- Jenny Runkel
If your household is anything like mine, you are having some pretty serious conversations and concerns over the state of affairs we are currently experiencing. Questions loom and uncertainty fills the air. If you have children still at home, they are likely feeling all of this tension and fear at a deeper level than you can imagine.
I don’t have any answers to the many questions that you or they might have, but I do have an idea as to what will help both of you – all of us deal with the unprecedented events we are experiencing.
You may be rolling your eyes at me and that’s perfectly ok. I taught high school for almost 20 years and that happened on the regular. But I’m right. Hear me out:
Giving form to the scary feelings and emotions roiling around in your head and body is not just a cute exercise to pass the time or a self-indulgent artsy fartsy thing to do. It’s actually a proven way to release yourself from their grip. Researchers at The University of Texas found that subjects who were not allowed to express anger or distaste after viewing particularly disturbing scenes actually experienced more of those emotions as the test went on.
If we just keep watching the news and filling our heads with terrifying and contradictory information on social media without allowing the emotions that those create an outlet, we are just making things worse on ourselves and our kids. A simple, free solution is waiting for you.
Grab a pen. Pull out a sheet of paper. Go.
Write anything and everything you are feeling. Leave the judgement behind. Keep going. Tell that paper what your fear looks like. What it smells like. Let your hand take you wherever it needs to go. Encourage your kids to do the same. Give them a journal just for this purpose and promise them that you will never, ever read it. Then, keep that promise.
Creatively expressing emotions rather than bottling them up or even talking about them is deeply healing. It can also be entertaining and rewarding. Ask Stephen King, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker. All of these authors gave form to their fears and created lasting legacies in the process.
Externalizing all of the doubt and insecurity we grapple with these days isn’t self-indulgent or childish. It’s human. Evolved. Cathartic. Give it a shot. Encourage your kids to do the same. And if you’re really brave, send it my way. I’d love to see a whole new generation of artists emerge from our broken world. Art and humanity need one another. Now more than ever.