It's been a weird month.
I mean, how is it already mid April? It feels like it was only just the beginning of March, when everything was still sort of normal. When I had a routine (sort of), and friends to visit, and normal daily activities which have somehow dropped off the radar. It's like, I have plenty of TIME to do things... what I seem to be lacking is the motivation.
Luckily, I'm a writer for a living. That means I'm pretty well able to express what's happening inside of me through words. Sometimes they come out as poems. Sometimes as short stories. Sometimes as screenplays or narratives. Sometimes even as song lyrics, which my husband thinks is hysterical.
I keep a journal where I write down everything. The good. The bad. The ugly. The downright scary. Honestly, if someone took a peak inside my journal, I'd probably be committed to an institution. But at least it's an outlet, you know?
And then it struck me. What would I do if I didn't have that as an outlet? I'd feel pretty cooped up inside my own head. Anxious, scared, angry. So as a writer, here are my top tips for capturing how you're feeling and finding a way to release it.
1 Reflect on what's happening in your life
Humans are funny creatures. There's a lot of studies to show we have what's called a negative bias, meaning we tend to focus more on the worrying and the bad, than on the satisfying and the good. There's probably an evolutionary reason for this, but it can mean we don't stop to just reflect on how we're feeling.
If you're a woman, you also have the added bonus of layering your emotions on top of one another. Guilt on top of sadness on top of fear on top of anger. It's no wonder you snap.
It's no wonder the strangest thing sets you off. It's not actually your partner crunching their cereal too loudly. It's that you're experiencing anger and don't know how to trace it back to it's source.
Don't overthink it, just jot down 10 key words of things happening in your life right now. The first ones you think of are probably the right ones. They don't have to make sense to anyone but you.
2 Reflect on how you're FEELING
This may sound obvious, but a lot of us don't actually know how we're feeling because we mask it with things like wine, Netflix, exercise or Facebook. Set a timer on your phone for 5 minutes. Just 5. Then, put the phone down and just sit. Don't check your watch. Don't touch your phone. Don't move around or get up.
Sit and let your thoughts happen.
Then, when the 5 minutes is done, go ahead and write down (or use our worksheet to circle) the emotions that came up for you. There may only be one. You may have gone through the whole spectrum. Just be honest with yourself.
3 Connect what's happening in your life with what you're feeling
Now that you've got your key words and some feelings, it's time to connect them. Everything that you're feeling is connected to something - either on a superficial level or a deep level. For me, when I write, I go through this process automatically in my mind. To find the words I need, I have to think about what I'm feeling and connect it to what words I want to use.
You need to do the same thing, so there are some prompts provided on the worksheet below. Use them, modify them, throw them out the window and use your own. Whatever makes you feel comfortable and feels like 'your language'. Try and connect the key words to the emotions until you have 3 - 5 sentences.
4 Reach out to someone and TELL them
This is the most important part. If you're not comfortable confiding in a journal, text or call someone and tell them what you're feeling. This can be a really difficult thing to do, especially if you're not used to leaning on your friends or family in this way, or asking for help.
This is the healthiest way for friends to support eachother during this time. You'd never turn down a friend or family member for contacting you for this reason... so why would it be any different for you to contact them?
Time to connect with your circle. Let them know what's going on with you.
5 Create an Affirmation for Yourself and Repeat it Daily
This is going to be a personal one for everyone, because our values and our lives are all so very different. But there are a few thingseveryone really needs. My affirmation is "I have friends. I have family. I am connected. I am loved."
As I say or write these words, I picture someone I love in my mind. I hold the image of them as clearly as possible in my mind. I focus on it, concentrating on every detail. If you struggle to imagine in this way, use a picture. Bring up an image of a person or people you love and look at it, smiling, while you repeat your affirmation to yourself.
Hopefully these tips helped. And if you ever need to talk, you can contact me at email@example.com