Taking care of your mental health can be a bit of a chore if that’s not something you’re already mindful (ha ha) of. To be honest, taking care of your health in general can sometimes be a chore. I think it’s hard to self-discipline yourself when you don’t feel the immediate consequences of your actions. It just doesn’t feel like not sleeping well or not eating healthy is going to affect you right. now. and so it’s easier to just give in sometimes.
So it’s nice to have reminders every once in a while to keep yourself on track, especially during times when things are going relatively well and you think you don’t actually need those reminders.
This past Wednesday was Mindfest, a “festival to create awareness and gain appreciation for mental health.” I had missed out on Mindfest last year (check out Madelin’s blog from last year if you missed out as well), and so I was glad I had a chance to go this year.
I started the day off with a Suminagashi workshop: the art of Japanese paper marbling. Something I had never tried before. It was nice to start the day off with something crafty as I knew my Mindfest-ing would later be interrupted by class.
I had no expectations for this workshop, but already I was kind of bummed when I started working on my ink swirls, as they were barely visible and the little patterns and circles I tried to draw with my brush weren’t really showing up that well.
“You just have to let go of the process.” So of course it was a nice surprise when the end product actually turned out to be something I liked. What was I saying again about not needing reminders?
Later on I attended a presentation on depression and aging and a quote that was shared really struck me.
“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.”
– Joan Didion
Again, I’m well-acquainted with the (personal) importance of self-reflection and writing, but sometimes I let those activities go by the wayside and my health suffers for it. Also, something interesting: this presentation on depression in the elderly (but also in the general population) was a last minute decision on my part (another workshop had been full), but it turned out to be the workshop I got the most out of.
I made it out to a few more presentations after this one before I had to leave unfortunately.
As a closing note, I’ll say this: What I really loved most about the Fest was my ability to interact and share and experience all the different sides of mental wellness with people who I would not necessarily interact with on a daily basis. I took a yoga class with some high school students, tried a new craft with public school teachers and retirees, sat in on some fascinating talks with faculty members and mental health professionals. More than ever I realize how important it is for me, personally, to engage and participate and thrive in communities outside of the U of T bubble. Maybe it’s because I’m coming in from a slightly different perspective after having taken a few years off from school and returning (Jasper just recently touched on a related topic in his blog as well). Either way, it was nice to take a breather from the craziness of school life. You’ll definitely see me at Mindfest next year.