Top tips: looking after your mental health with creativity

Roshane’s personal story: creativity helped me express my feelings

Looking back at my younger years during school, I had a lot of bottled up emotions, some of which I am still dealing with today.

Trapped in my own fears

I have never been great at really saying how I feel and for a while I became trapped in my own fears, feeling as though no-one would understand. Even just being unable to properly vocalise the issues I was going through made me extremely ‘closed-off’ to my family and friends. This caused my mental health to deteriorate as I went from being happy and having an ocean of friends to feeling so alone and unmotivated.

Losing control of who I was

Listening to that negative voice inside my head, telling me no-one cared or understood, was like a domino effect that spiralled into other areas of my life. For years I felt like I lost control of who I was. I had lost all my friends simply because they didn’t know how to help or deal with problems surrounding mental health. This is why I think there should be more conversations in schools regarding prevention and mental health awareness at a young age.  

Expressing feelings with creativity

From primary school through to my college years, I noticed that I gravitated towards the more creative subjects. It became evident to the teachers and I that I had been exceling in subjects like theatre, music, art and design technology. The thing I loved about these subjects is that they created a safe place to express the way I was feeling without having to use words.

As I began to fall in love with these creative mediums and really use them as a form of expression I soon realised that it had a significant effect on how I saw myself, how others saw me and how I dealt with issues that I have previously found difficult. I began to silence the negative voice. 

“The thing I loved about these subjects is that they created a safe place to express the way I was feeling without having to use words.”

Having found that expressing myself through means of creative outlets was easiest for me, I can say that it has helped me during the more frantic periods of my life. I began to draw and paint outside of school when I found it most difficult to speak about personal issues, to communicate and release some of that negative tension within my mind. This allowed me to have a clearer vision on how to deal with the struggle before getting overwhelmed – which in turn acted as a gateway to some of my current passions such as dancing, for which I am now a coach.

Since being proactive with creative activities, my life has never been the same. I became more relaxed mentally and even when further issues arise that would have previously caused me to shut down and isolate myself, I understand the power of engaging in the creative arts and can now use them to my advantage.

Listening to your body

One thing I wish I was aware of and had paid more attention to is my body. Our bodies are full of wisdom if we take time to listen to them they often give us early warning signals of how we’re doing – little tensions to tell us that unless we relax, bigger storms will come. It’s good to pay attention to your body and feelings whether these are good or bad.

My personal experience is that when I’m becoming overwhelmed and stressed, one of my early warning signs is that I become fatigued frequently despite having enough rest. Without acknowledging these signs, I can see how easy it is to fall into that dark place where I felt miniscule in comparison to my problems. However, since identifying these triggers and tackling them with creativity I feel very comfortable and in control of my emotions. I now know that taking part in creative activities such as dance and painting improves my mood dramatically – it provides a new focus and allows my mind to stabilise and put things into perspective.

“I see how art helps to understand myself” – (MHF supporter, Twitter)

I believe the greatest benefit to using art as a creative way of releasing stressfear and anxiety is that you can do it without having to use words. 

Learn more about arts and mental health

In this blog we look at the added value of the arts and how they can keep us happy and in good mental health.

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