When you’re coping with mental health issues, it’s important to have strategies to help yourself through difficult moments — and it’s also important to remember to pull them out when you need them. Cards for Calm, a new game that promotes mentally healthy habits, aims to help you do just that.
Creator Stuart Fitzwilliam spoke with GOOD about his reasons for creating Cards For Calm, which sprung from his own experiences coping with depression.
The whole thing sprang out of my own experience. Almost exactly two years ago this month, I began treatment for depression. I [have been] in remission for over a year and a half now and all of the techniques that essentially went into the cards are various things I learned in therapy and things I’ve used since recovery to help me stay on track. One of the issues is always that little active negativity and habits can sometimes spiral… leading to relapse. So these are all things I use just to manage my own symptoms.
One of the real things I’ve found, especially before I found treatment, was that people don’t tend to talk about things like depression. Especially if you look specifically at the male demographic, we’re traditionally encouraged to not talk about our feelings. So I wanted to come up with a way that would help people think about these things and help them deal with their own personal issues and anxieties. But also try and find a way to let them either deal with it themselves or sit down with friends and create an environment where people would feel safe sharing little things that they wanted to work on about themselves. And that’s really where the idea of the card game sprang from.
Included in the deck are two types of cards: questions and answers. The first poses questions that might be relevant to your personal struggles.
“Pick a task you’ve been avoiding and ask honestly why you’ve been avoiding it. Does it seem too scary? Too big to accomplish? Too much of a change if you succeed or fail?”
Answer cards turn that around and suggest ways to handle those challenges: “When you’re performing the task, focus on every action you take; each action is important, as it gives you access to energy you’d otherwise waste avoiding the task … What positive things could you be using that energy to achieve?”
Most are pretty general, but that’s the point: you can pick up a pair of cards at any point in the day and get a small reminder to think about your circumstances and how you could make them a little better for yourself. You can also use them to open a dialogue with people around you who might need a little support — and might be able to offer you some, too.
Cards for Calm is on Kickstarter now if you’re interested in a physical deck, and Fitzwilliam also offers a free, zero-obligation print-at-home version. Just keep in mind that Fitzwilliam isn’t a mental health professional, and Cards For Calm definitely shouldn’t be used as a replacement for professional mental health care.