive language, and the before-and-after physical and psychological symptoms associated with trauma—an area of research referred to as “writing therapy.”

Start a dialogue with your inner child

Recall all your doubts and fears. Examine your childhood. Is there any unresolved issue that dramatically affects your life now? Do you have hidden anger from someone you loved?

 

List all the things you are grateful for

Practicing a life of gratitude makes lonely days seem bearable. When you are feeling low, go through the pages of your gratitude journal, and it can alleviate your emotions. It can be a boost to happiness during troubled times.

 

Take in the scenery

Appreciate the wonders of nature. Document how amazing the natural scenery through portraits, pictures, and drawing or through your words.

 

Maintain a logbook of successes

Celebrate your success – big or small. It is put everything in perspective. When you feel like such a failure and in a state of stagnation. Go over your achievements and realize how far you’ve reached compared to day 1.

 

Write about your struggles or disturbing even in the third person.

Some might claim that this technique is counterproductive and somewhat in a state of denial; however, it is a method to somehow view the situation from a different perspective giving more insight into the individual.

 

Develop your gut feel

 

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F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W. also shared how writing had affected her positively. She wrote, “I learned early on that writing my ideas out helped me clarify what I was thinking about, whether it had to do with understanding something about myself or finding the best tools for dealing with a client.”

Often, our instincts always give us the correct path to lead; however, since society taught us to reason with logical thinking, people second guess their decisions. Intuition, in ancient times, kept our ancestors alive and safe without the advances in science and technology. Try to regain or further develop your gift of intuition by writing down concerns and questions and taking the time to allow the universe or your higher self to respond. Write down the reply automatically without any filter.

Battling Anxiety And Depression With A Pot And A Ladle

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Good food is important to keep you healthy, and the preparation process may be an effective way to keep you sane. Cooking can be a useful and efficient means of dealing with anxiety and depression or any other mental condition.

Therapists or counselors utilize cooking as a therapy tool. Culinary art therapy or cooking therapy is an approach used to express emotions and thoughts often associated with a mental disorder. The actual process of cooking is known to relieve stress and encourage self-esteem that may alleviate any negative thoughts caused by a mental condition.

Engaging in a productive activity such as cooking is a way to distract oneself from depression. Seeing the results of your creation can also be pretty rewarding. It can boost self-confidence and restore self-worth.

Here’s what culinary therapist Julie Ohana has to say about cooking as a form of therapy: “In a nutshell, CAT combines emotional wellbeing with a very practical real need that we all have. We all need to eat. And certainly, we are all better off if we know and not only feel comfortable in the kitchen but if we can actually enjoy our food prep time and it makes us a better person. That is a whole lot of pluses in my book.”

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Your Culinary Creativity

Whether you take cooking classes or learn on your own or it’s a skill you already possess, you can exercise the freedom to put your culinary creativity into practice. You can look up recipes on the Internet or dig up your grandmother’s timeless recipes or experiment on an original dish and get busy in the kitchen.

Starting with simple, healthy dishes may be a good idea. If you feel like preparing a hamburger though, no one is stopping you. The goal of the food preparation process is to help distract you from anxiety and depression. However, since mood disorders cause weight gain, it is advisable to use healthy recipes.

Food can also affect your mood, so if you plan to indulge in your own cooking, it is sensible to use ingredients that stimulate happy moods such as eggs, meat, poultry, asparagus, peas among others or foods that are known for their calming effect such as leafy greens.

You can be adventurous and try gourmet food. Exploring dishes from other countries are encouraged.

 

Why Cooking Can Be Therapeutic

Do not think of cooking as a chore but as an enjoyable activity that can be rewarding when you see people enjoy your culinary creation.

As most mental conditions cause an individual to feel socially isolated, attending cooking classes may encourage you to socialize and make you feel connected to other people. Cooking for others can advocate bonds, which is beneficial for those suffering from social disorders.

Cooking can make you feel accomplished once you complete a dish. That sense of self-pride can help you see yourself in a better light.

Following instructions in a cooking class or in a recipe can help improve learning skills. This can be an advantage to those suffering from learning disabilities.

The whole process of preparing food can relieve stress, which may seem ironic since cooking involves a lot of work, but if you view it as something entertaining, then it can be an effective stress buster.

On the other hand, Psychiatrist Michael Thase says, “No treatment is perfect and no treatment works for everyone, Thase states. Both experts agree if you have depression or anxiety, your first step should be getting help from a mental health professional. But trying out nutritional changes in parallel with whatever steps you and your doctor decide may potentially bolster the improvements.”

Cooking Can Be Productive

It is better to make use of your time whipping up dishes rather than sitting around and doing nothing until anxiety or depression cloud over you.

Cooking may not only be therapeutic for you, but you can make other people happy when you serve them your completed dishes.

Picking up a hobby is a good way to help stress and emotions spurred by mental health conditions, and you might find the perfect activity in the kitchen. You’ll actually be surprised to find the constant clanging sounds of pots and pans, the rhythmic music of cutting, the bubbly sound of a boiling soup relatively calming. As Jennifer Baker, Ph.D. said in her article, “Cutting tomatoes might not “do it” for everyone, but, for some of us, that could be part of the problem. A problem that cutting tomatoes might actually help solve.”