How do you deal with your mental health? Do you feel you have a pretty good handle on it? Or do you find that most of the time it is controlling you? Whatever aspect of mental health you are struggling with… anxiety, depression, OCD, negative self thoughts, PTSD, etc., understand that these things don't have the right to take over and control your life. There are certainly many ways you can diminish these powerful, negative feelings so that life can be enjoyable. One specific method I would like to suggest, is to engage in a creative activity.
I would like to briefly touch upon the nature of mental health issues, and try to paint a picture for you of how they could potentially be viewed in a figurative way. For example, one way we can think of our mental struggles is to see them as overactive thought processes, excessive built up energy in the mind, or a persistent vigor that causes uncomfortable feelings, negative attitudes, and aversive self-beliefs. One approach to dealing with this, is to channel this energy into a creative project; use some form of creativity that will allow you to focus your energy on some aspect of self expression, unrelated to your current undesirable thoughts and feelings.
Drawing, painting, writing, and dancing are just a few of the many ways we can focus our minds on something other than feelings of fear, worry, uselessness, or anguish. This act of creativity does not have to be anything grand or planned; you do not need to have a certain thing you want to draw, or a topic you want to write an entire novel about. Any simple act will do. Just grab a notebook, some colored pencils, anything else that brings you comfort, and go someplace you enjoy. Just put something on the page. You may be having a really bad day, nothing is going the way you had hoped, you’re unable to control your thoughts, and you want nothing more than to just crawl into bed and shut yourself out from the rest of the world. Instead of allowing all that energy to remain in your mind, stimulating the rumination of all things negative, I encourage you to turn to some form of art. Let out that energy on a blank sheet of paper, on a canvas, or in a journal. Even if you just start writing words in lists of random categories….like “favorite foods”, “favorite songs”, etc. Or, you could even just start by writing the classic, “Once upon a time…”, and see where your story ends up.
One of the things I enjoy most about being creative is that no matter where you begin, you never know where you are going to end. You may start out by writing the names of various animals, and you may end up with a short sci-fi story about a newly discovered universe. If you choose to draw, you may just start by creating a bunch of lines on a blank sheet of paper; who's to say what abstract image you will have in an hour's time. One thing will lead to another to another as you allow your mind to wander away from your adversities and into the unknown. Some of the best outcomes in life are unexpected, unplanned, and spontaneous.
If you are reading this and are saying to yourself, “Well, I am not a creative person, so this won't help me,” get that thought out of your head. Creativity is innate in each of us and can be expressed in a variety of ways. When you find yourself allowing your mental health to get the best of you, take control. Take this mental energy and transform it into something creative. Manifest this energy into a drawing, a piece of writing, a song, a dance, a batch of cookies…anything you’d like. Do not let this energy weigh you down, but instead use it to build you up and let it take you to some place unknown. You will soon become invested in whatever activity you choose, and your mind will slowly be freed from your anxiety, depression, or any other negative emotions you are feeling at that moment. Let your creativity be your escape.