Mental Health Awareness Month: Some Creative Ways to Relieve Stress
Dear San Fernando Valley,
Happy end of May fellow DSFV Readers! As we close out the month and move closer to Summer Break, we hope you are taking care of yourself during these hard times. Especially with it being the end of the month, finals, exams, and report cards can be daunting. However, we hope that with the help of this article, you may be able to find creative ways to relieve your stress. There are also mental health resources linked at the bottom of the article.
Activity 1: Painting
Painting is one creative way people are able to relieve stress and you don’t have to be good to do it! Art has been recognized as a way to allow people to express themselves. There is a common english adage that says “a picture is worth a thousand words.” By painting, a person is able to express themselves without having to directly use words. It is a method that allows people to tap into their subconscious and express whatever they are feeling in that moment onto a canvas. The next time you feel there is a lot on your mind that you can’t put into words, try painting.
Check out this article for more info: Comments on: Top 7 Psychological Benefits of Painting
Activity 2: Journaling
Journalling is a relaxing way to release stressful thoughts out of your head onto paper. It also gives you the ability to reflect on what you’ve written. There is no wrong way to journal! You can also express your creative side with journaling through drawings, doodles, or poems. You don’t need to be Shakespeare in order to journal, it is completely up to you what story you want to tell.
Activity 3: Listening to Music/Playing Music
Music and mental health can be used to work hand in hand with each other. Music has been shown to relax the mind as well as be pleasing to the ear. Music therapy is often used as a way to promote emotional health as well as a way to help patients and people cope with stress. According to Verywell Mind, a 2013 study took participants in and exposed them to a stressor. The first group was given relaxing music, the second group was given the sound of water, and the third group none. It was shown that the participants who listened to music were able to recover quicker. If you feel you have a lot to study for or are overall stressed out and need a break, try turning on a calming playlist or turn to lofi girl on youtube to help relieve it!
Check out this article for more info: The Surprising Psychological Benefits of Music
Activity 4: Watching Short Films
There’s a variety of short films that can be watched for free on YouTube (probably with some advertisements of course). There are also some on Disney+ under Pixar if you are lucky to have a subscription. These short films are heart-warming, while being entirely watchable with a short attention span. Some short films we recommend are BAO, Hair Love, In a Heartbeat, and Paperman which can all be watched on YouTube. These stories may be a good way to spend your break in between studying or work!
Activity 5: Coloring
Coloring is a simple and well-known way to relieve stress. Here’s a website called Just Color: Adult Coloring Pages with some free printable coloring pages! It’s nice to feel productive while creating something beautiful, and ultimately seeing the final result.
Activity 6: Knit, Crochet, or Sew
Knitting is also a popular stress-relieving activity, and crochet is a similar activity. You can learn how to knit or crochet with a variety of YouTube tutorials. It only takes some yarn and some scissors to learn how to hand knit or crochet. Sewing can also be a creative outlet through embroidery or the process of altering your outfits. Who knows? You may end up with a new blanket, hat, or even new piece to add to your wardrobe!
Activity 7: Take a Walk Outside and Take Pictures
Exercise has overall been shown as a method to increase your overall mental health and wellbeing. According to Mayo Clinic, not only does exercise pump up your endorphins, it can boost your mood as well and act as meditation in motion. Your form of exercise does not have to be too intense such as scouring youtube for the ultimate workout (shout out to Chloe Ting’s and her challenges as well as other fitness youtubers helping us get through quarantine!) but can be any form of movement to help boost up your endorphins. Taking a walk outside and simply practicing breathing exercises to focus on yourself can be calming as well as taking pictures of things you find interesting. Make sure to take time to take care of you throughout the day!
Here’s an article to learn more: Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress
Activity 8: Read
Reading can be a great activity to take your mind off stressors for a while. It allows you to travel to different places and different times, or can teach you new things about the world. Reading poetry can especially be cathartic as it’s very expressive and up to one’s own interpretation.
Activity 9: Spend Time with Friends
Although it can still be a bit hard to meet up with friends and family in person, any form of interaction with people you trust is a good way to help take care of your mental health. According to Mayo Clinic, good friendships can “Increase your sense of belonging and purpose, Boost your happiness and reduce your stress, Improve your self-confidence and self-worth, Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one, Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise.” By spending time with people you care about, you yourself may be able to help relieve some stress that is on your mind.
Here’s an article to learn more: The Mayo Clinic: Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your health
Activity 10: Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep is very important to not only maintaining our physical health, but our mental well-being as well. A good night’s sleep may help alleviate some stress and help you feel energized to tackle the next day. It may be difficult to find the time or headspace to sleep, so try calming activities such as some we’ve listed above.
We at the Dear SFV Team are not professionals, but we hope to provide some form of guidance to others with the information we have. This article is not meant to be used as a mental health resource, but we've linked some down below. We hope that during these stressful times, you remember to take care of yourself. To any students who are undergoing finals or any stressful school work, we are rooting for you and we wish you all success! We are here for you too and cheering you on! Happy end of May everyone and may you find time to take a step back and treat yourself because you deserve it! :)
DSFV Blog Team
*If you are struggling with mental health, please consider contacting or consulting with the following:*
CDC Mental Health Tools and Resources: People Seeking Treatment - Mental Health
Social Work License Map: 60 Digital Resources for Mental Health from the Social Work License Map
For people in the LA County area: Get Help Now! - Department of Mental Health
Safe Helpline: Safe Helpline for SA: 877-995-5247
California Hope: CalHOPE: (833) 317-HOPE (4673)
Better Help: Help us match the right counselor for you
Granada Hills Charter High School Mental Health Resources (Wellness Center): https://sites.google.com/ghctk12.com/ghc-wellness-center/home