Check In With Your Mental Health
With the first week of the Fringe drawing to a close it’s important to remember to look after yourself.
Like many creatives I have had my fair share of struggles with mental health problems and I know the stresses both emotional and physical that the festival can put on you. I once ran away from the venue I was production managing and hid behind a tree so that I could no longer see it just to get a break.
In recent years people are talking more openly about mental health both in their shows and in content they put out to the public. This means slowly the walls that create the stigma around mental health are tumbling down.
So, before a complete mental breakdown ensues here are some things that have helped me cope over the years:
- Take some time just for you – you want something that is going to switch your brain off, stop those millions of thoughts from rushing round your head, quit working through those to do lists. Whether its for 10 minutes or a few hours just take some time out. Here are some suggestions:
o Take a bath or shower
o Just sit still with a cup of tea or coffee
o Watch some Netflix or catch up telly
o Listen to a podcast
o Do some mindfulness activities
o Mediate or sit and do some deep breathing
o Take yourself for a meal
o Read a book
o Play a game
o See a show that your interested in
- Self care – it can be easy to neglect yourself over the fringe and like the queer eye boys say this is the most important thing you can do! If you can’t care for yourself then you can’t be 100% in your arts business
o Clean your digs or do some laundry
o Get some sleep
o Do some exercise – Have a walk, do some yoga, go for a run, something you enjoy
o Detox for a day – cut out the alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine for a day. Even consider culling your social media time, even if it’s just for an hour.
o Healthy eating – so much easier said than done especially when you’re surrounded by millions of amazing food stands. My aim is generally just to go for one healthy-ish meal a day and it makes me feel like I’m trying.
o Attempt to keep some vague sense of a routine – it can be easy to want to burn the candle at both ends all day everyday because of FOMO but it’s almost impossible to maintain for an entire month so see if you can spend a few days going to bed and getting up at a similar time.
- Talk it out if your feeling low
o Text your friends
o Call your family
o Chat to a trained professional. Whether this is through an app online or asking advise at the Fringe society talking to someone detached from your situation is one of the most constructive things I’ve done.
o Another company – someone who is in the same boat, coping with the same things as you who will understand your gripes!
- Some other things to try:
o Write it down – something that helps me to make my thoughts a little clearer which helps me to articulate them a little better when I talk to people about it
o Make lists and work your way through small achievable tasks, after all, there is nothing better than crossing something you’ve completed off a list!
o Take some perspective – you are at the Fringe Festival working on something you love, you’ve already done something amazing so don’t get down on yourself, try challenging those negative thoughts and be proud of the small achievements
o Do something scary – face your fear, whether it’s going in a lift, climbing to the top of Arthur’s seat, taking yourself to dinner alone, try pushing yourself to doing something which makes you feel anxious. You may just realise it wasn’t so bad after all.
o Don’t be afraid to try medication, get an appointment from a drop-in service and see what your options are. Take it from someone who has tried every kind of medication under the sun – you will find one that suits you
o Herbal remedies – it is amazing how soothing a camomile tea can be
o Try something new – axe throwing, rage room, escape room, site specific show, there is no better place to try something new than at the Edinburgh Fringe
o Try to find a way to have fun – see a movie, meet up with friends, make plans and stick to them even if you don’t really feel like it, it may just cheer you up
o Learn more about mental health problems
There’s no quick fix but if one thing on this list helps even one person this festival then I’ve done something to help!
Don’t just run yourself to empty, try to find a balance this Fringe.