EMOTIONAL EXPRESSION For people who are uncomfortable talking about their emotions, there are other ways to get the benefits of self-expression.
Even though I love talking, conversationally and professionally, talking is not for everyone. And even if you are a good talker, there are times when talking just doesn’t cut it.
In my role as a therapist, I’m always encouraging people to talk more, open up about their feelings and feel the benefit of being genuinely heard by another person. But for those less inclined towards spilling out their emotions verbally, there are other ways to get the benefits of self-expression. You just have to find the way that works for you.
Many people groan when I mention writing to them, which I do a lot! It’s definitely one of my favourite modes of expression. Don’t immediately knock it even if you haven’t put pen to paper since your school English exams.
It doesn’t have to be pretty or even make sense. It’s about getting how you are feeling in that moment down onto the paper. It can be a poem, a song, a rap, a story or just plain gibberish.
Try starting with ‘I feel…’ and go from there. Burn it or delete it afterwards if you are worried about others reading it. If you feel the benefits and want to do more, check out some of the therapeutic writing exercises online.
This has little to do with artistic ability and a lot to do with being able to freely let your emotions come out through drawing, painting or any type of creative style that suits you in that moment.
The aim is not to create a masterpiece, but rather to letting go of painful emotions. No one has to see the results. It is for your own benefit only.
Have you ever heard of ‘pounding the pavement’, ‘sweating it out’ or ‘punching the punch bag as hard as you can’? Whether it’s for the feel-good endorphins, for the physical release of pent-up emotions or for its destressing benefits, exercise is a wonderful way to give a boost to your mental health. It is a physically and emotionally healthy option if talking is not your thing.
Do you dance in the kitchen when no one is looking? Or do you wait until late at night when a few drinks have been had? Or maybe you go to a Zumba class? Most of us at some time or another have experienced what it is like to dance and how good we feel whilst doing it or afterwards. Using dance to express emotion is not a new concept. For many years, people have used dance to shake away their anger, frustration, sorrow and fear, and, of course, express happiness.
It can be listening to music and relating to the lyrics and tone of the songs. Or it can be writing music or song lyrics. Or it can be playing an instrument. Is there anyone who can say they haven’t been touched by music in some way? Letting music help you release emotions is an easy way to access and express what is inside.
I encourage you to try some or all of the above and see which you like the best. Even if you are a talker, there is no harm in having a few different options up your sleeve. And if you’re not, why not have a go at these alternatives and see what comes out.
Jannah Walshe is a counsellor and psychotherapist based in Castlebar and Westport. A fully accredited member of The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, she can be contacted via www.jannahwalshe.ie, or at firstname.lastname@example.org or 085 1372528.