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  • Martha Portman

20 Ways to Creatively Channel Depression, Anxiety and Stress

Some of my clients roll their eyes when I do my usual "self-care, self-care, self-care" talk. (Ok, I do this too sometimes). Truth is, sometimes the basic coping skills and self-care techniques that we know about are just plain boring. And sometimes, they just don't work. Here are 20 ways to creatively channel some of that stuck, negative energy that we are holding onto:

Go outside

Being in nature is good for everyone. Did you know that the average American only spends 7% of their time outdoors? Be mindful, take your shoes off if it's nice out and enjoy the colors, textures and feelings that you find all around you.

...And take pictures of it

Sometimes turning into a photographer helps us be even more mindful as we notice beautiful details around us. Play around with this too- some people say self-portraits are a great way for them to channel their negative emotions and be expressive

Or make art out of it. Literally.

Remember those crafts you did in art class as a kid? They're not just for kids. Paint rocks, use leafs as a coloring stencil, press some plants and flowers to make art out of- the possibilities are endless!

Make something old, new.

I get so much satisfaction from recycling old items and making them look totally different- and something that I can use. Being able to transform something can give us a sense of control when we otherwise feel as though we do not have one.

Visit an animal shelter and say Hi to some furry friends

Animals are naturally intuitive to our emotional needs (which is why so many people benefit from companion animals for their mental health). I don't think I've met anyone who wasn't cheered up by petting an animal. If you really love animals and don't have any pets- consider getting one. It is proven to help with stress.

Clean something that's filthy

Again, think transformation. You will feel totally satisfied. And, if you're cleaning your house- you will feel much better in your own space. Your environment is more important than you think.

Cook yourself a meal (mindfully)

Mindfulness and eating healthy- two very important things when it comes to mental health. When I say "cook mindfully"- I mean, literally, be mindful of every step that you're taking- the smells, sounds, and sensations that are involved in the cooking experience.

Take aromatherapy to the next level

Find your favorite essential oil scents and make lotion, soaps, or candles out of them. If you are specifically looking for some scents that relief stress and anxiety, try: eucalyptus, lavender (my favorite), mint or orange.

Buy some plants, and tend to them

NASA did a study on air pollution in 1989 and found that for every 100 square feet we should have 1 plant. Not only does this improve our air quality, it makes us feel better. Remember my tip about going outside? Something about being around nature just makes humans feel better. Try it out. You will also feel a sense of satisfaction as you see your plants start to flourish and grow from your delicate care.

Draw a comic (or anything really)

Drawing out your story can be therapeutic. Drawing in general can be therapeutic when you put your emotion into it. Try painting too.

Create a vision board

What do you want out of your life? Think big, small, whatever- don't limit yourself on this one. Put it somewhere that you'll see it everyday.

Those trendy adult coloring books? They work. Buy one.

And don't forget a set of colored pencils or markers.

Go to the art store

And pick a craft. Any craft. They have so many to choose from.

Get rid of stuff

Sell it, donate it - clear up space in your life and live simply. Our physical environments are oftentimes indicative of our mental space. Free it up!

Take a Class

Glass-blowing, ceramics, woodworking, yoga, exercise- be creative here. Try something new.

Light candles

It'll make your house smell great and will change the overall mood and energy of the room. Try a cup of tea with it too.

Pick up an instrument

Even if you don't play it- try the guitar, a ukulele, buy a small drum, or just sing. There's a reason some therapists specialize in music therapy, you know. This is such a good way to really let it out

Rearrange a room in your house

Your environment = big deal.

And make some wall art

And I don't just mean a drawing or painting. Be creative here. Walk through the aisles of a craft store until you find something that speaks to you.

Sing. Dance. Cry. Scream. Play. Exercise.

MOVE YOUR BODY! And let the emotion move through you. You will not regret it. I promise you will not feel the same after you do this as you did before. (Bonus self-care points if you do it in the rain)

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