As somebody who majorly struggles with their mental health, it is important for me to monitor it so that it does not deteriorate rapidly. There have been several times where I’ve held in my emotions and therefore experienced the consequences of letting them build up. Over the years I have realised the importance of expressing my emotions and now I try my best to create an outlet for myself. With therapy being inaccessible for many people, including myself, we have to find coping mechanisms and support ourselves.
1 – Speaking it out
If you have someone else to talk to about your feelings then this can be a great outlet and comfort. I find saying how I feel out loud gives me some release and helps me to process what is happening.
However, previously I have felt like a burden when confiding in others as I often invalidate how I feel. At times convincing myself that I should keep quiet about how I feel as others also have personal struggles. Due to this I found myself telling everyone who asked how I’m doing, that ‘I’m fine’. I didn’t want to feel as though I was impacting others, even if they offered to listen. There was a sense of guilt or at times it felt they were only asking to be polite. That’s when I started speaking to myself as a way to release my emotions.
Often I will stand in front of the mirror and just let the words flow out my mouth. When we do not acknowledge our emotions we can begin to normalise the feelings. We may not speak about it and instead brush it off. I found that I could only ignore my issues for so long until eventually it all piled up. The small issues I had eventually became big mountains to overcome rather than small bumps.
Alternatively, I open up my phone voice notes, speak out and record my thoughts. This means I am actively acknowledging how I feel by having to explain my feelings. I can listen back and be reminded of progress I have made.
2 – Creativity
From a young age I have been creative and used art as a way to communicate. Turning how I feel into visual representation can help me to express the way in which I feel in a positive way. At times when it is hard for me to verbalise how I’m feeling, I found that drawing was a way to channel it. Using art to express what you’re going through can allow you to connect with your deepest feelings and emotions. It is also a productive way to do it as it will give you a task to focus on, whilst you are able to release some of your emotions.
3 – Writing it down
Admittedly I have never been able to consistently keep a detailed mood diary, I have tried and failed several times. I usually find that I’m too mentally exhausted to put pen to paper. It can feel like a chore to sit and write how you feel sometimes. However, when I was keeping a consistent one it meant that I did not have time to channel my emotions in harmful ways.
The last thing I want to do after working is to be at home and sit at a table writing long paragraphs about my day. Therefore, these days I will write a short sentence or a word to sum up how I have been feeling that day. This allows me to easily track how I’m doing throughout the week and put things in place if I feel I could be deteriorating. For example, if I’ve written that I’ve felt tired constantly throughout the week, then I can acknowledge I need to rest. On the other hand, if I’ve been feeling positively, it can help me to identify why and keep it in mind. The quicker I see how I am doing the faster I can manage it effectively.
Other ways to channel your mental health:
- Writing how you feel on a piece of paper and then tearing it up.
- Listening to music that resonates with / captures how you feel.
- Exercising can be a great distraction and give you something to focus on / work towards.
UK Services for Mental Health
USA Services for Mental Health
To find services where you live visit CheckPoint, a global mental health resources website. It provides a list of services that you can get in touch with.
Mikayla is a budding Fashion and Graphic Designer, she has her own brand, inspired by Mental Health, called “The Mattah”. Through her brand she discuses her own struggles with mental health and encourages others to express how they feel. When not designing garments and sewing, she also spends time cooking among other creative outlets.