New Paths, Old Trails

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Often I feel the need to just explore what I’m thinking, to blaze new paths for any problems I might be having. I don’t have any specialized tools to manage my mental health, but I keep a trail of drawings, writing, and photos that help me reflect on different moments in my life. And I try to keep distractions away from these things, to help me concentrate on the things I care about.

For me, being in a good state of mind is really about keeping a diary of what I’m feeling and thinking that’s so important. Documenting these things in different ways - whether it’s drawing, writing, or taking a photo - always gives me a different perspective. Then I can take a moment, step out of the world of what I’m thinking and feeling, and reflect on it from the outside.

A big part of making this happen is being close to distraction-free. I’ll often go somewhere outside, or at least to a quiet coffee shop where I can have some alone time. The general buzz of the city and people don’t bother me much, but I’ll get too distracted if there’s too much loud music or something going on. The key is to be able to center on what’s going on in my head.

I was reading this article yesterday about how digital devices are interrupting us in our time to be alone with our thoughts. I think I’ve fallen to this condition pretty hard over the last few years. It’s difficult to remember a time when I didn’t have a mobile phone that doubled as a full computer, with so many time-filling tools at my fingertips.

I’ve taken extra special attention to that this year, and try to only use my phone a few times a day in my downtime between things. I was feeling so distracted, and I wouldn’t remember things as easily. Instead of checking Facebook or Twitter, I try to think about things more and embrace the silence (or noise) around me. Ironically, I think the best tool I have for managing my mental health in this way is my own brain. Getting in the habit of not using things to fill the empty spaces in life is incredibly hard if you’re used to thinking or doing something all the time. But as soon as I set myself these little rules, like not checking my phone at certain times during the day - these feelings of distraction have started to disappear.

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