Creative outlets can be extremely powerful to help cope with hardships. In 2015, I turned to writing, specifically poetry to help me through some of my more difficult times. Along that journey, I started writing not just when I was distressed, but all the time. Whether happy or sad, there was something extremely cathartic about putting my feelings on paper. And I’m not alone, it turns out.
It’s no secret to those of us who deal with anxiety that it’s not just being really, really nervous. Forty million adults deal with anxiety disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health , and only 42.2 percent of those people are in treatment. Recently, Psychology Today reported that the American Psychological Association released the 411 from its annual Stress in America study, and the results aren’t comforting: “In January 2017, for the first time in its 10 year history, the survey found a statistically significant increase in stress levels in America, compared to last year.” Troubling as this may be, if you’re reading this article, you’re in luck; there are things you can do to combat your anxiety, and reading poetry is one of them.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s “How to Deal with Stress and Anxiety” handout provides helpful, and more than a few of them point to the power of poetry. Whether you decide to “take a time out” or “slowly count to ten” or “take deep breaths,” poetry can be a piece of your self-care plan. After all, reading poems helps you press pause on life, focussing your attention on the moment (much like practicing yogic breathing). Ready to give it a shot? These seven poems might help.