When trapped within the confines of my own head as I scribble out a story like a madman with a journal, I tend to forget that I can lift my head and breathe if only for a moment. I’m going to safely assume, that if you also write (or draw, or paint, or read, or do anything with passion) then you too are guilty of this. While this practice can get the job done and allows one to become completely immersed into the wonders of their work, it’s not always conducive to one’s mental health. For example, I’m currently working on something that is attempting to tear apart my insides and shred my psyche into ribbons of nothingness.
So, why are we here?
I’m glad you asked!
I’m going to give you (and myself I guess) 6 tips on How To Take Care of Your Mental Health While Writing Tricky Material.
You can use these tips for ANYTHING you want, it doesn’t have to be writing.
1.) Take Breaks
This seems silly, because of course you’re supposed to take breaks. If you’re anything like me though, sometimes NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR WORK. Yes, this includes food. So, while engrossed in your work remember to take a break! Go outside, walk aimlessly around your house while you gather your thoughts, take a quick nap, eat a damn snack. You can come back to your project in a few minutes/hours. It won’t run away and start a new life in the hilltops just out of your reach. If you’re staring at what’s making your brain slowly snap for too long, you won’t be able to continue. At least, you won’t without slowly killing the passion behind it. So take a break. Take ten breaks. Recoup and then come back to it once you’ve rested and eaten.
2.) Maybe Work On More Than One Project
Okay, so this tip might not be for everyone. I find that working on multiple things helps lift/distribute the weight I’m placing on my own brain. I know this sounds counter-productive next to ‘take a break’, but sometimes ‘taking a break’ could mean just turning to another creative outlet. So, if you think you’re able to, work on more than one thing. For example, I’m currently: rough drafting, outlining, and editing. Each one is a different story. Giving myself more than one project helps me keep my sanity in place…somehow…I’m honestly not sure how this works.
3.) Play Stand Up Comedy or Something Funny in the Background
When I write, I generally play music in the background. Whatever project I’m working usually depicts what music I’m listening to. For example, I played a lot of The Used while writing Experiment X: Sacrifice and I’ve been listening to rap while working on the Immortal story. (I’m listening to Fall Out Boy as I write this.) However, music doesn’t always work when you’re creating something that rips your mental health apart. I would become so lost in my work and the mood of my characters, that it took me a LONG time to snap out of it and return to the ‘real world’. Which, generally does happen, but this was different, it was more and it was worse. So, I started playing stand up comedy in the background when I’m able to. Granted, I’ll put the comedy on mute and still listen to whatever helps me ‘get in the zone’, but it can be easily un-muted. That way, after I get through a tricky scene, or one I’m having trouble writing, I can poke my head from around my laptop, un-mute the comedy and have a good laugh. It’s good to do something like this, because being trapped in your head with demons running rampant is a terrible way to spend your day. So, put on something funny and laugh.
4.) Reward Yourself With Coffee/Tea/Something Else
So, you ignored my previous advice and didn’t take any breaks, poured every once of your sanity into your work, and listened only to the music that ripped your soul apart. Trust me, I get it, I do this more than I take my own advice as well. You need a reward! You need to do something, or have something, that says, ‘I did it!’. Make yourself a cup of tea, grab an iced coffee, eat an entire tub of ice cream. I don’t care, give yourself a treat, because dammit you deserve it!
5.) Pet a Dog
I have nothing to add to this.
I just really like dogs.
Here is my puppers, Kira, attempting to make me feel better.
6.) Self-Care Days!
Last one from me for now! I think you should do this whether or not you write, read, draw, paint, etc. I think you should do this if you are a human. Take one day of the week and make it your ‘Self Care Day’. Personally, I picked Sunday. Now, your ‘Self Care Day’ can be whatever you need it to be. Need to watch cartoons in nothing but your socks while upside down and eating cake? Go for it. Want to spend hours in a garden of flowers while watching the bees? Do it. I throw a clay face mask on, wash and condition my hair, exfoliate, and maybe watch cartoons. Whatever you need to do to make yourself feel like a human person again. Try and set time aside to do just that. It doesn’t have to be every week on that day, just make sure that SOME time is set aside. Its important and you’ll feel better.
So, follow these steps/advice to keep your mental health from being overtaken by dark projects. Or, don’t follow any of this. What do I know?
In the end, this is only a blog post.
Not a set of rules chiseled in ageless stone.
Just, uh…take care of yourself you ball of stress you.
(Most images from Pinterest. Expect Kira the puppy, she’s mine. And Damnyell and Richard with Cotton Candy Randy. That’s from GMM.)