4 Alternative Ways To Tap Into Spiritual And Mental Wellness

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Apr. 25 2022, Published 8:05 a.m. ET

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The world rushes in around us with more things to do, more obligations, more anxiety-forming news and social media constantly feeding stress in our lives. Finding healthy, sound ways to tap into wellness is a must. Especially critical is having ways to tap in during those stressful moments when everything seems too much.

We’ll explore four methods and activities you can use any time for connecting, relaxing and self-soothing in times of major or minor crisis.

Mood Playlist

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This past autumn, I took a graduate class with Beth Taulman Miller, the author of What Loss Can Teach Us, a profound exploration of spiritual and mental wellness centered around grief and loss. One activity we did for this class was create a grieving playlist.

I took the initiative to then create other playlists to assist with stress (coupled with a detox bath and prayer time each week since), anxiety, anger and similar emotions that evoke deep, unsettling emotions.

Start with a single song in each category that helps encapsulate the emotion you’re trying to capture (such as joy) and place that as the beginning of your playlist. This allows you to listen to this song first and most easily for crisis moments. From there, build the playlist through emotions that you need to explore to get to the resolute emotion.

For example, a playlist for grief might start with a song that always evokes sorrow for you. Then the next several songs play with grief and sorrow, moving into a calmer emotion like peacefulness and then, finally, into joy in the middle of sorrow.

It’s important not to deny the emotions you feel, but rather to allows yourself to move through them before moving into some kind of resolution.

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Opposite-To-Emotion Thinking

While on the surface, this might sound like a denial-of-reality sort of technique (a fake-it-till-you-make-it thing), there’s actual medical research showing the results of using this approach in crisis moments. It can help to bring about mental wellness in the moment faster than not.

It is what it sounds like – acting in opposition to the emotions you’re feeling. Let’s say you’re feeling unsettled and stressed out. Opposite-to-emotion thinking tells you to sit down and meditate in a quiet, calm space. (Madison Hewitt, LCSW for The OCD and Anxiety Center gives more definitive examples of how this may play out.)

Regulation of emotions in a moment of heightened emotions is quite challenging – but in the long run, experts say this is a helpful technique for both temporary and long-term relief for many of the mental and spiritual wellness issues we deal with on the regular.

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Mental Reframing

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Mental reframing, or cognitive reframing, is a bit of a buzzword in therapy, so it’s likely you’ve heard of it if you’ve ever been to a therapist. However, according to Psychology Today writers Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW, this technique has been a lifesaver for me in many instances. What this technique involves is in the moment of crisis looking at the cause of the crisis from a different angle. One example of this might be in traffic you nearly have an accident and are overwhelmed with anxiety. Reframing this moment to help an immediate calm down would be to say, “But I didn’t!” I’ve personally used this reframing on many occasions in this kind of setting and immediately found my anxiety levels go down.

This technique isn’t just for in-the-moment crises, though. This works for long-term situations or short-term problems that are causing anxiety, stress, and other emotional or spiritual imbalance in your life. Take those on-going challenges and reframe the problem into a solution or something positive (ie. “Hey, I have to work crazy hours while all my friends are out partying, but this way I’ll save money and be able to take that trip because I’m not out spending cash on drinks.”)

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Our sense of smell is a powerful component of emotional wellness, even if it’s not necessarily our go-to thought for this. Think about being stuck somewhere that smells horrible – or, conversely, stepping into a candle store or hotel that smells amazing.

The old adage of “stop and smell the roses” applies, in essence, as a quick fix for immediate needs in emotional wellness, as well as long-term positive results. I personally discovered the significant value of aromatherapy when I began making my own skin-care products and started studying the value of essential oils.

Essential oils and similar things won’t stop anxiety or magically reduce your pain from 10 to 0, but studies have shown that aromatherapy can help with a variety of conditions from physical to emotional and mental. Johns Hopkins Medicine shares some in-depth thoughts on this, but the skinny is this: Certain aromas can impact the amygdala, which is the emotional center of the brain.

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An important thing with aromatherapy is considering the different uses for essential oils. Second, make sure that the scents are ones you’re not allergic to. Third, make sure these scents are something you associate with something pleasant or a happy memory. For me, hyacinth essential oil, for example, triggers happy emotions. It’s my favorite scent in the world, so even if I’m exceptionally stressed or upset, one whiff of this pretty flower sends me into a state of sheer bliss. This allows me to then calm enough that I can face whatever emotional issue I’m slammed with.

I like to recommend the use of a wrist diffuser for easy access, especially if you struggle with anxiety or stress on the regular, or have pets that prevent you from using a room diffuser.

Find Your Healing In Simple Things

While none of these methods will magically remove stress or totally treat mental illness, these practices may be used in the moment and long term to help your mind and spirit calm both in that second of emotional crisis and down the road. Try out the different methods and see which ones are most effective for you, then, for best results, combine those that work and make the resources you need for them available any time.

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By: Rita Pike

Rita Juanita Pike is the granddaughter of Jerrie Mock, the first woman to pilot an airplane around the world. Rita has taken inspiration from her grandmother’s life and flight and pursued many of her own dreams in theater, podcasting, and novel writing. She now writes about travel, pets, faith, and the arts. She’s happily married to Matt, and faithfully serves a very fluffy kitten queen, Lady Stardust.

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