Thursday, May 16, 2013

Salves for the Soul

Sometimes I get a bout of melancholy that sticks with me for a couple days and I need to do something to shift my perspective or just ride it out gently. I like to remind myself of the things that help:

(1) A good cry. Possibly brought on by a sad song, a touching image, a heartbreaking movie. It can be completely unrelated to whatever set of circumstances is spawning my melancholy. The simple act of crying is a catharsis, emotionally and physically. Tears even contain hormones that are capable of easing pain and softening aggression. The act of releasing them helps us to feel better.

(2) Art. Sometimes I need to express with art what my words can't. Or just get into the act of creative release, without focusing on a destination or product. Art therapists use art-making as a way to process and understand feelings while bypassing the language center in the brain that can sometimes hinder our emotional expression. The act of creating and working with different materials (tearing tissue paper, creating collages, working with clay, coloring with markers, painting, etc.) helps me get in touch with parts of myself I sometimes forget. My favorite medium right now is papercloth, a very forgiving mixed media collage/decoupage technique that allows me to remain process, vs. product-focused.

(3) Music. Loud, soft, with or without dancing, just as long as I give myself to it and let it flow through me. If I want to get weepy, I go for Iron & Wine's The Creek Drank the Cradle, Dylan's Blood On The Tracks, or Tom Waits' Blue Valentine. If I want to dance and sing at the top of my lungs, I listen to something energetic and rhythmic--my current favorites are Macklemore and Ke$ha!

(4) Mindful Meditation. What is helping me most right now is finding a moment to focus on an intent for the day and find appreciation for what I have. When I'm in a rut or feeling crappy, it's really easy to notice what I don't have. Dwelling on the negative reinforces the message that I don't already have what I need, when in reality I am so very fortunate that I do have what I need.

What works for you to help you feel better when you get a touch of the blues?


  1. Taking a walk! I am my father's daughter. I don't walk as regularly or as far as he did or keep track of how many blocks I walked as he did, though. ;o)

    1. That's a good one, Meanderer! I need to start enjoying more walks.