Writing to keep your head in check

Computer study exasperation colPhil: Last week saw World Mental Health day. As you’d expect, there is the usual trite advice about it being OK to not be OK (try telling your boss and see how far that gets you), or to ask for help when you aren’t feeling right.

All well and good, but ask who?

The NHS? They don’t have nearly enough money to provide these services. The Samaritans? They will chat, but there aren’t usually any answers. People you know almost certainly have enough on their plate to need your troubles.

Nope. In the real world, you are on your own. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something.

First up, read a book.

I’m rubbish at getting away from it all. Unlike my friend, I don’t really do holidays and when I do, I’ve still taken me with me. If I can get into a good story, however, I can properly escape for a while. Reading engages my brain so it can’t do any of that spinning that it does when left to its own devices. The book needs to be a real page-turner and if I’m honest, something light and enjoyable. I want to see light at the end of the tunnel. There’s also the satisfaction of seeing the bookmark work its way from front to back – visible progress which makes me happy.

The other option, which we’ve been working on ideas around, is writing things down.

We’ve both found that writing empties dark thoughts from your head. More than once recently, I’ve had things rattling around my brain and stopping me sleeping. Turn those thoughts into an e-mail, you don’t even have to send it, and I feel a lot better.

Blog posts, and even scribbling in notepads work just as well. The key is the process of forming your thoughts into words.

A longer form novel provides both the satisfaction of a project that makes progress and a world that you are in control of. Many mental problems stem from a feeling of a lack of just that control, well you are the author, you make the rules. You can even be autobiographical if you want and visit revenge on those who cause your woes. Probably better not to publish this, or at least change the names though!

We’ll be looking at this again in the future, but in the meantime, if life is getting to you, write it down. You’ll feel better for it.

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