World Mental Health Day 2015 ft. 5 ways to look after your mind

5 ways to look after your mindHello!  Today is a very important day, in my opinion because today is World Mental Health Day.  Every year on this day, people all over the world join together to talk about mental health and to raise more awareness of ill health.  I wish we didn’t need this day, to be quite honest.  I wish there was no stigma around this topic, that people opened up and spoke about it and that there was enough awareness to get support whenever you need it.  However, sadly, there is still a lot of negativity and judgement when someone mentions the words ‘mental illness’.  So today I wanted to dedicate a quick post to to this day and how it relates to my life, in particular why I love crafting and planners so much.

Mental health is a topic that is very close to my heart.  It is one of those things that people often forget about.  You get taught in schools that you need to eat healthy food, like fruit and veg and to exercise to look after your body but what about your mind?  What about your mental health?  It’s great to look after your physical body but if you don’t look after your mental health then that would easily make you ill, making you sick physically too.  I learnt the hard way how it feels to let your mental health suffer and now I make a conscious effort not to let that happen again.  This just means that every day, I try to make some time for my mind.  How I make time for my mind is definitely different from how you might make time for yours – I know a lot of my family and friends would have very different lists.  But that’s okay.  It’s about what works for you and it’s your list.  So if you do anything today, please just spend a few minutes coming up with a list of five ways to help make time for your mind.

In my top five, crafting ranks very highly.  It doesn’t matter what type of craft it is, I just enjoy having a creative outlet.  This has varied throughout my life where sometimes I’ve been obsessed with writing, other times drawing, once it was crocheting whilst more recently it is papercrafting.  I love doing something creative, whether it’s creating a card from scratch or even as simple as colouring in an image.  And that is why I think adult colouring books have become so popular recently.  The craze for them has become huge, so many people enjoy doing it – and I don’t blame them.  Being creative is a great way to relax your mind and colouring requires little thought.  So on that note, I have created this list of the top five creative ways I look after my mind with the hope that something may be applicable for you!

1 – Colouring Books

Art Therapy colouring bookAdult colouring books have become a big craze these days.  There are so many options from animals to spirals and everything in between.  You can pick ones that are really detailed or one that encourages you to draw some details in.  You can also get huge dot-to-dot books that take ages to do but are definitely so worth it.  Some are double sided whilst others are single sided so you can tear them out and frame them.  Whether you use pencils, pens or paint, it is definitely an avenue to explore if you are interested in just colouring or following some simple instructions (like the dot-to-dot books) without having to concentrate.  Personally, I really enjoy just mindlessly colouring in something when I’m upset or after a long day when I’m just too tired to do anything productive.  Feet up, comfy blanket, TV and a colouring book.  Sorted.

2 – Planning

IMG_20151004_203519Planners gotta plan so this one has to be in the list.  If you’re a planner or if you like lists then I definitely recommend investing in a nice one that works for you.  I love being able to have a planner that I can occasional decorate when I want to relax or have pre-decorated planner inserts that make me smile.  Even a little bit of washi tape here and there can really brighten it up and having a nice place to write your to dos can feel quite smoothing.  Obviously you need to do what works for you and how much time you have but something as simple as using colourful pens in your planner might brighten it up!  If you haven’t really tried having a planner before, perhaps grab a cheap one (there’s always some cute diaries and planners available in the pound shop) that you can play around with and see if it works for you!  Planning something allows me to try and manage all of my tasks, helping to make things feel more controllable.  Just remember to be realistic in your planning and think about how much time each task would take.  Last week, I sat down and decorated my planner and I absolutely love looking at it now.  It took a while so it may not be something I do every week but I will definitely try as it was enjoyable, as well as relaxing.

3 – Making cards & notecards

Handmade Cards & Gift SetHandmade cards and notecards always make me smile.  It also gives me things that I can pass on to other people, making them smile.  This ties into the colouring books experience in some ways as I do colour in a lot of stamps on my cards.  However, it definitely requires more thought.  What I love about this is that there are so many different ways to produce cards / notecards.  You pick the size, the paper, the techniques – everything.  You choose if you want to use washi tape or colouring pens.  You choose if you want to use colourful patterned paper or make it black & white.  You choose if you want to stamp on it or use stickers all over it.  The choice is endless.  If I want to relax but not have to think too much, I really enjoy making little notecards.  For this, I stamp some images onto little squares, colour them in and then mount them onto a bigger piece of card.  I can write the message on the back of the card then, when I want to send it to someone.

4 – Photo a Day

Sept Obsessions - Photo-A-DayLast week I spoke about the photo a day project I do, challenging myself to take a photo every single day as one of my favourites for the month.  I think it is also something that has been a great way to make some time for my mind.  It forces me to reflect on the day, thinking about what I could use as a photo to sum it up.  This allows me to appreciate some of the smaller things that have happened that day, that I might not necessarily have thought about otherwise.  Now these photos don’t necessarily have to be happy memories.  I am a week off from doing this for 400 days now and I can guarantee that not all of those days have been amazing.  Some of them were really bad days and looking back through my photos, I could pick out those by the picture.  But that’s okay.  Because life isn’t always full of happy moments.  From these sad memories, I can take some relief in that those memories or wounds have faded, that life is better now or that I went through those sad things and survived.  Whatever you take from it, it lets you reflect on it and then move on from it.

5 – Write

Blog Post ScreenshotPhotographs are brilliant and creating cards or decorating planners are all great fun.  However, sometimes words can do what the others fail to do.  And yes, I know a picture is worth a thousand words but sometimes, words are more than enough.  I personally enjoy blogging so I do that but occasionally, I will journal.  I also write letters to people, which was another favourite that came out in last week’s post.  Writing something down can help you remember it, it can be a great way to savour a memory or reflect on something.  If you’re a writer, why not try writing something like a journal entry or that story you have always wanted to write.  A lot of people say they have ‘publish a book’ on their bucket list but what are you actually doing to get your book published?  Are you actually writing it?  Most of them will say no, most of them will say “one day” but why not now?  I wanted to start a blog for years but I kept saying “tomorrow” – which lasted for years – and then I got tired of the excuses and decided to start at that very minute.  And now I love it, it’s a part of my daily life.  So write, write whatever you want to write about.  Talk about your feelings or talk about stationery, whatever you write about do it because you love it.  Whether you show anyone else or keep it hidden, write for the sake of writing.

Today is perhaps a really good day to take a moment and reflect on what is good for your own mental health as well as a great day to reach out to your friends and family.  If any of them might be going through a rough time, why not give them a call to ask how they are feeling?  Why not just randomly write someone a letter or send them a handmade card or gift?  Just to let them know that you are thinking about them and you’re here for them.  I approached this list from a creative angle as I think being creative in some way is a great way to look after your mental health and works for everyone but if there’s something else that works for you then do that.  It can be anything from exercising to cleaning your room to pampering yourself.  Whatever you do, try to look out for your mental health.  Doing all of this stuff doesn’t make you immune to ill health but it may help prevent it at times or reduce the impact it has on you.  For me, being creative helped me to find a way out of depression – perhaps it will work for you too so I thought I would just share what I like doing, in case it gives you any ideas!

I chose to focus my post on being creative because that is something that has helped me a lot but this year’s theme is actually about dignity.  To find out more about World Mental Health Day and their themes, visit the Mental Health Foundation’s website.  If there is something else that works for you, please do that – these are just some ways that I like looking after my mind.

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