Expressing Yourself

Written by Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC

Last week, I wrote about being yourself, and this week the subject is expressing yourself. Self-expression is beneficial for your self-esteem, as well as one tool for reducing stress and increasing your sense of personal fulfillment. When one is living with a chronic illness, expressing yourself can be a key to finding wisdom, strength and satisfaction. Self-expression is a large umbrella under which most anyone can find a comfortable place. 

Self-Expression's Many Forms

Self-expression can come in many guises and forms, and your way of expressing your own individuality may differ greatly from someone else's, and that's perfectly fine. Your sense of self is uniquely your own, as is the way in which you communciate it to others, and the world at large. 

Self-expression may frequently come in the form of spoken conversation, but your way of expressing yourself in words may lean more in the direction of writing, performing, acting or singing. Think about Michael J. Fox expressing himself about having Parkinson's Disease, or Norman Cousins, who wrote about his debilitating illness and recovery. 

We all know people---both famous and not famous---who express themselves in images. The ability to express one's self through photography has never been so available to so many people, and I have no doubt that there are people with diabetes who chronicle their lives with diabetes through photography, perhaps via Instagram. What better way to communicate your experience if not through pictures? 

Visually, self-expression can also come in the form of drawing, painting, sculpture or any other manner of visual artistry. Working with clay or paint could be very therapeutic in terms of the management of a chronic illness, and if increased self-awareness was a by-product of that process, all the better! 

Meanwhile, social media platforms like Faceook offer a wonderful form of self-expression that also elicit immediate feedback from your friends and family. This can be a very satisfying form of self-expression that can be fun, but also provide you with a powerful source of social support and validation. 

Some of us express themselves through relationships---with animals, children, friends, family, nature---and those relationships are fed through each individual's self-expression. Even expressing yourself by smiling at strangers at the grocery store is a way to communicate and express feelings, and one could even say that body language its own powerful way in which we express ourselves. 

It's All Good

Whether you express yourself through writing, relationships, posting on Facebook, speaking, performing, drawing or using Instagra to chronicle your days, it is a practice and habit that can only do good things for your mental health and well-being. 

Express yourself fully and freely, engage in relationships that feed that expression, and your health will no doubt benefit from the practice.