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Creative Outlets for Messy Emotions

Throughout my life, I have often struggled to use words to express my true feelings. Sometimes I simply couldn’t find the right words to communicate my emotions and other times, I just didn’t want to share my thoughts and feelings with other people. What do you do when you need to get your emotions out but you can’t verbalize them or you don't feel like talking about them with others?

One thing that I have found helpful is to use creative ways to express my true feelings. For example, after a weird interaction or deep emotional experience where I struggled to find the right words to identify my emotions, I would turn to more outward expressions. Sometimes this would help me understand what I was truly feeling, other times it would give me an outlet to work through unidentified emotions, and occasionally, being creative would simply alleviate or calm my confusing emotions.

It can be a little difficult or messy to use creativity to express what is on your mind - that’s ok! Whatever feelings come up while you are creating is normal and can speak to you about what you are truly feeling. The things you create don’t have to be perfect - no matter how they come out, they are representations of how you feel and they might help you work through your emotions or give you a new perspective.

Here is a list of ways you can express and process how you feel when you don’t feel like talking:

1. Draw

  • Draw what your emotions feel like for you – Suggestions: You can draw your emotions, what they would look like, what they would do, what they would say, or anything else that comes to mind!

  • Draw your thoughts – Suggestions: You can draw competing thoughts that you have, which thoughts win, or how each thought makes you feel or do…

  • Draw the situation – Suggestions: You can draw yourself in your current situation, what you would change, or what you could do… Or maybe you could draw yourself outside of the situation as an observer, how you feel from outside the situation, how you could impact the situation from the outside…

  • Draw the sensations you feel in your body – Suggestions: You can draw your body and where the emotions seem to settle, use different markings to depict how it feels, use different colors for different sensations in your body, or draw how your body would look if it felt all of your emotions fully…

  • Draw things that make you happy – Suggestions: You can draw your favorite items in your room, draw items from your childhood that bring back happy memories, or draw your favorite place…

2. Journal

  • Write about the raw feelings you’re experiencing – Suggestions: You can try to write for 5 minutes without stopping and without holding back, Write without judgment…

  • Write about what it feels like for you – Suggestions: You can write about how your emotions affect you, write about your bodily sensations and thoughts that come up…

  • Write about how the situation is affecting you – Suggestions: You can write about what parts of your life are impacted, write about how your emotions and actions react to the situation…

  • Write about how you can overcome this obstacle – Suggestions: You can write about the strengths that you have and how they can help you, write about a situation you have overcome in the past, or write about the things within your control…

  • Write about things you have overcome in the past – Suggestions: You can write about situations that have made you stronger, write about times where you succeeded, or write about what you have learned from previous situations…

3. Write a story

  • Write about a fantasized version of what you are experiencing – Suggestions: You can write about the situation happening to a character you create or write about someone experiencing the same emotions you are feeling and what you would tell them to do…

4. Paint

  • Paint your feelings – Suggestions: You can use different colors and shapes to bring your feelings to life…

  • Paint your happy place – Suggestions: You can use peaceful or happy memories to paint your favorite place…

5. Play an instrument or sing

  • Create music with sounds that represent how you feel – Suggestions: You can freestyle or choose sheet music with sounds that match your mood…

  • Sing songs with lyrics that speak to the emotions you are experiencing – Suggestions: You can sing your own song or find one that sounds like what you are feeling or use words that represent your feelings…

6. Write a poem

  • Use metaphors and similes to represent how you feel – Suggestions: You can find other people or objects to compare your situation to or think about what you would like as different objects (ex. I feel like a wilting rose, I feel like a bursting firework…)...

  • Rhyme words that describe your situation – Suggestions: You can depict your situation using creative writing…

7. Dance

  • Create dance moves that represent how you are currently feeling – Suggestions: Freestyle or create a routine that symbolizes your inner thoughts.

  • Dance a routine that tells a story - Suggestions: You can depict a storyline through dance moves and music

  • Dance to music that makes you feel peaceful – Suggestions: You can find music that makes you feel at ease and release your feelings through moving your body

8. Scrapbook

  • Scrapbook what is going on in your life currently – Suggestions: piece together pictures and words that describe your personality and how you are currently feeling.

  • Create collages about your feelings- Suggestions: Use scraps of paper or pictures to utilize different colors and textures to represent your emotions.

  • Make a vision board of your goals and where you would like to go – Suggestions: Find pictures, inspirational quotes, or aesthetically pleasing ideas that represent what you would like to achieve in the future

9. Use Clay

  • Make a sculpture of something you love – Suggestions: you can use your hands to mold a favorite animal, place, or anything else you love

  • Create something that encapsulates your situation – Suggestions: mold a piece of clay into whatever is making you feel a strong emotion, you can even destroy it after if that would be helpful

10. Coloring Pages

  • Color a page using colors to describe how you feel – Suggestions: imagine your emotions represented as a color, then use that color to color.

  • Use crayons and markers to create something using colors that calms you – Suggestions: Use your favorite art materials to create a picture of an object, person, or place that makes you feel relaxed.

11. Create a Playlist

  • Create a playlist with songs that represent your thoughts – Suggestions: make a list of songs with melodies or lyrics to relate to your situations and feelings.

  • Create a playlist with songs that make you feel peaceful or happy – Suggestions: make a playlist of your favorite songs that remind you of what you have overcame, how you have grown, or make you feel empowered

12. Photograph

  • Take photos of objects with certain colors that represent how you feel – Suggestions: Take photos up close of textures that represent how you feel

  • Take photos of things that make you happy – Suggestions: You can take photos of people you love.

These are just a few suggestions of how you can creatively express your emotions. You can choose an option from above or you get creative about being creative! Find something that works for you!

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