Creative Conscience – Mental Health

Anxiety Self Help Guide

THE BREIF

There were many different avenues I could go down in response to this brief. As an individual I have experienced my own battle with mental health both directly and indirectly. I hope that throughout my career as a creative I can hone my talents into making a change, standing up for minorities and helping people.

I wanted to create something that I feel is extremely necessary in today’s climate. Looking to the future and the after-affect of the global pandemic, we are entering a spike in mental health concerns. Due to economic declines and social-distancing regulations everyone is feeling the effect of mental illness more than ever. People who are living alone are more vulnerable than ever to the monsters within their head, those dealing with past traumas and grief are effected by this fear of danger and fatality, those with phobic anxiety disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are feeling more frightened than ever around phobias, germs and dirt in particular.


INSPIRATION

One of my all time favourite books called ‘Notes On A Nervous Planet” written by Matt Haig, is a big inspiration throughout my response to this brief. Within this book Haig talks about the affects of the modern world upon our mental wellness and his own experiences with an Anxiety Disorder. Living in the fast paced world that provides instant gratification and constantly prevalent pressure to be more, do more and spend more – anxiety disorders are too common amongst us all and also misunderstood. Anxiety is not just a feeling we all experience from time-to-time but can be a reaction to stress that is overwhelming and damaging to our wellbeing.


colour psychology

For my first response I wanted to create something the explores the different moods we experience as human beings, I felt it was important to understand the relationship between emotion and colour as a creative. I curated a visual representation of my research into colour psychology using oil based paints and some kitchen tiles that had no longer been in use. (When it comes to creating visual artwork such as paintings, I love to use recycled materials.)

Do you feel anxious in a yellow room? Does the colour blue make you feel calm and relaxed? Artists and interior designers have long believed that colour can dramatically affect moods, feelings, and emotions. “Colours, like features, follow the changes of the emotions,” the artist Pablo Picasso once remarked.

Colour is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, influence mood, and even influence physiological reactions. Certain colours have been associated with increased blood pressure, increased metabolism, and eyestrain. So how exactly does colour work? How is colour believed to impact mood and behaviour?

Despite the general lack of research in this area, the concept of colour psychology has become a hot topic in marketing, art, design, and other areas. Much of the evidence in this emerging area is anecdotal at best, but researchers and experts have made a few important discoveries and observations about the psychology of colour and the effect it has on moods, feelings, and behaviours.

Your feelings about colour are often deeply personal and rooted in your own experience or culture

For example, while the colour white is used in many Western countries to represent purity and innocence, it is seen as a symbol of mourning in many Eastern countries.


anxiety

I have my own personal experiences with anxiety and the effects it can have on both the body and mind. Growing up as a young girl, I often experienced bouts of social anxiety without knowing that what I was feeling was normal. Throughout my teenage years I often felt isolated when it came to social groups, even within my own close friend group there was always a voice inside my head telling me that I wasn’t good enough, everyone was laughing at me, no one wanted me there etc. This is something that I feel a lot of young people today are experiencing more and more. Social media today has provided a place that promises a sense of feeling more connected. However, we are all feeling more isolated than ever before – not just due to social distancing regulations but the fact that people in general feel less of a need to contact, communicate and support one another as they’ll see people they know present their ‘perfect lifestyle’ on social media. 

Anxiety Disorders are real, impactful and can be completely debilitating to some. Have you ever woken up feeling a sense of dread about the day? Have you ever stayed awake all night due to racing thoughts in your mind? Have you ever felt a heavy weight on your chest after hearing some bad news? That is anxiety.

Some people have to experience those kind of feeling every single day and it can have a huge impact on their day-to-day life. Within modern culture today the word anxiety gets passed around a lot and feeling anxious is something that is all too common in our fast-paced lifestyle. A sense of ‘Fight or Flight’ is our bodies way of keeping us safe when our ancestors encountered a Lion for example. However, in todays world we are likely to experience those same feelings with things that are way less of a threat as we don’t encounter the same threats that we once did. 

I want to clarify a difference between feeling a bit anxious because maybe you have a work deadline coming up and feeling anxious because you have an anxiety disorder. The more awareness I can spread about anxiety disorders, the more we can prevent people from feeling isolated and alone in their fears or phobias.

what is my response?

I decided to create an Anxiety Self Help Guide that is factually correct and backed up by health professionals, easy to digest and understand, and  can be used in lots of different industries. I decided to approach this design of this zine with a far more professional and minimalistic than usual. (Thus keeping out my usual little quirky illustrations and style) As I wanted to have a serious tone surrounding a serious topic.

WHAT DID I LEARN?

I learnt a lot about anxiety whilst creating this guide and have knowledge now which can help me with my own battles of anxiety now and in the foreseeable future. I have symptoms of PTSD after a trauma I experienced in 2017. I learnt through creating this zine that some things I felt were just abnormalities unique to me are actually signs of post-traumatic stress, for example, I ‘flinch’ easily when someone makes a sudden movement close to my proximity. This was something that others have innocently found humorous and named me a ‘wuss’. I now understand that this is a reflex and trigger and unconscious mind is fearful of being hurt so is therefore way more vigilant and hyperconscious of these kinds of situations

how will this help?

This guide is designed to educate people on anxiety in a way that they may not have seen or researched into before. It’s designed to help the reader feel reassured, understood and to let them know they are not alone in their struggle. There is an explanation of the types of treatments whether that’s with medication or without, and further details into how those treatments might work. There is also information on charities within the UK that can provide further information and support.


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