Guest blog written by Mike Reed from Single and Sober
During recovery, it can sometimes be difficult to take things one day at a time and stay in the present moment without becoming anxious or overwhelmed. Depression and fear of the future can creep up into everyday moments and cause you to lose sight of your end goals. When this happens, and your mind feels like it’s shutting down or running on overdrive, here are some calming ways you can channel those thoughts into a creative outlet and turn your day around.
When your thoughts are bottled up inside of you and you feel like it’s too much to handle, writing them down can provide a release. No matter whether you crumple and toss the paper afterward, or keep an ongoing journal of your experiences, journaling can help you organize and let go of your negative emotions more easily. There are recovery-focused journals you can keep just for this purpose, or, if writing out negative thoughts seems too overwhelming, write instead about things for which you’re grateful, or jot down something frivolous, like a funny story about your pet or your thoughts on the last movie you saw.
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Poetry or Creative Writing
If journaling seems too tedious or painful, writing more creatively may be more natural. Try your hand at a poem that addresses your fears and emotions more abstractly or metaphorically. Write about anything else that comes to mind. Don’t try too hard to make this perfect—just write whatever comes out. Additionally, writing a short story or piece of fiction can allow you to examine your situation from the point of view of a fictional character. Here you can twist and change any details that you like, or even create an entirely new world that’s nothing like your own. Writing can be a great escape from reality when you’re feeling down.
Painting with watercolors or acrylic paint can be a soothing way to take your mind off negative thoughts. It’s typically more relaxed than drawing and will force your mind to focus on the task at hand rather than your anxieties. Plus, the pop of color on a canvas can (literally) brighten your day. Not sure what to paint? Try filling the canvas with gradient or freeform colors and then using a marker to write your favorite quote or song lyric across the (dried) paint. Or, if you’re not one for painting, instead try filling the pages of an adult coloring book.
Playing a musical instrument is a great way to focus your mind. It’s easy to get caught up in playing the notes and chords just right, and that effort replaces most of your tension and stress. It requires so much attention that there’s no room for anything else in your brain. Even if you’ve never played a musical instrument, try sitting down with a piano, guitar, or anything else and hit random notes until you’ve composed a melody or copied a favorite song. You can also achieve the same effect through a musical app like Smule’s Magic Piano.
Cooking or Baking
Much like playing a musical instrument, cooking or baking is an easy way to focus your mind on something concrete and tangible. Try making something fancier than you’d normally eat for dinner, or turn it into a date night or a competition with a friend. Chopping vegetables or perfectly frosting a cake not only occupies your mind but also gives you something great to eat in the end. Bonus points for making something extra healthy like these chicken pesto zucchini noodles—nutrient-rich foods can strengthen your body during recovery.
Incorporating these creative outlets into your weekly routine can help keep your mind calm and focused on the present moment—not to mention the feeling of satisfaction you get from nailing your first song on the guitar, painting a flower that actually looks like a flower, or perfecting your Bolognese sauce. Here’s hoping that these small moments bring more gratitude and peace to your journey.