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5 Creative Ways to Channel Your Mental Health Struggles

5 Creative Coping Strategies for Mental Health

About 43.8 million U.S. adults suffer from some type of mental health problem . All too often, however, they struggle in silence, without knowing how to improve their symptoms. Here's how you can channel your creativity during periods of depression, anxiety and other mental health struggles.

  • Reframe your outlook. Often blamed for stifling creativity, negative emotions have actually been proven to spark it. According to research out of Ghent University, subjects had a greater creative output when they began the day in a less-than-ideal mental state . What's more, the data showed that these individuals often ended the day with more positive attitudes after channeling their negativity into creative endeavors. If you are caught up in a negative mental state, try to view it as an opportunity to tackle a project and get something done.

  • Write things down. For years, mental health professionals have known that journaling can help people process emotional and physiological difficulties. Recent studies have now shown that it can even improve outcomes for people battling terminal or life-threatening diseases. However you choose to do it, regular journaling can help you clarify your feelings and thoughts, while reducing stress. It can also help you solve problems more effectively and help you resolve disagreements with others.

  • Get crafty. Modern research is starting to shed light on something many people have known for some time: crafts can have a therapeutic impact on negative mental states . Recent studies have shown similarities between the effects of meditation and sculpting, painting and drawing. While they don't know for sure, experts think that these activities allow our brains to get into a state of flow, during which we silence portions of the brain involved in feeding stress and rumination. These breaks appear to have a sustaining impact that makes us feel better hours or even days after the activity. Whether it's cooking, painting, sewing, photography or gardening, consider engaging in some type of craft or hobby that will require complete focus.

  • Dance. A mountain of evidence suggests that regular exercise can significantly boost overall well-being , while helping to reduce the symptoms of mental illness. Other research has shown that people are less likely to internalize problems and experience psychosomatic symptoms when they dance. Even if you just do it to the radio at home, a good 15-minute dance will get your heart pumping and your mood on the mend. If you can find a local dance class, you can boost the positive effects even more, since studies have shown that people tend to enjoy better mental health when they get involved in social activities.

  • Help someone. When we are struggling with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, our thoughts are pointed inward. Charitable acts allow us to stop making everything about us, while also improving our self-esteem. Research indicates that selfless acts can stimulate the parts of the brain that provide feelings of reward . Studies also show that people experience higher self-esteem and improved overall well-being when they volunteer. You may not have enough money to make regular charitable donations; but, you can probably find a little time in your schedule to get involved in a worthy cause. Not only will you be promoting better mental health, you may also establish friendships that can give you a greater sense of belonging.

When to Seek Guidance

While the right daily activities can go a long way toward promoting a healthier outlook, some issues demand guidance. If you have been struggling with depression, anxiety or some other type of mental health issues, consider talking to a friend, family member or a qualified therapist. While it may be difficult at first, the vast majority of people experience significant improvement when they choose to open up about their personal challenges.

Our caring therapists can help you cope with life's greatest challenges. Contact us today!