What do you do to help keep your head straight, to avoid or wash away life’s stresses and strains? Mindapples wants to know what the mental health equivalent of 5 fruit and veg-a-day might be. Many of those who took part in the Arts Debate suggested the arts were useful in this respect. ‘Art makes me feel less alone’, for instance – a phrase so good we use it twice in the graphics of the Arts Council plan. Drop in and tell them what you do.
What do I do after a hard day at the executive coalface to keep myself more or less healthy, I hear you ask? Listen to music as I drive home – although simply buying records can help! Read a book over breakfast. Play fiveaside or go to the gym. Have a meal at the kitchen table with my family. Noodle around on the guitar. Sing some old songs.
I don’t write poetry for my health, by the way – in fact I take it so seriously it can have the reverse effect on my mood. (Some years ago, whilst masquerading briefly as an academic, I published some research that suggested writing even bad poetry could be therapeutic, and there was some evidence that craft helped, but insisting on trying to be really good – let alone ‘great’ – and feeling you’d failed could be bad for the nerves.)
Right, I’m off to see a play now, but as it promises ‘seduction, perversion and love’ and warns of ‘full male and female nudity and scenes of a violent and sexual nature’, I’m not sure what it will do for my mental health!