Today’s society is filled with kids, teens, and adults trying to improve or maintain their mental health without knowing where to start. A common thing they are told is “tell someone how you’re feeling” or “find a way to express yourself,” but what does that really mean? In fact, why is improving/maintaining your mental health important in the first place? To answer this question, we spoke with a few VOX ATL members to discuss how they free their feels.
Why do you think it is important to free your feels?
Hunter B.: “I think freeing my feels is definitely an important way that I practice self care and maintain my mental health. Just giving myself the time and the space to unwind and do things like read or play piano allows me to be in a good headspace the rest of the day. I feel like freeing my feels also makes me a better person. By focusing my emotions – whether they be frustration and anger or passion and excitement – into a certain activity, I begin to feel almost lighter and am more ready to invest time in the people around me.”
Hananya A.: “I think freeing your feels is really important because freeing your feels is like cleaning up your room. When your room’s really dirty it’s hard to find things; it’s hard to fall asleep; it’s really difficult to do a lot of things. But when you clean your room, you can find everything, sometimes you find new things that you were looking for, you can get good sleep, [and] you can walk around without running into things. I feel that it’s like that in your brain when you free your feels.”
Zariyah A.: “First off, I want to say that freeing your feels is important because it helps you release emotions and… cope in a positive way; and when you cope in a positive way, it will help you a lot more in the long run [as] it is a way you can constructively deal with any issue… [Also], when you’re freeing your feels, you have a way to customize it for YOU… Freeing your feels is a great way to protect your mental health and to preserve your mental well-being and self-care and self-love and coping in positive, healthy ways are essential to our survival.”
What are some ways you free your feels/express yourself?
Hunter B.: “As you can tell above, I’m a very musical and art-focused person. I love to write music, compose on GarageBand, and of course play the piano. I also love to take time and read a good book or article, and I sometimes write myself. Just any art really allows me to free my feels, whether I’m consuming it or making it, but it’s usually centered on music or writing.”
Hananya A.: “I free my feels by engaging in music with others. Whether that’s by listening to music or singing. I always feel way better and inspired when a group of voices harmonizes into a layered one.”
Zariyah A.: “Some ways I express myself consist of doing a lot of journaling, poetry and painting. For me personally, poetry and art have been some of the best ways for me to express my mental health and any emotions I’m feeling. I feel like crafting also gives me a sense of comfort and I often do crafts and paintings that serve as positive reminders that I’ll hang on my walls or carry in my backpack… I also like to express myself with the music I listen to, sometimes it’s way easier to have someone else verbalize how I feel or just an instrument that can perfectly encapsulate how I feel.”
What advice would you give to others who are afraid to free their feels because of what people might think?
Hunter B.: “In the words of Nike, I would say Just Do It! As long as you stay respectful of other people, if something works for you and allows you to free your feels, just go for it! By having confidence in yourself, you may form confidence in others also.”
Hananya A.: “Sometimes you can be afraid of freeing your feels because you feel that it might be “wrong” but freeing your feels is in itself a step in the right direction. And you should be proud of yourself for doing it!!”
Zariyah A.: “Some advice I have to people who are afraid to express themselves is that doing smaller steps first will help you learn to express yourself in larger ways. I work in smaller steps like keeping a private journal…keeping that with yourself is a good way to learn how to hear and give validity to yourself. That’s helped me a lot with gaining my voice and coping with my emotions… Another thing is I believe everyone has been afraid of expressing something before and that’s okay! Take your time for when you feel ready.”
Free Your Feels is a mental health awareness campaign encouraging Georgia’s young people to explore their real feelings and share them fearlessly. Visit FreeYourFeels.org for more info.