I’m posting twice in a week – there’s a phenomena.
We’re moving, actually in the middle of a move, right now. It’s been a really long, exhausting process during something like this pandemic and the restrictions everyone is going through. Weirdly enough, packing with five people always around doesn’t actually make it go any faster or more easily. Funny how that turned out!
No, in all seriousness, this moving process is going well. We have a corner by our garage that we’ve been putting out stuff for free and literally everyday, it empties! This brings my heart a lot of joy. At first, everyone in the house was bummed that we couldn’t have a moving sale, so I tentatively suggested this. Nobody was a huge fan at first. I think seeing people happily ‘discovering’ our free stuff corner made a huge difference because suddenly, everyone in the house has had tons to just get rid of throughout the the house. Which is good since the new house has only half the space.
Anyways, I had someone message me a super important question. How do we handle the pandemic when we have mental health issues? It’s been something I’ve been sorta meditating on for about a week and a half. I could list all the repeated ideas everyone is using – time to self, new hobbies, family movie/game time, etc. But I think I have a little bit different answer.
I say – carve out time for art of any kind, books, music,
painting, etc. This can be part of carving out time for yourself or
separately. Time where you no longer think about yourself or your
situation – or perhaps you use both for inspiration. For me
personally, I haven’t been writing as much, but I have been reading
tons. I could carry on about why but here’s a cool quote:
“Words are the closest thing humans will ever experience to actual magic. Words have the power to transport us to Hogwarts, Narnia, and Westeros. Words can not only break a heart, but more importantly heal it. Words allow us to cultivate and spread both new and old ideas. In short, words allow us an endless opportunity to practice magic in our every day lives. “
I think having a few moments everyday to free your mind with words and art is crucial. It’s a big part of what is really missing in the human experience now. How often do people really sit down to read or draw? What about just sitting or lying down to enjoy some great music while they rest? It’s twofold in my book, the resting and the art of any kind – it must be something you enjoy and that gives reprieve from the world around us.
I think this is especially critical to mental wellness right now. We aren’t able to travel to find and appreciate the things that energize and reset our minds. But being at home shouldn’t mean shutting ourselves off from pleasures. In fact, a lot of the world’s greatest artists and writers lived in solitude to concentrate full time on producing and appreciating with their gifts. They usually only took breaks for meals and walks. The world is a lot more complicated and also a lot more interruptive now.
There’s a lot of research into the necessity for art as pleasure and well-being for those with critical mental health issues. I won’t delve into all of it, but here’s a quote:
‘Studies have shown that participating in music and art can alleviate pain, help people manage stress, promote wellness, enhance memory, improve communications, aide physical rehabilitation, and give people a way to express their feelings. ‘
So, the next part of my answer is this – everyone thinks they don’t have time for music and art, but they actually do. It’s a time management thing. It’s about taking even five to fifteen minutes everyday for it. You also don’t need to be the greatest artist or reader on the planet, you just have to enjoy what you choose. If you must multi-task – listen to your favorite music while making dinner or cleaning. Read right away in the morning, in between tasks, or before bed every night. Find time to sketch or paint, even if your kids need to be coloring or painting right beside you. It’s possible and it’s necessary for you.
I’m sure a lot of this sounds cliché, but here’s what I found in a totally non-scientific, purely observational way. When I was in the hospital after my suicide attempt, a lot of us felt a lot less depression and were able to do better in our group/solo counseling sessions when we made art, listened to music, or spent time reading. I can attribute a large part of my own recovery to art therapy sessions – which may sound weird, but it allowed me to redevelop patience, enjoy creativity, and provide myself a mental break from stressors.
So I advise art and music more than anything. Sure, we can eat well, we can exercise, and we can take our meds. But the brain and heart need creativity and pleasure just as much as they need those other things. This isn’t about functioning, it’s about living.