Building A Solid Foundation For Good Mental Health; My Story
Maintaining a well-balanced mental stability has been quite a challenge for me. As a teenager I would experience the odd occasion of feeling low, emotions running out of control, but nothing had prepared me for what adult life had in store.
With the new challenges adulthood brings, the need to create financial stability takes the forefront. When you’re a creative person, finding a way to both be financially stable, and dedicate the time to developing your craft can be really difficult.
My solution to this was to try and compact all my working hours into two days; Fridays & Saturdays 12-15hr shifts. I picked up work as a bartender as this was one of the most flexible yet consistent income streams for an 18-year-old. The trouble with going blindly into that lifestyle comes as quite a shock to the body. My ‘Recreational Habits’ soon became a daily usage to cope with the stress, the out-of-sync sleep patterns, and eventually a crutch to my happiness.
At the age of 21, the accumulation of years unknowingly beating up my body had left me mentally ill. I was eating far less than an adult male is supposed to be; I became very skinny, weakened, anxiety began to flare up and I would experience occasional panic attacks.
It was at this point I knew a change needed to be made and so I made the decision to go cold turkey sober. As the months went by, I changed my diet to include more meals throughout the day, minimizing my sugar intake and I began to workout. I believe that taking care of the fundamentals was the most important move I made to set a new course for my mental health.
How I Use Creativity To Balance My Mind
I thought that it was important to first cover the foundation for promoting balance in your life through physical changes, now let’s dive into how I use creativity to maintain that mental balance. Whether it’s a passion, or a hobby, being creative is a brilliant tool to unravel the stresses that your mind holds onto. Some people call it therapy, and rightly so, as it’s actually used in real-world counseling sessions.
A good example would be the act of drawing, heck, even simply coloring. We all have memories of being a child, with not a care in the world. I believe honing those creative skills as an adult helps us connect with the happiness we felt in our childhoods.
As a theatre person would say, play is an important factor of life. If you haven’t found your creative outlet yet (music, painting, acting, etc) go and get yourself some coloring pencils and paper. Next time you’re feeling extra stressed out, or emotional like you want to have a full breakdown; stop to breathe, get out your pencils, and just draw. It’s not about creating masterpieces, it’s about transmuting that energy into something else. Let your mind go blank, you could even try drawing the emotions you’re feeling.
If you’re a creative like myself, who’s found their passion, then you’ve probably discovered this before. I find that if I don’t get creative at least once every few days, I’ll begin to feel stale in life, and my mood will decline. Kind of like I unconsciously know I’m not pursuing my purpose.
As a musician, being able to take my emotions I’m feeling and transform them into a melody, or a chord progression has been a brilliant tool for rebalancing myself. It gets better too because you have the chance of writing a really great song, which then uplifts your mood further.
Sometimes if I don’t feel like playing my guitar, piano, or writing lyrics, I’ll spend time either drawing, writing poems, or penning a paragraph expressing how I feel to then evaluate it on paper. This last one really helps with addressing lingering issues and I’d recommend it to everyone to at least try.
Balancing Consumption With Productivity
For the majority of the population, we go about consuming a lot more than we do producing. What’s worse is even with all that consumption, a lot of people don’t even feel a true appreciation for the things they’re consuming. Movies, TV Shows, Music, it’s all an art form with serious thought behind each decision. Pieces of art created through a collective of passion-driven human beings, using the mediums to express themselves.
I believe this is a major flaw in the way the majority go about their lives. It’s important to find your bliss, your passion, that thing that drives you. If you spend your whole life-consuming, then you risk letting the external dictate your mood, happiness and place in the world. The ones who achieve greatness, the ones who are remembered are people who contributed something to the world.
I personally believe we all have something to give, and it’s part of the gift that is life. The more we choose to ignore it, the unhappier we become. Choose to take action, to live as opposed to simply existing.
Oxygen, Exercise & Nature
This final point I wanted to express how important it is to get out of the boxes we all live in. Being confined in 4 walls for extended periods of time can really make you feel disconnected. A simple walk through nature can have your mood doing a full 180. Something I found interesting lately was celebrities using oxygen chambers to promote good mental health.
Justin Bieber showcased one in his Seasons series and it made me understand the value of getting enough oxygen to the brain. Staying home for days can lower the oxygen levels in your body, which may have you unconsciously feeling surges of anxiety and discomfort due to survival mechanics kicking in.
Head out to your local park, do some breathing exercises, and become aware of how you’re feeling before, during, and after. Getting in some actual exercise is crucial too; increasing your heart rate, maintaining strength in your body, promoting healthy blood circulation keep your physical body on top of things, which then allows your mental health to flourish.
Mental health is a big part of all of our lives and it’s very important that you speak out when you’re going through dark times. There are people around who care about you and want to see you thriving. I hope you find something useful in this article to help create a positive change in your life.