“What was one thing that you were stressed about this week?” The young people present responded to the question thoughtfully. They were then instructed to pen down how they felt immediately after the stressful incident and how they felt a day later. This was a simple exercise in developing self-awareness because when we document an experience, we are listening carefully to ourselves. Over time, we become more familiar and comfortable with our emotions, which puts us in a better place to prevent them from upsetting our well-being.
However, not all of us can find the words to say how we feel. One young person wrote that she feels so much inside, but she just cannot explain or express herself. Speaking and writing are not means of expression for her and she would have spoken for almost all her peers in the room.
There was a yearning to be able to express themselves and everyone gamely participated when asked to create a collage that captured their emotions arising from their stressful incident. Patiently, they browsed old magazines and cut out pictures or words that reflected their emotions. Through this craftwork, their emotions found their voice; as the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words.
Our youth was once again participating in a workshop with students from the Singapore Management University to explore how art could be a viable means of regulating emotions for better mental health. The sources of stress between them and the undergraduates were different but both groups found movies, music, and craft helpful ways of reflecting on their own situation and regaining balance as well as a sense of proportion toward their challenges. In other words, these activities truly served as effective recreation.
It has been said that if bread is the first necessity of life, recreation is a close second. Perhaps, good mental health is an ongoing endeavour to recreate some joy in our lives each and every day.
For peace, community, and recreation,