Okay, so, mental health has become something that is enormously important to me throughout the past few years.
This is partially because I went to college and became more stressed than ever before, but mostly because I have loved ones battling mental illness. I think it’s incredibly important to talk about and I want people to have the freedom to discuss mental health.
Before I give my tips on activities that help, I want to make something clear: mental illness and mental health issues can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or socioeconomic status. There is nothing embarrassing about having mental health issues, and they are absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
If we’re honest, we’ve all battled mental health issues at some point, but the severity differs from person to person. These issues include anxiety, depression, OCD, body dismorphia, and others.
Anixety is an issue that many people, of all ages, face. It is the root of OCD, social anxiety, and other illnesses. It involves negative thought patterns that can include a fixation on scenarios or details, which an individual worries about.
There are many resources available, and I am NOT certified to give medical or psychological advice or diagnosis. I’ve just had experience witnessing activities that have helped loved ones with anxiety, and practiced some myself when i’ve felt anxious.
Now, i’ll share these 6 activities with you!
Playing music or singing
If you know how to play any type of instrument, play it when you feel anxious, and sing if you can, too. Focusing on a melody or song that you’re playing can be an immense help when you feel overwhelmed, and many people get joy from playing an instrument. It requires a focus that can leave your mind without the space to fixate on something you’re anxious about.
Drawing, painting, or sculpting
I have a loved one facing social anxiety and depression. Something that helps them is drawing. They’re quite talented and i’ve seen them progress in their skill throughout the past few years. Once again, it’s an activity that helps your mind focus, leaving less room for anxious thoughts. Your fingers doing a tangible activity helps with mindfulness and the awareness of what you’re creating.
Meditation, mindfulness practice, or prayer
Okay, so, I am not saying that prayer is the solution to your mental health issues. I don’t buy into that. When you’re starting to feel too overwhelmed, meditation and prayer can bring you back to the awareness that everything will be okay. There are some great apps out there (try Headspace or Aura) that can help lead you in mindfulness exercises.
If you are religious, find a prayer or verse to memorize, and meditate on that truth. Communicate with God for a source of comfort, relief, and perspective. I find that Jesus is the ultimate counselor and friend. There is much comfort and perspective found in the Bible and through prayer for me, and I encourage you to seek God in times of anxiety.
Cuddling and quality time with a loved one
Real life: when I feel overwhelmed with unreasonable anxiety, a cuddle and talk with my boyfriend calms me down every time. It’s such a source of comfort for me personally. Even a long hug from a loved one or friend can feel cathartic when your anxiety takes over, because you feel less alone and more loved. Talking out anxieties leads to the beginning of healthier thought patterns, perspective, and comfort from an external source.
Playing a sport or exercising
A sport or activity like golf, tennis, soccer, yoga, or Zumba can help you focus on the movements of your body, rather than on your specific worries. Basically, when your mind focuses on the motions and strategy of the sport, you’re able to get away from the anxiety that may relate to your family, work, school, or love life. An extra benefit: the endorphins after exercising can make you feel even happier!
I find that writing down my worries can help put them in perspective. I think that journaling, or using a thought-balance sheet (see here) can be a great way to logic through anxious thoughts. It helps you gain the perspective that even when your anxiety makes it feel like an awful thing could happen, the reality is not as bad as you think.
Those are 6 activities that have proven helpful, in my experience and opinion, to take your mind’s focus away from anxious thoughts and toward healthier thoughts. There are tons of resources available on the internet for helping with anxiety.
I also encourage you to seek help and tell a loved one when you’re experiencing mental health struggles. You deserve to have a confidant, a comfort, and help when you are feeling overwhelmed. Regardless of whether this comes in the form of a friend, mom, dad, counselor, or significant other, you deserve help and support.