Express Your Emotions for Better WellbeingDec 04, 2020
How well do you express your emotions? Do you find it easy to put your feelings into words or keep them bottled up? If your default is to hold them all in, you are likely not experiencing thriving emotional, physical, or spiritual wellbeing.
Since I was a young girl, I’ve had a hard time verbally expressing emotions. When conflict arises, controversy stirs, or feelings escalate, I withdraw. My audible voice escapes me. If it wasn’t for relational etiquette preventing me from doing so, I’d run far, far away.
It’s not that I don’t have anything to say. My husband will tell you that most days I have plenty!
But with intense emotions, words become a swirling tornado that taunt me and hide behind my pressed lips.
Sometime during my teen years when conflict was more frequent, I discovered writing. Written words organized the jumbled mess in my head.
My emotions found an outlet through writing.
When I was struggling after a relocation a decade ago, writing helped me process the mental hum and emotions that accompanied daily life. At my husband's nudge, I started a blog, and the more I wrote the more I healed, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Little by little, I organized the mental chaos. And I discovered something.
I wasn’t alone.
As my readership slowly grew, other women chimed in with “me too” or a private note thanking me for sharing words that resonated with them. Many of my most faithful readers and advocates today are women I’ve never met. Yet, expressing shared emotions through writing yielded kindred spirits.
Is it hard for you to express your emotions? Maybe writing will help you, too.
Here are three ways writing can help you express your emotions for better wellbeing:
(1) Edit - for relational wellbeing. Have you ever said something aloud you wish you could take back? I have, more than I'd like to admit. Especially when emotions are high. Anger toward my kids. Frustration with my spouse. When you write, you can choose to write strictly for you and pour out all the strength behind your emotions without ever sharing them with anyone. Or you can write to articulate your thoughts to someone else in preparation for a needed conversation. With writing, you control the do-overs before the damage is done for better relational wellbeing.
(2) Release - for physical wellbeing. When you keep your emotions bottled up, you're capping a pressure point that eventually needs an outlet. Our bodies are adept at finding a release valve if you don't provide one. Eventually, they leak. Did you know that back pain, IBS, and migraines are often connected to your stress level? In fact, it's reported that 60-80% of primary care visits are connected to stress-related symptoms. If you take time to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, you give your body a place to leak that might prevent that next visit to the doctor.
(3) Connect - for spiritual wellbeing. As you begin to put words on paper, you'll begin to hear God more clearly through those words. If you struggle with anxiety, depression, or other challenging emotions, writing out prayers or even "venting" provides a unique way to connect with God. The Psalms are a perfect example of this. Though you may not experience relief from your circumstances in that moment, the more regularly you pour out your heart, the more you will begin to see and hear him in your daily life. With writing I've found my voice and I've heard his.
If you struggle to express your emotions, you're not alone. Choose one of my writing suggestions, or come up with your own. Put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
The more I write, the more I've discovered my speaking voice, too. I withdraw less often and experience better relational health with the people who matter most. I have less back pain and my overall physical health is better. My spiritual wellbeing was bolstered from writing words I believe God gave me to share in my first full-length book, It Began in the Garden.
While it still takes energy for me to express myself verbally (my Communication strength sits at number 31 of the 34 CliftonStrengths!), I'm committed to faithfully using the written word to reflect God's truth and light so that we all live a healthier tomorrow.
You don't have to be a great writer to express your emotions more regularly. Just get them out of your head in whatever form they come. Allow the words to lead you to better wellbeing.
In the meantime, I'll continue to write for me. And you. And Him.
Additional Resources for Better Wellbeing:
(1) This week, I interviewed my podcast co-host, Annie Perdue-Olson, about how to use the Myers Briggs Type Indicator to improve communication between teams and within your family. Listen here.
(2) I talked to therapist Amanda Cornelius about "leaky emotions" and how to recognize when your emotions are getting the best of you in this episode of the Side by Side Podcast.