Today is World Mental Health Day a day where we all raise awareness about the struggles people face and attempt in our own ways to reduce the stigma around Mental Health. I always find the stories that come out of days like this to be inspiring and often showing the best side of us.
1 in 4 people in the UK experience poor mental health in their life so we need to be open to talking about it.
I don’t think I have ever expressly covered it in any of my posts but I have had experiences struggling with anxiety and poor mental health. Anxiety is in fact something I still at times have to work to overcome and I think will probably be something I have to deal with for a long time. However, through counseling I am at a point where I have the tools to take on and tame my anxiety when it strikes.
I want to cover the importance of having outlets, having tools under your belt so to speak that can help you to unwind, express your emotions and help to preoccupy your mind. When I received counseling for anxiety they gave me a list of hobbies and things to do to distract myself. I found that most of them I had already been doing, not realising that it was probably for this purpose.
I do want to be clear that I am not saying that any of these things will fix the problem. If you need support the best thing is to see a doctor to get the propper help you need. Picking up a paint brush or going for a jog won’t on its own help but it can be beneficial for your wellbeing. I myself have been told to just stop worrying, or go for a run and forget about it and that’s really not helpful.
Saying all that here are some of the outlets I use to help improve my wellbeing and manage my anxiety:
Art, I’m not exactly a world-class artist but I have always enjoyed painting and drawing. I find that it helps me to relax and unwind and can be quite meditative when it needs to be or expressive if I want it to be. Art is a powerful form of self-expression and just letting yourself go and experimenting can be really fun and beneficial. It doesn’t have to compete with the Mona Lisa!
Gaming, gaming is an interesting one. Videogames can be a great outlet for stress. They can be fun and distracting and a way to escape, just like reading a good book and at times I have found throwing myself into games to be really helpful. Of course it can be detrimental. Escapism is a strong pull at difficult times and I have known people almost forget the world around them and their own health and play games to distract themselves so it is something I encourage you to be aware of if you find yourself gaming as a form of escapism.
Writing/Blogging, this is a fun one I think. Like art it is something I found myself doing probably subconsciously to preoccupy my mind and avoid worrying. At one of the harder points with regards to mental health during 6th Form (age 17/18) I ended up writing a 40,000 page novel in my study lessons. It was something fun and creative and offered a task for me to focus on. Similarly blogging can be an amazing outlet just like art blogging can be a way to express yourself and your views and sometimes just feeling free to express yourself can help.
By no means are having these outlets alone a way to “cure” or manage mental health problems but they can help. You don’t need a labeled illness to be struggling with your Wellbeing/Mental Health, there are points where you may just feel not quite at 100% just like if you feel you are coming down with a cold. Sometimes having ways to focus your mind and express yourself can help. Just like those adult colouring books. They seem kinda silly but I know people who have really benefited from them!
So on World Mental Health Day I think its important that we take some time for ourselves. Read a book, play a game, go for a walk just take some time to relax your mind and look after your Wellbeing! If you are struggling one of the best things to do is talk to someone, a friend or family member or doctor and if you think someone you know is struggling then don’t be afraid to ask them if they are ok.