Two years ago, I was convinced organizations should use creativity to cope with a certain challenge. Creativity would help them to find better ways and more suitable solutions that positively would affect the way to cope with the challenge and people’s health, due to the positive effects creativity has on health. However, one year ago, I found out creativity does not have such a positive effect on our health after all. That it even, in some cases, turned out to be a stimulus for the increase in mental health issues. My view of the importance of creativity expanded to the importance of experiencing momentarily escapes of play to step back from daily routines, to take rest, and recharge.
Still a problem
Anyway, Now, my perspective has grown again. I still see mental health issues in society are a problem. Especially now while we are facing the consequences of COVID-19. COVID-19 causes widespread concern, fear, and stress. This is because stress is a normal reaction when something changes or becomes uncertain. Due to COVID-19, we have to manage and react to a stressful situation, as a result, mental health issues grow (Kluge, 2020).
Today, I still see the importance of playing as a momentarily escape, however, my perspective on it has been broadened again. I think the most important factor of the increase of mental health issues, is that people want to improve their personal health, but that they are not capable of doing it, because they just do not know how to do it. In my previous blog post I wrote about the importance of reflection, in this blog post I will tell you how people can improve their mental health through a momentarily escape other than play.
If you are anything like me and most people, there probably is something about your health you would like to change. It might be about your physical health, as nutrition or exercise, your emotional health as, how your self-image has developed, or maybe you want to release stress. Either way, living with the desire to change, all day long can be both exhausting and challenging. Resulted, that it sometimes seems, the change will never happen. Surprisingly, change always is possible… if you just know how to.
Focus on the present
If people want to change, often they look to the future. They are making future steps on how they are going to do things differently. However, everything that happens in our mind relating to the future is nothing but an idea, an image, or a projection. So, as long as this idea remains in the future, there is nothing you can do to change it, as it has yet to happen. Another way to look through change is to look to the past, to see what you did wrong. Then you reflect or analyze a situation to see how it could be done differently (Paltrow, 2008-2020). However, as a person of the target group of The Green Happiness said to me during her interview:
“the future is something I cannot predict, the past does not help me since it keeps me returning to the same situation in my mind, which makes me feel exhausted. Therefore, I try to live life in the present because that is the only thing I can influence myself.”
This made me wonder. What kind of momentarily escapes could add to people’s capability to improve their mental health all by themselves? When we learn how to be present, how to be aware of each and every moment, then, real change begins to take place. It is all about experiencing a meaningful experience, that could transform your behavior and influence your future actions. Stephen R. Covey states that “instead of reacting to or worrying about conditions over which you have little or no control, proactive people focus their time and energy on things they can control”. We cannot control the future, and we cannot control the past, but we can control the present. Based on the circle of influence, we can control our personal actions, sayings, attitudes, spiritual focus, time management, exercises, rest, diet, and so on (Covey, 2018). So, we need to focus on the things we can influence, instead of the things we cannot influence.
Looking at the importance of being in the present and combining this with the momentarily escapes that improve mental health. I came to the conclusion that playing might not always be the case. At this point, I started to see the importance of mindfulness. Mindfulness has made its entrance into our society. People want to live more mindfulness, which means living life with full attention in the here and now. It enables people to look to the world in our reach with attention and satisfaction (Doren, 2019). What I think is really important with this trend, is that since we have experienced what our life looks like in a performance society, we feel rushed. Mindfulness makes people experience the here and now and the connection with their inner soul. Mindfulness brings us to the present! If we then look at the importance of the circle of influence, we can bring influence into our daily attitude, thoughts, and being with mindfulness.
Mindfulness and mental health
Despite the fact, mindfulness enables us to be in the present and to influence our behavior. It positively affects our mental health as well. According to Patricia Rockman researcher in embodied presence and inquiry in practices, mindfulness reduces stress, depression, and anxiety and it helps to regulate emotions. If people suffer from mental health problems, they often have a fixed and negative view of themselves and their circumstances. Mindfulness helps to give access to a different perspective. Besides, it opens other possibilities, it enhances resilience, and the capacity to tolerate distress (Walsh, 2017).
All in all, this broadened my perspective, from being convinced play is the perfect way to escape from daily patterns, towards the perspective that mindfulness might be a better solution. Change always is possible, and now we know how: besides play, mindfulness also shifts the focus from our mind to our body. But the reason why mindfulness might be better in some situations is that mindfulness brings us in the present.
In the here and now, the only thing we can influence and where we can do something if we want to change.
Covey, S. R. (2018, March 13). Circle of Influence – From The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Opgeroepen op May 18, 2020, van Franklin Covey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uj8dmSgQa1c
Paltrow, G. (2008-2020). How to Achieve Change through Mindfulness . Opgeroepen op May 14, 2020, van Goop: https://goop.com/wellness/mindfulness/change/
Walsh, K. (2017, October 5). Using Mindfulness for Mental Health. Opgeroepen op May 12, 2020, van Mindful: https://www.mindful.org/mindfulness-mental-health/