Being quite a creative thinker, I have my ways of dealing with and looking after my mental health. I do all the usual stuff: occasional meditation, relaxing when I can, talking about things with friends and family etc. Today though, it was playing some golf
It wasn't that I was feeling low or bad, it was just to keep my mind going with the happiness and health - if you don't look after your happiness when it is good, usually just little things, that's when you lose it, by resting on your laurels. My mum told me not to rest on my laurels 25 years ago.
So I went to the driving range to hit some balls. Setting the ball on the tee, having two practise swings and readying myself to smack the shit out of the poor little ball, it's like the therapy where you are encouraged to hit things with a foam bat. But this wasn't to release anger, it was just because it's fun. It felt good, a feeling of accomplishment when the ball rips 200 yards down the range. This kind of thing however can take a bit of practise and one shouldn't expect it to work every time. The self care aspect I mean, not the golfing ability. They are quite similar though lol - I'm not a great golfer and I'm not the Dalai Lama when it comes to being calm and happy, but I have learned how to make them both work for me.
I know I will not perform perfectly but that's okay, I enjoy golf even when I'm playing like shite, and I enjoy looking after my mental health. I know what works for me now after many years trying all sorts of things to keep my mental health in the green. A few years ago I would overthink things, desperately seeking a form of meditation to make sure that my mind didn't start falling into old patterns of anxiety when it started to surface. Sometimes it would fail and I'd get a bit annoyed, wondering how I could spend so much effort on researching meditation techniques and using them and for it to fail.
It can be tough at times to find peace, though I expect for some people it comes very easily. I have had to work at it and I would guess it took at least a year for my own techniques to start working from the day I decided I wanted to learn how to move to a peaceful place at will whenever the anxiety reared it's ugly head.
But it's not like that. It's not about being able to switch away from negative feelings when you need to. There is no magic mental process that works like a pill to take away your problems. For me it was a case of gathering wisdom:
Let go. Practise letting go of something when it tries to persuade you that you are feeling like shit for no reason instead of trying to fight it away. I learned that from a psycho-dynamic counsellor.
Know that it's okay to not be okay. Nothing exacerbates a problem like feeling that other people will judge you negatively for it and that you therefore need to feel better about it immediately. That is just too much pressure. Again though, maybe some people are able to switch their feelings and emotions from negatively terrible to peaceful happiness at will, in an instant. I think my sister in law can do that sort of thing quite well, but of course to my knowledge she doesn't have any mental health problems.
Distraction techniques. It took me a few years to fully appreciate this one. Go to the gym - it releases healthy chemicals in the back of your mind . Hit some balls at the driving range. Watch TV - I found that 'The Simpsons' worked quite well for me because it made me laugh too. In present day I do these things when I am feeling well because I think on some level, in my unconscious perhaps, the distraction techniques (and other things) deal with anything before it has the time to develop into a problem that I am aware of.
So that's a bit of info on what keeps me happy. This stuff might not work if a person is very seriously unwell - I know this from personal experience. For that, realise that no matter what, you cannot pass negative feelings onto other people in all of the intensity that you might be feeling them yourself. And people don't care if you are passing on some of your depression, anxiety to them. Most people are nice and nice people are understanding if you are not feeling your best.
I know that this stuff would have helped me in the past, but all I can do is hope that it might help you or someone you know. I am not a professional on all this, but knowing the awfulness of some mental illnesses from personal experiences, I want to help others, so I have to say/try something!
I had a good session at the driving range, I met up with two friends, one old and one new. I haven't played for ages so it was especially nice when those balls soared onto the driving range with the same ferocity I could manage last time I was there. I told a little story as we were chatting away.
"When my Grandpa died in 2004, who got me into golf when I was little, he left me his golf clubs. One day, when I was at the driving range in about 2007, I was using my grandpa’s favoured three wood, which was a club with a head made from actual wood, from of a set of three handsome ‘Wilson’ woods which would have been in their forties or possibly older by now I think. Anyway, I got too enthusiastic and with a flippantly wild swing, I hit the ground before the ball on the tee, and the head of my Grandpa’s 30 year old club came off and flew 80 yards onto the range with all the range balls, leaving me with just the shaft in my hand. I did exactly the same thing with the five wood a couple months later."
I wish I still had those clubs.
Note - My mum has just told me to add that socialising while at the driving range is also very good for staying happy and well. She is of course right, as usual.