Releasing Tension Through Expression
Expressing yourself can help you keep in touch with how you are feeling. It can also help you release a lot of tension that you might be carrying around. Sometimes, when people lose touch with how they feel, their feelings burst out in situations or ways that are embarrassing or inappropriate.
Everyone needs some time alone to reflect on feelings. Being able to express how you feel might help you make better decisions about what is right for you now.
Ways of Expressing Yourself
Finding out the best way for you to express yourself can be rewarding. You might find that you enjoy expressing yourself in a particular way, like painting, playing a sport, singing, drumming or even yelling into a pillow. If you don’t know which way works best for you, try some of the following suggestions.
Write About How You Feel
Writing can be a useful way to explore your feelings. Some people do this by:
- Keeping a journal/diary
- Writing a blog (anonymous or not)
- Creating stories that reflect what we are going through or have been through
- Writing poetry
- Using journaling prompts
Getting the thoughts out of your mind and onto paper can be incredibly relieving. It allows us to slow down our thinking process and release whatever words are asking to be spilled from us. Through this, we can gain a little more perspective and understanding of our situation without having to share these things with another person if they’re too private or sensitive.
Movement can be a powerful way to express ourselves in a physical way, channeling our energy into something that gets it out of our minds & bodies. How do you like to move?
With sports, there are plenty of opportunities to yell or curse or feel elated when things go well. Team sports allow you to express yourself with others and use your mental and physical energy to release whatever you’re feeling.
If you’re not much for team sports, you can still use physical activity as a way to express yourself. Here are some other things you can try:
- Martial arts
- Long walks
- Weight Lifting
- Aerial Silks
Moving your body also gives you a mood boost! When you exercise and move your body, you produce more serotonin, which is a chemical found in your body that helps improve your mood, sleep, and thinking. If you experience depression, anxiety disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), exercise and movement could be very good for helping you manage your moods and relieve stress.
Even if you don’t think of yourself as an artist, art is a useful way of expressing yourself. Even if you’re not particularly good at any of these, give it a try. You don’t have to be good at it to enjoy it.
Some forms of art you could try:
- Drawing or sketching
- Digital art
- Mixed media collages
- Sculpting, clay or metal
- Jewelry making
- Wire wrapping
- Wood carving or woodworking
- Building small projects
- Cosplay (dressing up as your favorite characters)
- Glass blowing
- Photography, film or digital
There are so many ways to be creative and it doesn’t have to be just painting or drawing. Not only is art good for expressing yourself, it can also be used for relaxation.
Getting the thoughts out of your mind and onto paper can be incredibly relieving. It allows us to slow down our thinking process and release whatever words are asking to be spilled from us. Through this, we can gain a little more perspective and understanding of our situation.
Art Therapy Techniques
Use Music to Express Yourself
Singing along to your favorite songs, creating music of your own, or playing a musical instrument is another way of expressing yourself. Try singing in the shower or in your car. If you play an instrument or sing regularly, you might want to start writing your own songs or music to express how you feel. It may also be fun to sing or play music with your friends.
Music can be incredibly healing, whether from resonating with the vibe of the music, feeling seen in the lyrics of the songs you’re listening to, or by channeling your emotions through the sounds you create. There are an infinite amount of ways to use sound and music to express yourself.
Dance It Out
Dance is definitely a form of self-expression and you don’t have to be a ballerina to do it. Put on some music at home or go out and dance as much as you like in whatever way you like. If you’re embarrassed about how you look, don’t worry. Maybe just try dancing alone in your room with your door locked to get started.
If you’re looking to focus on expressing your emotions through dance, try setting that intention with the songs you choose and try to imagine what you’re wanting to express as you dance. If emotions come up that you’re not expecting, try not to judge them. They’re coming up for a reason.
If you find you really enjoy dancing, you can try joining a local dance group or attend a dancing event or class. Maybe belly dance is your thing. Perhaps hip-hop suits you more. All of it is valid and beautiful.
Use Your Voice
One of the simplest ways of expressing ourselves is through communication. Effective communication is learning how to express your thoughts and feelings in an appropriate way with another person and is an important life skill to have.
One tool to get you started is to ask a friend, or other person you trust, if they have the space or time to talk to you about something that’s been on your mind. This gives them the option to consent to the conversation, in case they’re not in a good head space themselves, and shows that you respect where they’re at. If one person isn’t available, try another. You deserve to be heard.
If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your thoughts with someone you’re close to in your personal life, a school counselor or other mental health professional may be able to help. If you’re in a crisis and need to share things with someone immediately, check out our Crisis Support Resources or see below:
The Crisis Text Line offers free, confidential crisis support via text 24/7. Whether you’re feeling suicidal or having a hard time managing strong emotions, a trained volunteer will connect with you and provide support.
- Text HOME to 741741 (24/7/365)
Teen Line allows you to speak with another teen for support and offers resources online that are relevant to teens.
Text TEEN to 839863
The Trans Lifeline is a suicide hotline for trans-identified individuals. The calls are taken by other trans people and can be used whether or not you’re in crisis.
Available 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. PST. Volunteers may be available during off hours.
The Trevor Project is dedicated to providing crisis counseling for those in the LGBTQ+ community that are considering suicide. All lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning people are welcome to call.
- Call 1-866-488-7386 (24/7/365)
Text START to 678678 *(24/7/365)
- Standard text messaging rates apply
Chat online here
Designed to work best on a computer
Wait time can vary—use the Lifeline or text option if urgent
Whatever it is you decide to do, it should come naturally and be a source of pleasure for you. If you find yourself becoming frustrated with one of the above techniques, move on to another and see how that feels for you.
For more ideas on coping with stress, check out our Developing Coping Strategies article.
How do you express yourself? Share in the comments below!