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5 Ways to Be Your Own Shrink

February 9, 2014

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At times, we all face stressful, painful, or traumatic events that have all the makings of a potential emotional upheaval—the loss of a friend, a bad breakup, a big move. Even the winter weather can bring on a markedly low mood, where each chilly gust of wind seems to push you further away from your normal self.

When you’re in an undeniable funk, you feel desperate to find relief. If loved ones can’t talk you out of it, and it isn’t going away on its own, talking to a counselor can be a great option. But if you’re not quite ready for that degree of intervention (or the hefty price tag it often carries with it), there are many DIY techniques that can help you tap into the same therapeutic process you’d get with a pro. Even if you don’t see yourself as particularly creative or artistic, there are several forms of expressive therapy that can help you move into a more positive place. They nourish your mind, body, and soul, with the result that you feel more connected, and, well, happier! Transport yourself out of the blues and into a new realm of self-discovery with these proven mental wellness techniques.  

DIY Music Therapy: Even if you’re tone deaf, go ahead and sing out loud to your favorite playlist or simply hum around the house. It’s all in the name of music therapy, a treatment for low mood that may involve listening to music, singing, or playing an instrument. You could even attend a live concert and shut your eyes during the ballads, focusing on the feel and sound of the music. Listening to just a half-hour of slow and soothing music may reduce stress and anxiety, according to studies.

DIY Art Therapy: Make a vision board, fold some origami, or just doodle on a notepad. If you’re really artsy, make a sculpture out of molding clay or pull out a blank canvas and some oil pastels. Don’t worry about the end result. You’ll feel the mood-boosting benefits either way, since creating art with various mediums and visual symbols can work to bring your mind and body more in balance. Not so crafty? Visit a local art museum to spark your creativity and free yourself from being occupied by negative thoughts.

DIY Drama Therapy: Delivering lines from a monologue book or other dramaturgy may unearth some of your most hidden, raw emotions. Role playing and using your imagination may help you gain distance from your real life, giving you renewed clarity and also allowing you to work through your underlying feelings. Dust off the Shakespeare anthology from your bookshelf to give it a try. 

DIY Writing Therapy: Pen your own private memoir to help yourself heal, or create a blog, anonymous or not. Journaling or expressive writing therapy may help you to work through how you think about your personal experience, and even how your mind compartmentalizes it. Try to write continuously for 20 minutes, without passing judgment on what comes out on the paper. Start simply with “I feel…”

DIY Dance Therapy: Learn the choreography sequence from your favorite music video or step into a hip-hop class and give yourself permission to have fun and stop judging yourself. Dance therapy has been found to lift spirits, reduce body tension, and lessen stress by raising mood-boosting endorphin levels in your body. You may catch yourself laughing at your coordination skills, or be super surprised by your fabulous rhythm and coordination—you’ll get the mood boost either way.

Have you ever experimented with any alternative therapies to get yourself out of a negative place? Which ones have you found to be the most helpful?