My photostream is punctuated with knitting at the moment.
There are so many good, big, things going on at the moment: birthdays, visits from small cousins, exams and essays (not just for me), high school open evenings and open mornings, meet-ups with grandparents and plans for my next placement. And in between all these important things, I knit a row here and there, cast on, rummage through patterns and consider yarn choices. I can lose myself in knitting more and more as I get better at it; and the ability to switch off, take some time for myself and be creative is so important for my mental health and general outlook on life.
Before I started my nursing degree, I rarely considered my emotional wellbeing - but now I am mindful of the very great stresses of the profession I am going into, as well as the more obvious stresses right now of a full-time degree, two children, four chickens and a husband trying to valiantly pick up all the pieces. I also come across so many issues to do with people's every day mental health and wellbeing during my training.
I now consciously try to incorporate activities into my life which make me stop, think, slow down and enjoy things. Running is great, walking as much as I can is very good too. Photography (just snaps on my phone) is a great tool for observing the smaller, prettier, more interesting things about my day.
And knitting. The soft squidge of the wool is so therapeutic. The sense of accomplishment is enormous. The colours and textures of what comes off the needles is both interesting and pleasing.
I'm not talking here about resolving serious mental health conditions by knitting and taking photos - mental health issues need trained nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals to treat them properly. But rather, it is about everyday mental wellbeing. So much is spoken about a healthy lifestyle in terms of stopping smoking, eating well, keeping your heart healthy, or your joints in good condition - but keeping your mind healthy is not discussed or promoted as much.
The NHS Choices website has a good basic article about 5 steps to mental wellbeing, and The Mental Health Foundation has some popular, free wellbeing podcasts as well as a good article on 10 ways everybody can look after their mental health. They don't mention the healing power of squidging lots of balls of wool, but they still have some pretty good advice and tips.
What about you? Is knitting the key to your mental wellbeing? Do you consider your mental health alongside your physical health? How do you switch off and look after yourself?