Art helps me express things I find difficult to put into writing. It helps give a voice to the emotions I can't verbalize.
Do you know when you’re driving down a familiar road and you zone out but end up at your destination without realizing it? Most art sessions are like that for me - I am able to completely zone out and let my mind rest - the action of painting becomes second nature. That's not to say that I don't have a plan compositionally or a color scheme in mind, but I like to let the paint go where it wants.
Lately, I have been trying to put myself first - which hasn't always been easy. I've been able to make some larger changes to prioritize my mental health which looked like: quitting a job that was causing more stress than it was worth, quitting a toxic job shortly after, and making more time for creating (even if it's not for a client and just for myself).
BUT remembering to prioritize my mental health in smaller ways doesn't always occur to me. So I'm writing this mostly as a reminder to myself.
Prioritizing my mental health looks different during different "seasons."
I notice my mental health starts to suffer when I try to avoid big emotions, when I forget to slow down, when I go too many days without journaling and self-reflection, or when my work life balance dips. The key is to try and catch my stress before it turns to burnout. If I'm not paying attention, burnout can quickly turn into panic attacks, days of low moods, irritability with people I love, lack of creative drive, and forgetting to do simple things.
Finding things to be grateful for in the midst of anxiety and depression can be really difficult. I struggled with this a lot. "Adopt an attitude of gratitude" or "interrupt anxiety with gratitude" were two quotes I stumbled upon over and over again while scowering the internet for a "cure."
Project be. was born out of my mental health journey. It serves as a simple reminder to bring yourself back to the present moment. To not take life so seriously. To find gratitude in the small things and to just be.
I read a quote once that said more or less "your life should be too complicated to describe yourself to family at a party" and it exploded my brain. Really, it did. I have always hated that when we are first introduced to someone new, we ask what they do for work - like that is their life's purpose. From here on out I am going to make it my mission to instead ask, "What's your favorite movie?" or "What books are you reading?"
I saw a quote once that said something along the lines of "Create a list of things that make you happy. Create a list of things you do every day. Compare the lists and adjust accordingly." Now I didn't come up with this idea - I am simply repurposing here and sharing with you my take on it.
Okay, so the general idea is you take some time to think about what makes you happy and what you wish you were doing more often - then write them down.
I try to incorporate as many of the items on this list into my daily routine as possible and sometimes I need to think outside of the box to make it happen, especially with the current state of things and spending more time at home.