Mental health and creative arts – Guest blog post by Rebekah Horton

Photo of Rebekah Horton, author of this guest blog post.

Why the creative arts are important to your mental health and wellbeing

Hi! I’m Rebekah Horton – a self-employed autistic content creator. Last year, I set up a creative marketing business called RH Creations which includes writing, photography, filmmaking and book design productions for small and micro charities. The most important thing for me is for everyone’s voices and stories to be heard through my creative services.

In terms of expressing myself as a basis for my career, I aim to support others by giving them a creative platform to tell their stories. I also want to support other people by promoting them and helping them to build authentic relationships with the public, especially after experiencing the lockdowns. Everyone can relate to original stories and sharing them does help to bring out the benefits for our wellbeing. I’ve also found that sharing stories can support others and become a source of comfort and nostalgia because the process forms an intimate connection for the audience and shows everyone how far we have all come on our own unique journeys.

Mixing mental health with creative arts

I’ve found that mental health and the creative arts go hand in hand as the best way to express yourself. It’s not only that there’s no right way or wrong way to produce a creative piece, whether that’s art, music, poetry, or film, but also that you have full control to express however much you want to your audience. I’ve discovered that exploring the creative arts has been helping me with my confidence and my motivation to learn new skills. If I think about living without creative arts, I believe my mental health would certainly suffer in not being able to express my true feelings.

Writing, in particular, has helped me to express myself since I was in school because it is therapeutic. It is so refreshing to just take all of your anger and frustration out on a blank page, and it doesn’t shout back. During this, you can feel the pressure sliding off your shoulders and writing can be educational because you get to learn more about yourself and how far you’ve come in helping your mental health to recover from negative experiences. I understand that for many, the thought of pouring your feelings and emotions out onto a page can be daunting when the thought of ‘Is this good enough?’ dominates your mind. Writing helps to express yourself by learning to be honest and trust in your own voice. To show your authentic voice, I believe it’s important to be open-minded, and this will help to allow your audience to relate to you and your story.

What are the negative impacts?

Unfortunately, the negative impacts on the wellbeing for those who can’t express themselves are the feelings of needing to bottle up their emotions. This could be because of anxiety, stress, depression and also isolating yourself in fear of being rejected for being different. This is another reason why experimenting with creative arts can help because it allows people to explore expressing themselves in different ways, especially if they struggle to express through words.

Through personal experience, I’ve found that when I’m feeling anxious it feels like there’s a brick wall in front of me, not able to share my feelings and believing that I’ll just be a burden to everyone. There have been times when I struggle to get out of bed because my confidence in myself gets shattered and my head fills with doubt. To move from negative to positive, I’ve found one of the best ways is to make a mental list of all of the positives I’ve achieved, and through writing, I am able to relax and keep a clear head, especially when I don’t feel ready to talk to anyone.

Living through 2020 was, I believe, the year that the tables were turned. Watching the news to find large queues of people waiting to apply for benefits and the government changing the rules, causing more confusion and frustration. For many disabled people, this is what daily life looks like. The change of routine is scary, the sense of security vanishes in front of your eyes. Having a close support group can help your wellbeing because you’ll be able to adapt to the dramatic changes and set a new routine with the online world.

What is your latest poem?

I have shared my latest poem ‘Unique Ability’, and I hope it will be a source of comfort for you. I understand what it’s like to be judged and misunderstood, especially from people who don’t know you and make assumptions about you – this can cause serious damage to your mental health and wellbeing. I also want to share with you the importance of believing in yourself and to choose what your limits are.

What’s the most important thing for you?

The important thing to remember is to take your time and feel comfortable in your own creative way to express yourself. Not only will it help to boost your confidence, mental health and wellbeing, but it will also help with building trust with yourself and your unique talents. Learning and sharpening your skills is not a race and, once you feel ready, you can inspire other people by educating them about your experiences.

I would like to thank Step One Charity for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you and I hope that everyone is keeping well. Expressing yourself is essential, especially after experiencing 2020. Never feel afraid to share your true feelings and be confident in presenting your stories through many creative ways.

Rebekah Horton is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and Semantic Pragmatic Language Disorder and she set up her own business, RH Creations, last year.

RH Creations is a creative business that provides marketing content for small and micro charities. Rebekah’s passion is to combine mental health with creative arts to support people expressing their voices and stories. Rebekah believes that it is essential for our mental health and wellbeing to express ourselves freely and without judgement.

Knowing the fear of not standing out from the crowd, Rebekah believes that being creative can help present the honesty and raw truth for your authentic voice and intimate connection with your audience.

You can see Rebekah’s work here and at www.rebekahhorton.com

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