“3 Unusual Ways to Move Toward Emotional & Mental Health”
I sometimes totter on the edge of despondency. Especially in winter.
If you are like me, you get stuck in your head and need help moving toward emotional and mental health.
Do you have a secret sadness? Maybe a shapeless grief you can’t explain?
What if some unique and creative activities could alleviate melancholy for people like us?
I have found 3 unusual ways to keep despondency at bay. I’m not suggesting changing anything your doctor has prescribed — just bringing a little color to the palette.
These 3 exercises are not easy — but they are good!
1. TELL YOUR STORY
When I was in my twenties, I had an eating disorder called bulimia. Looking back, I wonder at how much of my story I kept stuffed inside, rarely sharing the hidden parts of myself. Fresh out of childhood, my feelings were trying to surface but I didn’t have an escape hatch for them. This disorder kept me from dealing with the story of my past.
Then I met Scott, who later became my husband. He helped me take an honest look at my life and begin to tell my story. When I told him about my bingeing and purging, it was like a tiny shaft of light broke into my cellar. My heart felt less heavy and I began to let the truth about my childhood come out.
There are many ways to tell your story:
- Talk to a friend, spiritual advisor, or counselor to pop the lid on bottled up emotions. Our negative emotions have a way of dissipating when they decompress and spread their weight across other shoulders.
- Journal. Pen on paper helps disentangle the jumble of thoughts and feelings in our minds and bodies.
- Pray. Our creator knows our weaknesses and fears. He listens well and won’t be surprised by anything we have to say.
- Form a fictional tale from your experiences or current turmoil. You don’t have to be writer to create a character that acts as a mirror. Can you create a short story to represent what’s stirring deep in your soul?
2. WRITE A SONG
I am the kind of person who spins and spins inside my head until I make myself dizzy and sick. Songwriting has helped me work out a lot of sadness, confusion, and anger in my life. In the process, I found a lot of hope and healing.
Years ago, I wrote a song called “Tell Your Story.” As a recording artist, I had the luxury of writing and recording my kind of crazy. Call it music therapy.
Writing a song can be tricky but it’s not as hard as you think. You’ve listened to countless songs in your life and even followed the lyrics on a page as you listened to a favorite artist. What if you grabbed one of those song lyrics you love and used it as a model, a template for writing your own lyric?
- Try to write and sing your lyrics to the same rhythm and melody as the song you are using as a framework. You’re not trying to plagiarize and publish here.
- Connect to the emotion of the song you love and write your own words and music.
- Build on snippets from your journal or a poem that connects to your soul.
- Create a tiny soundtrack with your own melody. Go with the flow of emotion that comes from listening to a favorite song.
See if songwriting is therapy for your soul. If you want to go deeper, here are 10 more unusual tips for songwriting.
3. SING OUT YOUR SADNESS
As a teenager, I belted out a lot of Linda Ronstadt ballads. Singing along with her soulful voice, I found a connection to my own soul. These days, I don’t sing a lot around the house or even in the car. I stay too much in my head and must remind myself to sing.
- So sing in your shower, house, or car!
- Join a band or choral group which can be especially healthful and uplifting.
Time Magazine explained the reasons why singing can lift the spirits:
“The elation may come from endorphins, a hormone released by singing, which is associated with feelings of pleasure. Or it might be from oxytocin, another hormone released during singing, which has been found to alleviate anxiety and stress. Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding, which may explain why still more studies have found that singing lessens feelings of depression and loneliness.”*
Can you bring your hidden insides out to help lift the weight of those heavy emotions?
When I find myself wearing winter blues or spinning inside my head too much, I get to work on one of these 3 ideas. Let me know how it goes for you!
If you want to learn more about songwriting and singing, my handbook/workbook, The Singer and The Songwriter can help.
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