To Clearing the Emotional Clutter
What a week it’s been! I’m happy to say that we’re over the hump and sailing into the end of Mental Health Week on a high note. Reflecting on some of these issues (and especially confronting them head-on) is a major feat. Emotions can get churned in the process and it’s not as easy as some people think to keep that emotion in check.
Back in the day I studied to be a massage therapist. It was a very rewarding career, with zero stress-factor and clients that were never cranky. But because I can’t keep my mouth shut for more than five minutes, it also proved to be a major challenge for me. During one of my courses, I learned about emotional release. No you pervs — it’s not that kind of massage.
When your body experiences a trauma — physical or mental — it can often take a snapshot of itself at that moment and store that trauma in your physical being. When this energy is expelled, say during a massage, it can manifest itself as an uncontrollable laughter for no reason, deep sorrow, a stream of tears, intense fear, etc.
Now, let me say that before attending courses for massage therapy, I never believed in a person having energy. Not like the jump up out of bed kind, I’m talking some forcefield around them. After going through the program and working on people, I whole-heartedly believe in it now. Some people give off very dark energy that sucks the life out of you while others feel very jovial and leave you feeling refreshed. I’m sure these energy patterns can also change depending on how they’re doing mentally, ie: if they’re feeling depressed, anxious or stressed.
To bring it back to our theme of the day… Energy is around us and it’s constantly shifting. Energy can be stored in these little pockets of our bodies and is known as emotional release when it's expelled. I have a dear friend, whom I adore, and when we need to shake some of this funky energy that’s mucking up our mind and hogging too much of our attention, we call it an “unpacking day.” Think of it as virtually unboxing this junk that’s been piling up in your garage — some of it’s meaningless and some of it is sentimental, but all-in-all, it’s gotta go.
These are five ways that you can clear the emotional clutter that’s been weighing you down:
1. Hit the great outdoors (and leave your phone behind)
Ah, my go-to stress reliever. When I’m feeling the flood waters rising and it’s all getting to be a little too much, I grab my keys and head straight to the coast. My favorite spot is a little beach along the Monterey Bay, where the cloud cover is constant, the crowds stick close to the parking lot and the waves often look angry. I’ve sorted through many issues on this beach — and aside from sand-flea bites, I always leave feeling better than I had upon arriving.
Side note, if you’re in the area — drive 15 minutes south to Gianni’s Pizza on Lighthouse. It’s absolutely amazing and the garlic breadsticks won’t disappoint. Hey! Emotional spring/fall/winter/summer cleaning is hard work — and you gotta eat!
Seriously though, being in nature is a very powerful tool to cope with emotional baggage. There’s something that comes over you in these beautiful locales that make you feel like, not only are you so small, but so are your problems.
2. Spend some time revisiting a childhood pastime
Adult coloring books are all the rage right now — and I’m loving it. I have a small stack that I use from time to time. While for me personally, these don’t help with sorting some of the deeper turmoil, they definitely help alleviate anxiety and stress. (Except when your pencil isn’t sharp enough and you color outside the teeny tiny lines.)
I’d suggest setting yourself up in your favorite cozy spot and going to town. I try to set a timer while I’m coloring because I honestly get so into it that I’d look up eight hours later with no recollection of what just happened. (Which is essentially what happens every time I go to Target — but hey, when you’re coloring, you’re guaranteed a good time without somehow spending a couple hundred dollars.)
3. Carve out some time to show some love
Animal therapy is HUGE for so many people. Animals love unconditionally and they seem to just get you and the way you’re feeling. If you’re feeling particularly low, try visiting your local animal shelter and volunteering some time. I know that the animals would love the attention and how could you not feel better after snuggling with kittens and playing fetch with pups? Granted, if you’re like me and get super sad about leaving the animals, this may not be the best option — unless you want to end up with the entire pound living in your apartment.
Alternatively, you could volunteer your time to help people. Assist those in need at a shelter or food bank, or even help kids in an after-school program. It’s heartwarming to hear people’s stories — all they’ve been through, the roads they've traveled and their goals to make their lives better. Plus, these folks are always so thankful that you took the time out to sincerely listen and help out.
4. Get your thoughts out on pen and paper (or keys and screen?)
That’s essentially what this blog is, right? Especially this week! I know it’s scary to get the thoughts out on paper, but it can be so rewarding in the end. Even if you have the intention of keeping it private, writing is very therapeutic. Have you ever written an angry letter to someone, only to not send it (and still feel better about the situation?) I have and it’s amazing.
I’m blown away by the response I got this week on the blog. I’ve had numerous people reach out and share their struggles and tell me how much a specific post had helped them. It warms my icy cold heart from the inside out and gives me goosebumps! If you’re not ready to open yourself up to the world but want to take the first step, try journaling. Notebooks are cost-effective, or if you’re like me and think that everyone is a snoop, try an app, such as this one. I’ve used it in the past and LOVED it.
5. Turn your filter off and talk openly with someone
If writing isn’t your jam but you want to express some of these feelings (to get it off your chest or seek outside perspective) make some time and talk to someone. It could be a family member, friend, colleague or a professional therapist — but open up. In my lifetime (especially when dealing with anxiety and depression) I saw a few therapists. Ultimately, my friends were the ones that got me through the situation and I couldn’t be more thankful.
A word of advice: when chatting with someone, let them know beforehand what you’re looking to get out of the conversation. If you’re just looking to vent or share your frustrations or feelings without getting their input — voice that. If you’d like to hear their perspective, let them know that too! I’ve had a few rifts with not being clear in communicating my desire to just vent without input before — learn from my mistake.
Again, I’m so thankful that you’ve joined me on this incredible journey and I can’t tell you how happy I feel when I hear how much you’re loving it. The next time you’re starting to feel anxious or like you’re slipping into that funk, remember that I’m here, I’ve been through it and now I’m here to help you. Try out one (or more) of these tools and let me know which one worked best. If you have another idea or something that works even better, please share with me on Instagram or Facebook!
Stay tuned for the final installment of Mental Health Week tomorrow. We’re going to wrap up the week with a little white bow and talk about living life in the positive.