Anxious? Depressed? Get That Right Brain Working!
By: Beth McHugh 2007
If you suffer from anxiety or depression you will know that the thoughts that you think have a big impact on the way that you feel. And as anxiety and depression are not only conditions in their own right, but also tag along as part of an array of symptoms of other conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, then it is important to have as many tricks in your recovery bag to help you overcome these debilitating feelings.
While medication has its place in alleviating the symptoms of anxiety and depression, there are many more practical ways in which you can take control of your own thoughts and therefore much of the mood fluctuations that you may experience.
Meditation is great for lowering overall stress levels and is always in the psychologist’s arsenal when dealing with more permanent means to overcoming anxiety and depression. While meditation is a fantastic aid to feeling happier, buoyant and positive, it is a skill that comes with practice and demands a certain level of commitment on the part of the client.
While you are waiting for the benefits of meditation to kick in, there are more immediate ways to lower stress levels that work faster and provide extra help for the sufferer of these conditions.
Most of us have heard of the different roles played by the left versus the right halves of our brains. Generally speaking, the left brain deals with cognitive, or thought processes, and higher thinking abilities. The right brain is activated whenever we have to use creative processes, such as drawing, playing a musical instrument, designing the layout of our dream home, or planning what plants will look best in your newly- dug back garden plot.
Anything that involves creative ability will stimulate the right hand side of our brains. What this means for the anxiety and depression sufferer is that we can use this information to actually lower our stress levels at any given time. If you are feeling anxious try drawing. If you can’t draw, try doodling. Anyone can doodle and if you persist with it, you will notice your anxiety levels begin to drop. This is because the incessant thoughts that are driving your anxiety are being blocked to some extent by your inability to fully engage the left, or thinking, side of the brain. Calligraphy is an excellent relaxing pastime that combines right brain functioning and lowered stress levels.
Similarly, playing a musical instrument will shift the focus of your brain’s functioning ability over to the right side and therefore take away part or all of the “energy” that your left brain is using to fill you with thoughts of doom and negativity.
Try it. You’ll be surprised what a spot of painting, card making, knitting, playing the keyboard, or drawing a better layout for your living room can do for your anxiety levels. And you’ll also produce something useful into the bargain!