Engage in creativity
Creativity and mental health and psychological well-being are liked.1 The most often cited definition refers to creativity as cognitive processes that result in work that is novel (e.g., original, unusual) and appropriate (e.g., useful, valuable, meeting task demands).2 Surprisingly, creativity has been traditionally linked to mental illnesses.3/4
Lives of geniuses such as Picasso, Hemmingway, or Mozart were commonly wrought with some forms of mental health complications, mood disorders and substance abuse.5
Whereas it is true that many famous artists had likely suffered from mental health illnesses,6 for all of us a daily act of creativity may increase well-being, personal satisfaction, and sense of achievement.7
- Many mental health experts build on the assumption that expressing oneself through arts may release mind contents and pent up emotions that could otherwise lead to obtrusive thoughts or distress.10
- A regular daily exercise in creative thinking can equip individuals with empowering problem-solving skills to deal with complex and ill-defined situations that could hinder them from attaining a fulfilling life and longevity.11/12/13
- Path to well-being is commonly paved with barriers that call for a fresh new perspective and from time to time require individuals to overcome their uncertainties and applying their own unique and appropriate solutions in precarious situations.14/15
Tips and recommendations
Let go of your fantasy and express it in a piece of visual arts,16 written story or poem,17 improv acting,18 or a piece of music.19 Don’t judge the product, remember that the goal is self-expression and self-appreciation of your uniqueness.20
Spend time in nature
Spending some time in a natural environment (or viewing it from afar) is beneficial for your well-being both in terms of physical and mental health.
- Advising outdoor play in nature to children is a good way for addressing chronic conditions such as obesity and leads to better mental health; and what more, it is cost-effective and sustainable.1
- Furthermore, making time for nature reduces impulsivity2 and anxiety symptoms, relieves of stress symptoms,3improves memory, attention and may have a beneficial effects on your general physical health,as spending time in the nature often involves mild physical activity such as walking.4
Important final note: above-mentioned beneficial effects are not limited to pristine wilderness, but may also include a park in your city!5
Tips and recommendations
Try to spend at least some time in the natural environment on a daily basis. You do not need to travel to the jungle every day. The walk through local nature or urban parks on your way to school or work may be enough. Also gazing from a local viewpoint to nature is worth considering. Nature offers us unlimited settings to observe and enjoy, so explore the nature around you!
Spend time with a pet or with an animal
Animals are a common element of human life and their involvement in mental health care is therefore not surprising. Inclusion of an animal in the Animal Assisted Therapy aims to improve the physical, emotional, cognitive and/or social functioning of the patient.1
Moreover, animals are often involved in animal-assisted activities in a form of recreational and visitation programs developed to help people with special needs. These programs involve various animals (mostly dogs, cats or horses) usually trained to be obedient, calm, and comforting.2 However, such interventions might benefit also in case of untrained animals of various animal species (even rodents, parrots, llamas, turtles etc.).
The animal-assisted psychotherapeutic interventions show benefits in a range of behavioural and psychological symptoms,3 such as increased sense of comfort and safety, increased motivation, enhanced self-esteem, increased prosocial behaviour, and decreased behavioural problems.
AAT techniques have been applied in adults with depression, dementia, multiple sclerosis, posttraumatic stress disorder, stroke, spinal cord injury, schizophrenia4 and children with various disabilities. Moreover, animal assisted interventions found an important place in palliative care in paediatric patients5 and in elderly patients with dementia.6/7 Their interaction with animals seems to have positive effects in a form of pain relief, reduced depression, anxiety and aggressiveness and increase in social interactions.
Moreover, animals are often involved in physiotherapy and occupational therapy, represented in particular by a so-called hippotherapy, in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to improve neurological functions and sensory processing in a variety of neurological disorders, such as cerebral palsy.8 However, the potential benefit of animal contact could be utilised also in our everyday lives.
Tips and recommendations
- If you are the owner of a dog or other animal that will appreciate the fresh air, take the time for a walk that will benefit not only the animal but also your physical health.
- Regular personal contact with an animal can enhance our lives. Take the time and spend it with your pet, which will appreciate it showing you its devotion.
- If you do not own an animal, ask for a visit from your family or friends with animals, or visit a farm or an animal shelter.
- Do not be ashamed to talk to your pet or animals, even though animals do not answer, they are very sensitive to your voice and its tone.
- Spend as much time as possible in nature; you can benefit from the fresh air, surrounding plants and enjoy local wildlife.