Among the many aspects that determine our overall health, mental health is often neglected. I’m always curious about the wide range of things people do to take care of their emotional well-being, so I thought I’d share a few things that help me.
Ever since living in Finland, motherland of the sauna, I go out of my way to be naked in hot rooms. It puts my worries in perspective and it’s where I do some of my best thinking. It also makes me present for my body and tend to the tensions I usually ignore. I miss the Finnish lifestyle where it’s a regular way to hang out with friends. Let’s revive the Golden Age of Bathing and center our cities around saunas and steam rooms, thermal pools and civic hot tubs.
Whether dreams are the trash can of the mind or a window to the subconscious, they’re a compelling and entertaining entry to simmer on my current confusions. Making collages of my dreams has been good medicine for my psychological well-being. They become ongoing personal fables that encourage me in constructive ways. So has dream group, where a bunch of us get together with a Jungian analyst to discuss our dreams together.
I’m always restored and inspired when I meander museums with the people I love. It helps me feel connected to greater history and simmer on some of the most profound parts of being human. When we go from room to room, we like to guess which artwork/artifact is the other person’s favorite or resonates most at the moment. It usually leads to insight, or at least a good laugh.
After feeling weighed down by stuff, I scanned and threw away years of notebooks and went digital. I like using the app Day One to keep a daily journal and be rigorous about reflection. It’s well-designed and you can easily see your entries “on this day” from previous years, which connects me to my personal history in an illuminating way I’ve never experienced before. I also keep a dream journal here, where I can tag entries to see recurring symbols emerge, like tigers, stairs, and death.
The I Ching is one of the oldest books in the world and offers poetic guidance that can be applied to any situation. I use it as an engaging framework to examine my anxieties with new perspective and consider the role I play in any relationship. Translations are widely different so I use a few. It’s been so helpful, I reinterpreted it into an interactive mural called The Atlas of Tomorrow, and I’m now working on an extended book version that will be a dark and surreal toolkit for the modern mind.