Mental health first

Exploring how the MVHS community practices self-care

Anika Bhandarkar

Lindsey Tang

In addition to practicing the violin and playing basketball, junior and Social Media Manager of the Bullet Journaling Club Lindsey Tang often turns to bullet journaling as a form of self-care. She incorporates many different aspects of art into a single spread, using materials like calligraphy pens, washi tape and stickers to create an aesthetically pleasing design.

Photo by Anika Bhandarkar

Tang explains that she usually focuses on monthly spreads, in which she first writes the name of the month in calligraphy and then decorates the spread using colors that she associates with the month. She says she relates summer months with blues, aqua and teal because they remind her of the beach, and tends to use more reds, yellows and browns during the fall.

On the spreads, Tang journals her life by tracking how she feels each day, making playlists of songs she enjoyed that month and cataloging other interests. She often uses colors to express her feelings — such as using blues and grays when she’s sad. Tang explains that mood tracking makes her more aware of how she feels and helps her find solutions to problems. 

In addition to monthly spreads, Tang also journals by documenting important events like trips she goes on. She explains that she sometimes takes pictures, prints them out and writes about the event. 

“Sometimes when I’m feeling like I want to express myself, I just open a blank page and don’t even bother making it pretty,” Tang said. “I just write what I think, and I really like coming back to these [spreads] and just reading my experiences.”

Tang explains that bullet journaling is a way for her to express herself and catalog her thoughts in a single place, and it allows her to write her feelings down without talking to anyone, which often helps her express herself more creatively.

“[Bullet journaling] makes me aware of what I’m feeling and when I’m more aware of how I feel, I kind of think about how I can fix it if it’s negative,” Tang said. “It’s just nice to write it down.”


Adriana Hernandez

Huichol earrings made by Hernandez. Photo courtesy of Adriana Hernandez | Used with permission

Sophomore Adriana Hernandez makes handmade earrings as a form of self-care. She explains that her grandmother had a business making earrings, and she grew up making them. Hernandez makes her jewelry with beads using an indigenous design process native to the Oaxaca region of Mexico where Hernandez’s family is from. 

The process, called Huichol, involves weaving many small glass beads together to form intricate designs. Huichol is known for its vibrant colors and complex designs that often symbolize elements of the Huichol tribe

Huichol art often features three specific elements — deer, corn and peyote. The deer is regarded as a sacred animal that represents fertility, and corn is seen as a source of all life. Peyote, a small cactus, is seen as a way of communicating with the gods. The three elements are a huge part of Huichol culture, and Huichol art is a form of expression. 

Making earrings soon became a hobby for Hernandez as she looked up videos on YouTube to learn more about the craft. Hernandez fondly remembers moments when she made earrings with her grandmother.

“We would sit outside her house on the patio and just relax [with] nature around us,” Hernandez said.


John Gilchrist

Instrumental music teacher John Gilchrist fondly recalls an unexpected performance at the beginning of a play called “White Sky, Falling Dragon” at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts. He explains that music often takes him to places that he might not expect to be, and allows him to have unique experiences such as opening the play as part of a traditional Chinese ensemble. Interacting with music brings Gilchrist joy, and he uses it as a form of self-care.

Gilchrist’s musical journey started in fourth grade, when he started drum lessons. In sixth grade, Gilchrist “started to click with different genres of music” he hadn’t earlier been exposed to, and it was then that he found a passion for music. Gilchrist slowly started learning and researching other percussion instruments such as the marimba and the timpani, eventually choosing to pursue music as a career.

Today, Gilchrist finds happiness not only from performing music, but by continuing to study it further. He explains that when he listens to music while looking at the sheet music for the first time, he often starts to “see and hear all these things [he’s]I’ve never noticed before.” He says that having a deeper understanding of the music allows him more enjoyment. Gilchrist also mentions that music is a therapeutic experience for him, not only as a teacher, but as a listener and performer. He frequently listens to music to “transport [himself] somewhere else and take his mind off things that bother him.” 

“Performing music helps take me out of whatever stress I may be dealing with and puts me in [a situation] where my goal is to make the music as beautiful as possible,” Gilchrist said. “And that’s the only thing I really have to focus on.”

Gilchrist believes that music is an important form of self-care that everyone can and should engage in. He encourages people to interact with music, even if it seems unapproachable or like it’s too late to learn.

“I think that everybody should engage with music in some way in their life,” Gilchrist said. “Beyond just listening to it, but actually participating in playing music and creating music because I think that that is its own special kind of therapy.”