Catharsis is one of those words you have probably heard but maybe aren’t entirely sure what it means. It’s essentially the act of relieving old negative emotions. I’ve talked about reaching catharsis in previous articles I’ve written for The Utah Chronicle. Talking with friends, engaging in physical activity and meditation are all great ways to reach it, but the method I use most often is art.

Art can mean either indulging in someone else’s creations or making your own. A lot of people already know about the former and practice it. It’s finding music, television, movies or whatever it might be that lifts you up when you are feeling down. It can be art that you relate to. I have two playlists on Spotify with songs that I relate to when I feel sad. If I have time and the music doesn’t help, I open up Netflix and indulge in the sad feelings Bojack Horseman invokes.

For some, the complete opposite works. Listening to music that is overly saturated with happiness and good vibes provide the type of environment people need to get out of a funk. Returning to an old sitcom that you love, or a comedy movie that always manages to make you laugh are also great options. I understand both, and both types of cathartic consumption work. For me, it depends on how I feel. Some days I want the sad stuff, and other days I put on my playlist with all of my inspirational songs and listen to a comedy special I haven’t seen yet. It’s whatever you feel will work best.

I’m sure most people already know about reaching catharsis through engaging with art, but I would like to emphasize the case for making your own art when you’re like this. There’s a special feeling you get when you hear a singer reveal the emotions you’ve been rattling in your brain, but it’s also very relieving to be that singer and write down what you’re thinking in your own words and lyrics. You don’t have to be good at art or have a concrete vision of what you want to do to allow this form of expression to benefit you mentally. All you need is some sort of feeling you need to get out and a way to do it.

In times of turmoil, I’ve found solace in getting my thoughts out in various forms of expression. Just this year I’ve done everything from songwriting to drawing and screenwriting. Out of those three, I’ve only really had experience in drawing. The other two are things I have had very limited exposure to. Recently my best friend has gotten me into screenwriting and it’s really been helping me. Over the course of two days, I’ve written 50 pages for a screenplay based on a past experience of mine. It’s something that I’m excited to work on, and I use it to set goals.

Life isn’t easy for anybody, which is why we always have to be creative in finding ways to deal with the negativity in our lives. If you’re intimidated and afraid to try, I encourage you to do so anyways. Don’t do it with the thought of having to share what you create with an audience. Make it for yourself. I don’t plan on having the screenplay I’m working on to be adapted, but it makes me happy to be working on it anyway. Find something that you can rely on to help make things easier, and don’t be afraid to branch out and try new things. Start writing poetry, start making videos, start taking photographs. Whatever works or continues to work, I implore you to get creative and satisfy yourself.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

@TheChrony

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