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RUOK? Drawing for Mental Health.

In the week that incorporates RUOK day and suicide prevention day, how are you doing? Yesterday, I filled in a Lifeline survey which was aimed at finding out how much we know about suicide and how we felt about it. I was reminded that in my own time at Lifeline, I learnt that those who personally knew someone who had suicided was more susceptible to going down that road themselves than those who did not.

Talk of suicide can be triggering, so if you are triggered by reading this, please let someone know that you are not OK. Sometimes, when we are confronted by the daily headlines, it can be hard to know what the point of it all is. There is no doubt that we are living in hard times and all of us feel stretched and overwhelmed at times.

To help myself, I turn to art, a kind of meditation which allows me to get mentally above the nonsense that the world seems so obsessed with. It doesn't matter if what you do is fantastic or not - even seasoned artists make some pretty bad art sometimes. The process is overwhelmingly more important than the product. Art activity can literally help to rewire your brain, so it is worth giving a try when life seems without colour. It helps you to notice what you haven't noticed before: the colour of leaves, the beauty of flowers (even on weeds!), the splendour of the night sky, the raptor high in the sky, the tiny frog you find in the garden. I honestly believe that if we all trained our brain to be more positive through art activity, the world would be a much kinder and happier place.

The Surrealists, a group of 20th Century artists who were interested in the unconscious mind, practiced what they termed 'automatic art'. Essentially, it is doodling. Find a quiet place and for ten minutes, draw - don't draw 'things' - literally just take your pencil/pen/crayon for a walk. Let your hand do its thing. Don't judge what you do or try to interpret it. Just do it. And I guarantee after 10 minutes, you will feel much better. You can listen to music if it helps, but don't talk to anyone else while you are drawing.

Have fun, and if you get a chance, let me know how you are going with your art and mental health.

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