Mental Health October: Self-Care Activities

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Outside of going to therapy and meditating, I have other hobbies that positively affect my mental well-being – read more about them below!

Consuming Media

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What an awkward way to say it!

In my previous post about meditation and mindfulness, I mentioned that silent mindfulness is a huge shift for me because I’m always listening to something. I love having background noise! In quarantine especially, I always have a YouTube video, fluffy Netflix show, or podcast playing in the background, whether it’s while working, cleaning, cooking, or whatever else I do during the day (honestly, I feel like I’m always doing one of those three things and nothing else – is this what Bill Murray felt like in Groundhog Day?).

Part of it is kind of like a game: I’ve built up huge queues of media – my “Watch Later” playlists in YouTube are 500+ videos long, there are days worth of podcasts and music downloaded to my phone, and I have long lists of TV shows and movies to get through, someday. Running down these queues, even if I’m not actively paying attention all the time, makes me feel “productive,” even if I’m otherwise sitting on the couch doing nothing else.

(I concede that the need to be productive all the time, even in this dumb little way, is inherently capitalist and could actually be considered harmful on some level! I can’t help it, I’m American!)

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Anyway, capitalism aside, consuming new media has been a great way to distract myself from the fact that I’m home all the time with no end in sight! My YouTube videos of choice are almost always travel or expat vloggers (as evidenced in my last post about YouTube). I watched The Sopranos as a way of re-connecting with my Northern New Jersey roots. Even reading the Crazy Rich Asians series in quarantine has let me daydream, not just about being a crazy rich Asian, but about a person who can own a jet and go places with it! Remember going places? Wild!

Making (Mostly Knotting) Things

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I’ve re-discovered my love for making things while in quarantine!

My therapist allowed me to bring in my forever-in-progress blanket to our sessions. She also mentioned that doing an activity like crocheting triggers the same centers of the brain as doing a math problem – and my little nerdy brain loved the idea of that! It makes total sense to me: math is just a matter of knowing the right patterns and grinding through the work to put them together to get a solution. Crocheting and knitting likewise require you to learn a couple of patterns, and repeat them a couple hundred (thousand? million?) times.

I taught myself some simple macrame in order to hang my plants and was pleasantly surprised to find that it soothed me in the same way. For example, I was stressed out about something and threw myself into figuring out a relatively complicated but very pretty knot. Hours later (hours feels like an exaggeration, but also the truth), my new plant hanger was complete, and I had been so wrapped up in making sure the knots were all straight and secure that couldn’t remember what I was mad about! Wild!

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I got a Skillshare membership with the intention of trying out new forms of art, but none of them have stuck with me the same way that the fiber arts have. For example, I’ve tried doing some drawing and lettering work, but have found it difficult to not compare myself to the many Instagram artists that I follow! I know it doesn’t matter and I need to suck in order to get better, but man, it’s a tough road.

Finally, writing this blog has even been a great source of stability for me! Brainstorming and setting up a schedule for posts and actually sitting down and writing them has given me much needed structure and purpose. So thank you, reader, for reading!!!

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