Ways to Express Emotions

Why is it so important to express yourself?

It is important to find an outlet when faced with difficult situations and emotions. Bottling up feelings can create stress, worry, and depression and sometimes even make you physically ill. In many cases when people have headaches, stomach aches or other physical complaints it can be due to an inability to express their feelings.

Watch: The Science of Happiness – Art for Therapy

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Picture yourself wearing a back pack and imagine that every emotion is a heavy rock. Everyday people experience a wide array of emotions so load up that back pack with lots of rocks. The more you add the heavier it gets, it becomes harder and harder to carry, your shoulders and back start to ache, you start to get a headache and you are feeling sluggish and tired. Now imagine that every time you express one of those feelings outwardly you remove a rock and the bag gets lighter, it’s easier to carry and you are starting to feel better. Expressing yourself leads to a happier and healthier you!

Art for Therapy

Although difficult at times, if you are experiencing a problem, such as dealing with grief, or managing depression, the best way to get help or work through it is to express yourself outwardly and share your feelings with someone who can help. However, talking isn’t the only way to do this; creating art and journaling are wonderful ways to get your feelings and thoughts out!

Art As Therapy – How Art Can Help

Art allows people to express themselves without placing so much emphasis on talking. At times it can be difficult to find the words to share how you are feeling. Art allows individuals to take an internal stressor and externalize it,. It is also a great way to visually work through problems and come up with solutions. Externalizing helps to create perspective; you can take a step back from the problem and look at it. You can even show it to someone else and the art created can facilitate a discussion.

Art therapy isn’t about creating beautiful art or being good at art. Everyone is an artist and the goal of an art activity is to express your unique self!

“The artist is not a special kind of person; rather each person is a special kind of artist.” –Ananda Coormaraswamy

Art Therapy Ideas: Drawing a check-in line

A good place to start is to create a check–in line, this is a visual way to gauge the array of emotions you experience in any given day or week. You will need a piece of paper and some drawing materials. Take a moment to think about your week, paying attention to any moments or feelings that stand out. Use a line to represent the different emotions, the line may go up, down, sideways or in circles.

It can be jagged, straight, sharp or wavy; whatever you feel is the best depiction of your own thoughts, feelings and emotions. You can use different colours and if it helps, you can label the days. When you are finished step back and have a look at your check-in line. You might be surprised to see that the whole week wasn’t actually that bad or maybe you look at it and realize it was a pretty difficult week. What areas would you like to see change and how can this change occur? What parts are you happy with and how can you bring more of this happiness into your life?

You can start a check-in journal and do this on a regular basis. It’s an excellent way to put your week into perspective, get your feelings out, and keep track of the events happening in your life.

By Janet Donaldson, Art Therapist
Boost Child Abuse Prevention & Intervention

For more information about the Expressive Art Therapy Group or our programs please visit our website at www.boostforkids.org.