10 poems to help support our mental health

It is okay to admit that you have some down days where you don’t quite feel yourself. Here are some poems about mental health to get you through some of those low moments.

mental health days

by Ellen Kinsey |

It's completely normal to feel a little flat from time to time, but it's important to keep in tune with your mental health and do what feels right for you.

Whether that be to curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea, call a friend or go on a refreshing walk.

While different things work for different people, words can have a profound effect when you're having a difficult time. Poetry really is art, and poets really do have the ability of helping us understand our inner workings.

Here are our favourite mental health poems that you may relate to or can help on days where you need a little pick-me-up.

Natural by Nayyirah Waheed

Expect sadness like you expect rain.

Both cleanse you.

What can we learn from this? We all know that tough times are just a natural and normal part of life, but we can take comfort from the fact we will come out of the other end with strength, resilience and a new outlook on life.

reflecting

Rising by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

Sometimes it is enough

to survive

the day, withstanding

the tide that

whips sea-

debris of old car parts

and scattered walls

slicing up your shins

and palms.

But today

you got up

and even though it

would have been exquisite

to lay down

a relief to stay

under

you got back up

and through

What can we learn from this? There is so much strength in getting up in a morning and carrying on, and you need to give yourself more credit for the strength you're showing everyday by getting up.

Stop by Susan Davidson

I used to say ‘Stop the world, I wanna get off’

Now I’ve realised I’m the one who needs to stop

Stop filling every waking minute

Taking every silent space and putting something in it

Stop striving, trying to hard to be the best

When what my mind is crying out for is a rest

Remember kindness, peace and loving

Just breathe, and feel, and notice without judging

Because, as Shakespeare said those many years ago,

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”

What can we learn from this? Give yourself a break. It's okay to just sit and do nothing, despite the fact we're always told to fill our time by being productive. Sometimes, you just need a rest.

holding someone

Poem (unnamed) from The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

When the world comes crashing at your feet

it’s okay to let others

help pick up the pieces

if we’re present to take part in your happiness

when your circumstances are great

we are more than capable

of sharing your pain

What can we learn from this? Sharing your problems with the people who love you and asking for help can take some serious weight off of your shoulders. And don't worry about being a burden on people, the people you love will be thankful that you've opened up to them.

OCD by Neil Hilbon

The first time I saw her…

Everything in my head went quiet.

All the tics, all the constantly refreshing images just disappeared.

When you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you don’t really get quiet moments.

Even in bed, I’m thinking:

Did I lock the doors? Yes.

Did I wash my hands? Yes.

Did I lock the doors? Yes.

Did I wash my hands? Yes.

But when I saw her, the only thing I could think about was the hairpin curve of her lips..

Or the eyelash on her cheek —

the eyelash on her cheek —

the eyelash on her cheek.

(Extract - see full poem performed below)

What can we learn from this? This poem will really speak to those with OCD, and the difficult impacts it can have on your life. It also shines a light on the beauty we can find in those little moments of life of the people we love.

Resilience by Alex Elle

Look at you.

Still standing

after being

knocked down

and thrown out.

Look at you.

Still growing

after being

picked and plucked

and prodded out of

your home.

Look at you.

Still dancing

and singing

after being

defeated and disassembled.

Look at you, love.

Still here and hopeful

after it all.

What can we learn from this? There's always hope. Even when you've hit rock bottom, hope always remains. This is a reminder to keep going, because there is so much to love about life.

The owl and the chimpanzee by Jo Camacho.

The owl and the chimpanzee went to sea

In a beautiful boat called The Mind

The owl was sensible, clever and smart

The chimp was a little behind

The owl made decisions, based on fact

And knew where to steer its ship

The chimp reacted a little too fast

And often the boat would tip

The waves would come and crash aboard

The chimp would start to cry

Large tears would roll right down his face

Afraid that he would die

The chimp and the owl would wrestle at night

When the world was quiet and still

The chimp would jump up and rock the boat

And the boat would start to fill

Then the owl stepped in and grabbed a pail

And started to empty it out

And the chimp would start to get quite cross

And would often scream and shout

The battle continued night after night

Until the chimp started to see

That if it let the owl take control

A more peaceful night it would be

What can we learn from this? If you're familiar with the Chimp Paradox, you'll understand what this poem is referring to. We all have a primitive half of our brains, and sometimes, this can get the better of us. From time to time, we can benefit from listening to our inner owl.

talking about mental health

The Fury of Rainstorms by Anne Sexton

The rain drums down like red ants,
each bouncing off my window.
The ants are in great pain
and they cry out as they hit
as if their little legs were only
stitched on and their heads pasted.
And oh they bring to mind the grave,
so humble, so willing to be beat upon
with its awful lettering and
the body lying underneath
without an umbrella.
Depression is boring, I think
and I would do better to make
some soup and light up the cave.

What can we learn from this? Depression can feel different for everyone. Showing ourselves some self-love and shine some light in your cave.

Little Stones at My Window, by Mario Benedetti

Once in a while

joy throws little stones at my window

it wants to let me know that it's waiting for me

but today I'm calm

I'd almost say even-tempered

I'm going to keep anxiety locked up

and then lie flat on my back

which is an elegant and comfortable position

for receiving and believing news

who knows where I'll be next

or when my story will be taken into account

who knows what advice I still might come up with

and what easy way out I'll take not to follow it

don't worry, I won't gamble with an eviction

I won't tattoo remembering with forgetting

there are many things left to say and suppress

and many grapes left to fill our mouths

don't worry, I'm convinced

joy doesn't need to throw any more little stones

I'm coming

I'm coming

What can we learn from this? Good things are always on the horizon. There are no promises as to how long these good things will take to come, but they are there, and we should all hold onto some hope.

Eleven by Tanya Markul

The pain that made you

the odd one out

is the story

that connects you

to a healing world

What can we learn from this? Our life experiences and the hardship we've faced in life truly transform us into the people we are today.

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