Let me begin by saying I am not a mental health practitioner. Everything that I am going to say is a suggestion only and just my personal opinion. Anxiety and depression are serious medical issues. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Things are a bit shit at the moment, to put it bluntly. Everything that is going on has led to a huge amount of anxiety for a lot of people. I think we all need something to take our minds off things.
I know we’ve all got our LEGO sets to build but sometimes you need something else, and Build Yourself Happy by Abbie Headon is a great option. It’s a book that looks at simple ways you can use LEGO to improve your mental state.
If you are looking for something to help you justify spending $250 on a modular to your less than supportive partner then this book isn’t for you.
This book is about Mindfulness.
What you get with this book is a series of mindfulness exercises that integrate LEGO in unique ways. It’s not specifically about building, although there are some building activities.
One example of an exercise that is a bit different is a section called Turn Down The Volume. Rather than telling you to build, this section talks about swishing bricks around and listening to the sounds. It’s not your traditional AFOL activity but I did find this really relaxing. There’s a distinctive symphony to a pile of LEGO bricks.
Another interesting activity is the sleeping brick. It’s a task meant to stop you using your phone so much. The idea is you place your phone face down with a “sleeping” LEGO brick on it. Picking your phone up means waking the brick. It’s a little silly and requires you to commit to the gimmick, but having that little extra barrier before you pick up your phone to check Twitter for the 100th time today can sometimes be enough to stop you and keep you engaged with what is happening around you. There is such a constant stream of news and updates happening all day it can be hard to look away. The sleeping brick is a task that might help you disconnect.
A lot of the activities require a little bit of your inner child coming out. That may not be to everybody’s taste. I am fine with getting a bit silly, but I still struggled slightly with the writing style. Everything is littered with little quips that got a bit much. I get the desire to keep it light but for me it almost tries too hard. I kind of just wanted to see the details of an exercise and the benefits/justification for it.
This book isn’t designed to make a global pandemic better – it’s not going to be much comfort if you lose your job. Having said that there are definitely a few things that I have picked up that I am trying to integrate in to my life. A few ways to engage with bricks in a way that helps me deal with things like depressing news updates. These are things that I can do when I can’t build a set. For example when I am working from home it’s tempting to build a big set, but if I start that I won’t get any work done. These activities are ways I can engage with LEGO quickly and calm my mind.
For me that was something great that I got out of the book; not so much specifics but a framework that I play with to find the things that worked for me.
As I said if you are an AFOL who already uses building as your “happy place” you might not get a heap from this. If you are looking for a unique approach to mindfulness then this is a good buy.
I’d suggest that this would be a brilliant gift for somebody that you know who would benefit from stuff like relaxation and mindfulness techniques but may not necessarily be open to a self-help book. Maybe bundle this up with some bricks and do a few exercises together.
You should be able to find Build Yourself Happy at most online book stores. It’s available from Amazon for $16.90 with Prime Delivery. [affiliate link]