The Elements Collection Series explores mental health through the lens of the four classical elements:
Water, Earth, Air, and Fire
The elements apply to mental health in both abstract and literal ways. Let’s take a look at how water can be used to understand our minds.
Water is seen as an elemental force of healing. There are so many ways that water can bring us back to ourselves when life gets overwhelming. When you think about mental health you probably don’t immediately think about turning to water, but it can be a source of inspiration and a way to view mental health in a new light.
Imagine the sounds of the ocean, or a rushing river, or falling rain. These are the classic sounds of tranquility and calm. There’s something about the sound of water moving that feels soothing and, also, so very alive. Meditating near a stream or using the sounds of the ocean on a guided meditation can help you focus and feel more at peace. Those sounds can soften our other thoughts, and allow our brain to just relax.
When you’re feeling sick or having a really rough day, sometimes it can help to take a nice warm shower or bath. It can feel like the mess of the day and your stressors are physically washing off of you, and leave you feeling like a brand new you. Think of all the spiritual and religious rituals that view water as a symbol of cleansing and purifying. No matter what you believe in, it can work in the same way for you. This simple act of getting in the shower or soaking in a bath can leave you feeling cleansed and like-new.
Ebb and flow
Have you ever taken a walk on a beach and stopped to stare out at the crashing waves? The ebbing and flowing of the tide coming in and out, breaking here and there, is a lot like the way life happens and the way our emotions feel. Things come and go, some days are smooth and some are rough. When you’re feeling the weight of negative emotions, the tides will change and something will push you forward again. In the constant changing tides of our emotions, remember that the low moments are always followed by positive ones.
Have you ever soaked in a hot spring or sat in a steam room and just let yourself sweat? In that process of sweating, your body is getting rid of all those harmful toxins. It’s using the water in your body to detoxify itself. Imagine yourself, in those moments, sweating out any negative feelings that you’re having. You’re detoxifying yourself of the stress, anxiety, grief, frustration, or sadness that you feel, just by sweating.
We need water to exist. Drinking water is key to keep your body—and brain—functioning as it should. Even forgetting to have a little water throughout the day can completely change the way you’re feeling. Our energy, emotions, focus, and overall happiness are completely transformed if we aren’t drinking enough water. Staying hydrated can replenish you from the inside out.
Sometimes nothing feels better than a good cry. And crying isn’t bad! It’s a natural response to many emotions. There’s a difference between a healthy cry and not being able to stop crying because you’re depressed—we’re talking about the good kind here. It’s a strange thing that our bodies release water from our eyes when we’re upset and emotional—and it isn’t even something in our control. However strange it may be, sometimes crying is the only way to let go of negative feelings that we’ve kept bottled up for a while. A good cry is cathartic for our emotions.