Here’s What Happens at an Emotional Self-Care Workshop (and Why I Recommend Going)

Here’s What Happens at an Emotional Self-Care Workshop (and Why I Recommend Going)

Rooted is an emotional self-care center in Chicago that tells people to think of it as a “‘gym’ for your emotions and the creative arts and experiences as the ‘weights.’”

When I signed up for the emotional self-care workshop – or rather, Self Care in the City Playshop, as it’s officially called ­– I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. They said we would creatively express ourselves and explore emotions. I love creating things and I love feeling things, so I didn’t hesitate to sign up. But walking in, I realized that even though I’m a pretty emotionally evolved and in-touch person, I still wasn’t exactly sure what it would mean to exercise my emotions.

I run and I lift weights. I meditate and I practice yoga. I read and I engage in interesting conversations. These are all ways that I take care of myself, that I nurture my physical, spiritual, and mental wellbeing. Whenever I hear people talk about self-care and the importance of taking time for yourself, I usually smile proudly, thinking I’ve got myself covered. But what about emotions? I struggle to think of concrete ways that I exercise my emotions on a daily basis, and I would venture to guess most other people share this struggle.

When I arrived for the playshop, I was ushered into a studio space with chalkboard paint on the walls. People had written their feelings and affirmations on the walls: “I feel frustrated.” “I am worthy of love.” “I can make mistakes.” I was struck by the openness of the people who had been in that room before me; right away I felt like I was entering a safe and free space where it’s okay for people to be totally honest.

During the playshop, we sat in a circle and we talked about our feelings and how we feel them. But it wasn’t a therapy session; it was something a little purer than that. We were specifically told to stay away from intellectualizing, analysis, or advice-giving. Instead, we were able to acknowledge what and how we feel, something that we rarely do as part of a normal routine.

The studio was also filled with reams of paper and oil pastels and notebooks and pens. We were guided to draw and write, but without thinking at all about the results. We created without intention, but merely to let feelings flow out without judgment. As someone who’s devoted her life to putting words on a page and deriving important meaning from them, it was challenging to free write without the expectation that at least something fruitful would come from it. Not only were we told to write with no intention, we were also encouraged to destroy our pieces. The experience was the epitome of “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” And it made me feel incredibly present in the moment

All the areas of self-care are definitely connected. But emotions get left in the dust, often because there aren’t very many active ways to deal with them the way we have fitness classes for our bodies or book clubs for our minds. Our emotions deserve just as much attention and care.

I left the playshop feeling cleansed, open, self-aware, and cared for in a way that I was ready to take on the world. So I suggest taking some time to acknowledge your feelings and let yourself feel them. Try writing or drawing or moving your body, and see what comes out without any expectation of judgment. Discover what emotional wholeness means for you.

For more information on Rooted, check out their website.


Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.