BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, from September 29 to October 11, 2021, 32.5% of adults in Louisiana reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder.

As the nation reels from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a shocking number of mass shootings, and the rising cost of living, it’s no wonder that on a local level, many people are experiencing extremes in anxiety and depression.

Anyone suffering from symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder would do well to speak with a medical professional about what they’re going through.

In addition to such a consultation, there are some relatively simple activities that can be helpful in alleviating the symptoms associated with anxiety and depression.

Write about your feelings

The National Library of Medicine says self-expression through poetry is one avenue to consider.

The NLM hails poetry as a road to the creation of, “avenues for self-expression that cannot be felt through other means of communication. This in itself can be a healing and restorative process, a self-guided therapy that allows us to strengthen our mental health and connection to ourselves, and to those around us.”

But what if you don’t feel like you’re a very good writer?

The thing about writing poetry for the sake of one’s own self-expression is that there’s no right or wrong thing to write. All that matters is that the words come from your heart.

To begin, it’s important to start small and not overthink what you want to write. Just write whatever comes to mind and before you know it, you’ll find yourself pouring your heart out.

One man who suffered from depression described how he felt after he’d written a poem, saying, “When I was done writing, I felt a little better, and more importantly, I actually understood myself a little more, something I hadn’t felt in years!”

Many who try their hand at poetry express similar sentiments.

If you’re not up for following in the footsteps of Emily Dickinson or Maya Angelou, another option is to take up journaling.

Journaling is typically defined as the act of keeping a record of your personal thoughts, feelings, and insights. And it doesn’t necessarily need to involve writing because journal entries can even be drawn.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), journaling can help you understand your challenges and strengths, clarify your thoughts and feelings, solve problems, recognize successes, and manage information overload.

Local resources

In addition to working with a trusted healthcare professional in addressing anxiety and depression, writing can be a simple and low-cost way to improve mental health.

A list of mental health resources available in Louisiana can be found here.

Click here for information on poetry events in the capital area.