SELF-EXPRESSION IN TIMES OF CRISIS

Being yourself has never been harder, especially when you’re always at home

Growing up is always a turbulent time, you’re continuously building and learning and sometimes it can feel like a never-ending mountain climb with no end in sight. At this time, your brain is growing and developing rapidly, it’s normal to spiral into bouts of overthinking or emotion, and especially in lockdown you might be feeling a bit more sensitive to all these feelings. You are not alone in this, a survey by Young Minds UK found that 83% of young people surveyed agreed that lockdown had made their mental health much worse (32%) and a bit worse (51%). Often, we feel alone in what we are facing but these figures help us realise that there is a high chance our friends and acquaintances are also finding it difficult to deal with their mental health.

So how do we get out all these bottled up thoughts and feelings in a safe, expressive way? I’ve put together a list of techniques and art forms you can try which are proven ways of getting out the excess brain energy in a healthy, creative way. 

The key to healthy expression is variety. Conquering unhealthy habits is the goal but don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You might not know where to start or what to do but hopefully this list will inspire you. You don’t need to be incredibly talented or creative to do any of these, instead these activities should give you a helpful expressive outlet. 

In this post, I wanted to offer some practical steps towards navigating the process of growing up in a time where you may have limited access to your social circle and support network. It can be quite difficult to create our own routine and practice healthy behaviours when we cannot go out and do the usual things we do when we feel a bit under the weather. Having all this spare time naturally causes your brain to go into overdrive, we aren’t getting much input from our environment when we do the same things every single day. Our brains get bored, they need exercise too! 

WRITING

As a writer, you have limitless worlds and ideas at your fingertips. Writing is an incredible form of expression, as someone who uses writing as their main creative outlet, the main bit of advice I’d give is to not overthink it. Your mind is an incredible tool, now is the time to explore what it can do.

Sometimes it’s quite difficult to fully order and understand your thought processes. I recently started journaling myself as a way to reflect and just get everything out without feeling restricted. The beauty of writing is how personal it can be, you don’t need to share it with anyone. With journaling, you can write about how you’re feeling and why, it can be quite a development experience to read through what you’ve written and identify any patterns or even possible solutions. 

Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

DRAWING/PAINTING

The saying ‘I’m feeling a bit blue’ says a lot about how we relate feelings to colours. Drawing and painting are great ways to explore new ideas and encourage mindfulness. It’s always fun to experiment with visual art and to not take yourself too seriously in the process. Draw something using all your favourite colours, experiment with new palettes or even take inspiration from your surroundings.

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

COOKING

My daily walk has been my saving grace in this lockdown. It’s about being connected to everything around you and get out of your mind, try labelling five things you can see & hear around you to stay in the moment. It’s a great way to get rid of excess energy and organise your thoughts. It’s fun to challenge yourself, I recently completed a ten-mile walk, something I wouldn’t have thought I’d achieve.

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash
Photo by Prudence Earl on Unsplash

TAKE CARE OF A PET OR A PLANT

If you already have a pet, chances are you guys are probably spending a lot more time together. Having the responsibility of taking care of a pet can be so rewarding, especially when you realise how important you are to them. Animals are uncomplicated, it’s refreshing to get a change of perspective just by spending time with them and interpreting their different actions and behaviours. 

If you don’t have a pet, start by buying some plants or even seeds. It might sound boring but it’s actually so exciting planting seeds and watching them grow. Even if you get a grown plant, making sure it stays healthy (and alive!) is a whole job in itself. Plants have so many benefits, they purify the air and bring you a bit of nature into your living space. 

Hopefully, some of these ideas inspire you to try something new and change up your routine! The main goal is reconnection, think about the things you love doing. How can you do these things while still staying safe at home? And remember to not put too much pressure on yourself, it’s okay to have off days!

If you’d like to give me any feedback or tell me what works for you, let me know below!

WRITTEN BY

Khadijah Hasan is a graduate from King’s University in London.