One of the major news last year was of Mr Lim Chai Heng, 53 who caused the dramatic accident on the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE).
Procurement officer Rozaidy Mokhtar, who approached Mr Lim after the accident, said he was seen “sitting down, mumbling and talking to himself”. His son expressed that his father (Mr Lim) was “depressed”, and apologised for the accident.
As a practitioner in the mental health sector, it saddens me when news of such scale surface. Depression, likewise to many mental illnesses are complex disorders that require pro-long periods of treatment.
Medications currently available for treatment of mental illness symptoms are wonderful; they enable clients to live a functional, contributing life. Nonetheless we also do encourage clients to explore productive exercises and activities in an effort to wean off medications.
Here are 8 female-centric “productive fidgets” that one can explore while mitigating the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
1. KNIT OR CROCHET
Knitting is often a favorite amongst female audiences, because of the simple, repetitive motion. Knitting is basically tying identical knots over and over in a line, and then at the end of the line flipping over and doing the exact same thing in the opposite direction. Creating simple square or rectangular-shaped pieces (scarves, baby blankets) requires only minimal thought, but simultaneously fully engages both hands and the eyes, as well as allowing the ‘maker’ to daydream of the person for whom the item is for.
2. WRITING LISTS
There is perhaps no more “socially acceptable” fidget than playing with our phone. You may visualize what’s needed in your home; list out two to four days worth of groceries for breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. You may ask take an extra step in thinking how ‘awkward leftover items’ in the refrigerator (i.e. egg, onions) could be utilised.
Whilst on your phone, access your email account and start deleting redundant emails beyond 8 years old. Make new email folders and delete the existing ones that are inappropriate. Sort and organize the apps on your phone into new or more logical files.
4. FOCUSED EXERCISES/STRETCHING
Hug yourself tightly. Reach your hands across your back and pull. Point and flex your feet. Pull your knees up to your chest. Stretching improves flexibility and overall health. Try to stretch a little more each day.
5. WRITE LETTERS TO FAMILY/OLD FRIENDS/FUTURE SELF
Missing a friend or two? When was the last time you spoke? What do you miss about them? Instead of using new media, how about writing a letter. It breaks you from mental noises as you consolidate your thoughts into a succinct letter.
6. RECORD MEMORIES
As we engage in our daily activities, we often have moments of insights and new discoveries. Ever wondered if you wrote all those things down, you’ll be well on your way to a coffee table book. That text plus some visuals could make a coffee table book your guest would really be interested in.
7. LEARN SOMETHING/READ SOMETHING
Some researches have shown the effects of learning/acquiring new knowledge can be as elating and satisfying as ‘sex’. Start with short articles (such as this) over the Internet. Before long you will be downloading ebooks on your phone/ipad/kindle.
8. CREATE SOMETHING ARTISTIC
This is a vastly open-ended option. Create something you are good at. Create something that you can be proud off. Something that nourishes your confidence. Something that direct positive effects on your brain and behavior. Focus on the process of the work, while being gentle with the outcome. Getting something done rocks! Nothing else matters.
Empower yourself with this knowledge.
Lewinsohn, P. M., & Graf, M. (1973). Pleasant activities and depression. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 41(2), 261.
Litman, J. (2005). Curiosity and the pleasures of learning: Wanting and liking new information. Cognition & emotion, 19(6), 793-814.
Sok, S., Yang, K. S., & Kim, K. B. (2005). The Effect of Morning Stretching on Depression and Motivation of Rehabilitation for Stroke Patients. Journal of Korean Academy of Adult Nursing, 17(4), 573-582.