What do you do when you’re angry? When you’re stressed? Confused? What about when you feel on top of the world, or overwhelmed with feelings of love? All these times are when you could utilize various kinds of outlets. Your form of expression can provide a break from the stress and anxiety of life, transform some confusing or depressing thoughts into positive energy, or help you create something tangible and memorable from your positive thoughts.
There are many types of outlets; some are creative, others physical, and others are intellectual. Basically, there are as many kinds of outlets as engaging, challenging activities you can think up! So, put on your dancing shoes, dust off that journal, or pull on those gardening gloves, and let’s get relaxed! For more on the importance of outlets, contact Caree Brown to discuss your options for counseling .
Studies show that people who indulge their creative interests experience fewer negative emotions and more positive ones, feel less depressed, and even experience lower rates of anxiety and stress. Creativity makes you happier.
Here are some suggestions for creative outlets you can engage in:
Start a Daily Writing Practice
If you feel like taking a crack at creative writing, that’s great. Otherwise, journaling can be an excellent way to let go of stress, clear your mind, and make sense of your thoughts. Make a routine of keeping a daily journal by jotting down some thoughts and impressions every evening. You might be surprised at how relaxing it is.
Stewart Cubley teaches expressive painting to groups throughout the world. In an interview, he said,
“If you can hold a brush, you can paint. Once it’s removed from the strictures of talent, skill, accomplishment, interpretation, competition, and awards, painting becomes a medium for challenge and change. The power inherent in painting is that it can awaken a wild vein of passion in you that will not go back to sleep. Through listening to your intuition—the color you are attracted to, the placement of the brush on the paper, the shape, the form, the image that wants to be born—a fire is ignited that jumps off the paper and into your life.”
Sing in the shower, sing while you’re cooking, sing a lullaby while you’re putting your children to bed. Singing releases endorphins and oxytocin, which increase feelings of euphoria and pleasure, and decrease stress and anxiety. It also improves your overall brain function and leads to a longer life. Finally, it develops empathy and understanding between cultures and creates a sense of community. If you find you enjoy singing enough, you can join a local choral group and make some new friends while you’re at it!
Dance Like You Mean It
While the physical movement of dance helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, dancing with others also helps us feel more connected and social. Dance classes can encourage social bonds and friendships which are key factors in improving our mood and mental health. There is a wide range of dance genres available including ballet, tap, modern, street, jive, line, salsa, ballroom, Zumba, and Wheelchair dancing; so, you are practically guaranteed to find a style of dance that you love.
Other Kinds of Outlets
Many gardeners view their hobby as the perfect antidote to the modern world, a way of reclaiming some of the things we’ve lost in our busy, dirt-free lives. It puts you into a primal state – which can ease stress, make you more limber, and improve your mood. The food you grow yourself is also the freshest food you can eat.
It doesn’t have to be a whole book – if you prefer, you can try reading a short story, or magazine, or a newspaper article. Just as long as you go beyond Facebook updates, tweets, and the back of the milk carton, you will reap the benefits of reading. Studies show that the type of mental stimulation you get from reading can slow the progress of (or even prevent) Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It could even aid in your career, as those who are well-read, well-spoken, and knowledgeable on a variety of topics tend to get promotions more quickly (and more often) than those with smaller vocabularies, and lack of awareness of literature, scientific breakthroughs, and global events. Bonus: reading self-help books has been shown to help people suffering from certain mood disorders and mild mental illnesses.
Take this quiz to find out What Kinds of Hobbies are for You and get started with an outlet today.
Caree Brown LCSW is an individual and marital psychotherapist in Walnut Creek and Rockridge, CA with over 40 years of experience. She believes that therapy does not need to be a long, drawn-out process; her clients are often surprised to resolve their issues much faster than they expected. Contact Caree today at (925)943-6764 or firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions about counseling.