If you find your mind racing from everyday routine concerns, or you are feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders, you are not alone. Many of us have recently had to make unprecedented changes to our lives to stay healthy, manage a new schedule, and adjust to our “New Normal.” If you ever need a way to re-charge, re-store, or re-connect, now is the time to make ‘Emotional Me Time’ a priority.
Taking time to acknowledge and reflect on how you’re feeling is nourishment for your emotional and mental health. So often we starve ourselves of this opportunity by operating on auto-pilot; saying and doing what automatically comes to us without awareness of our worries and anxieties, both of which may drive unhealthy impulses. Unaware of our emotional needs, we tend to shut-down by zoning out on Netflix, isolating ourselves from others, or eating too much or too little. Our children may act out, and relationships with our kids, partners, and ourselves may suffer.
When we are feeling anxious or worried our brain is concerned with a problem that needs to be solved or a thought causing a response of fear. One effective way to sooth ourselves from distress is to acknowledge our worry or fear, and create a space to hold it, so that you may feel some relief.
Try this exercise: Take a piece of paper and on it trace a circle about the size of a paper plate. Then use colored markers, crayons, or chalks to color in the circle, any way that feels good to you. You may draw a picture if you like, but it is ok to fill in the circle using only colors, shapes and lines. Your only goal here is to fill in the circle until you are satisfied.
While you are doing this exercise -don’t think about it- and your brain will thank you!
Why? Because while you are choosing the colors and moving them within the space of the circle you are giving voice to the part of your brain that is intuitive, feeling and sensory. This is the part that does not use words to be heard but comes out in feelings and moods such as happiness, excitement, joy as well as sadness, anger and disappointment.
It is important to put Emotional Me Time into your routine so that your emotional needs are validated and your mind has an opportunity to focus on a soothing sensory experience to relieve pressure from worries and anxieties outside of control. Coloring within a circle is one technique to use- there are many others including painting, collage and clay. Adults can benefit from using a set of colored pencils or watercolor paint in a personal sketchbook, Teens may like to tear and glue paper to make a collage, and children benefit from using bright crayons that they can hold easily in their hands or scribbling fun scented markers on to large paper.
An effective way to introduce a healthy outlet into your routine is to put it into your schedule. Set aside time at least once or twice a week to engage your emotional self and meet your emotional needs in a healthy way like using Art Therapy. Enroll in virtual individual art therapy or group art therapy sessions to nourish and support your mental and emotional health for yourself and your family.