If anyone reading this article quickly scrolled through a list of their favourite songs, I would bet good money that a fair portion of them come from a bad place. Now, I don’t mean start scouring through the map and seeing where each song was written, but rather that when people feel particularly low or emotional this is often when the creative juices start flowing. Just one classic is the often misinterpreted In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins, which many people believe to be about Phil Collins seeing a man leaving someone to drown then inviting him to a concert only to single him out and sing the song to him. The lyrics near enough suggest such a story so it isn’t hard to see why people think this, but the hit song actually came from a rough divorce that Collins was going through at the time. He has spoken in many interviews about his feelings of anger and frustration and how they were channelled into the song. The reason I talk about this is because for many people who are feeling low or are struggling at any given time it can often be hard to channel those emotions, it is far too easy to get stuck in our own heads and this can be extremely overwhelming. So why not think about getting creative?
Now, for anyone who is a musician or even just enjoys music, songwriting can be an amazing way to get your feelings out of your head and into a creative space. This depends on how musically minded you are, as some people may find that the best way is to write some sort of melody or orchestration, throwing in angry chords here, there and everywhere, whereas some people may just feel more comfortable plucking about with a guitar or piano and pencilling down some lyrics. Now, from my own experience I would recommend something with lyrics, for anyone reading with no access or experience with a musical instrument it is actually a really fun exercise to just pen some lyrics down even if you leave out the music bit. This gives you a freedom to be as deep or open as you like, but even if the lyrics end up being gibberish just the actual physical thing of channelling some of those anxieties or negative feelings swirling round your head onto a piece of paper can lift a huge weight off of your shoulders. The exciting thing about this is that whilst you're helping yourself feel better, you may also be creating something pretty special.
Now, obviously not everyone is a musician, and not every musician is a songwriter, so another suggestion could be some sort of poetry, written verse or any form of literature. I am not suggesting that every time you feel down you write a door wedge of a novel that puts The Order of the Phoenix to shame but again the simple act of just jotting down some of the things going on in your head can really help clear your mind. The positive thing about this is that you really have the freedom to go anywhere you like with something like this as literature really is an endless world; you could write a short and neat haiku that summarises some of your feelings, or you could write a longer, more freely structured poem in which you blurt out everything in your head. Another idea may be to write some short stories. A creative way of structuring and organising your thoughts may be to have the story relate to yourself in some way, whether the character shares similar circumstances or emotions, this can help you take a step back and evaluate your own situation in a way that can be hard with mental health difficulties. Another good option may be to keep a diary, this way you can express your feelings and thoughts that may otherwise be suppressed. Furthermore, you could review your diary when you are feeling particularly low to understand the journey you have already been on and the progress you have made.
So, if lyrics or literature aren’t your passion but you’re a dab hand with a Crayola, then why not get drawing? Art, like literature, seems to be an endless craft with endless possibilities. It might be that you wish to make some sort of 3D modern art that represents the way you feel, it may be that you feel a more traditional painting might better show your emotions, or you could create something much more abstract. I think art is a great one in a similar way to how music can be, in that it is all in the interpretation. With lyrics or literature sometimes the words can become so personal that this is not something you may wish to share, but with art you could come up with something truly unique that to you represents everything you are feeling and thinking, but to others may be no more than something interesting to look at. Another benefit of trying your hand at art is that sometimes when we are feeling so anxious and stressed it is not easy to explain or express how we feel in words, it can be hard to talk about to others and this can spread to writing, whereas with art it doesn’t have to be articulated in the same way. You could just pick up a notepad and doodle to your heart’s desire, taking some time to relax and see where the pen leads you.
So, if you are a creative type, even if you have little musical, artistic or literature knowledge then it can be a really beneficial thing to just channel all your energy into some creative outpours. Of course, I am not suggesting that every work has to be a masterpiece, but anyone reading who already spends time writing music, literature or making art may just find that their best and most authentic work comes from an occasion where they have let their emotions take over. As well as all the ways in which creativity can help us organise out thoughts or channel our feelings, it’s also just really a great distraction. Sometimes when we feel low it is easy to go into our own heads and get absorbed in everything that is going on up there, but instead taking some time out to do something creative can help you move your focus elsewhere, and it can also be a really rewarding feeling afterwards to admire what you have produced.
Buy print editions of Mindful Melody Issue 6 below!