Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Healing Power of Fandom: How Collecting Can Help Boost Mental Health

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This is a guest article by writer and fandom watcher Amanda Winstead

Filling up your shelves with collectibles from your favorite movie, TV show, game, book, or comic has more than just aesthetic appeal. Collecting memorabilia pertaining to a particular interest can actually boost your mental health. Fandoms give many people respite from the chaos and stress of everyday life. Accumulating items that mean something to you — from signed posters to blind box figures — can be a great way to embrace your passions and lean into your authentic self. Learn just how collecting memorabilia can enrich your life and boost your mental well-being.

Fandom Psychology

Fan psychology, in general, has a unique effect. Like anything else with a lot of discourse, fandoms can breed some negativity at times. However, they also empower their fans to share what they love about the media. A shared experience and fondness for the same thing can provide a much-needed sense of belonging and connectedness. Attending conventions, interacting on social media, joining in on forums, and collecting memorabilia are all part of that connection. 

Ways Collecting Memorabilia Boosts Mental Wellness

Collection of anime figures

Building a meaningful collection centered around an interest can have a particularly positive effect on your well-being. Pop culture collecting is common and serves as a way to support artists and other people who make the media possible. Beyond this, people also tend to collect memorabilia to enhance their own lives, build social connections, and even call back memories from childhood. Whatever the motive, collecting is a form of self-expression that has a profound effect on your mental health.

Allows Self-Expression

When you think of self-expression, you likely think of an art form like dance, music, and the written word. However, people can find all sorts of ways to express themselves. Not everyone has a creative talent that they’re passionate about. Even if they do, it’s possible that they still need an escape because their creative outlet has turned from a hobby into a job. In any case, collecting can serve as that outlet in many ways. 

The curation of your collection is unique to you. It relies heavily on your specific interests, preferences, and even abilities. Searching for a certain item that you have your eye on can be exhilarating and allow you to share that find with the world. This inherently expresses a part of your personality to others who are more primed to understand. 

Gives You a Deeper Understanding of Yourself

While on this journey to share your collection and express yourself through your choices, you may be surprised to learn some new things about yourself. Recognizing your mental health needs is an important part of living a holistically healthy life. In general, participating in fun activities, building bonds with others, and cultivating a balanced lifestyle are all key factors to keep on top of your mental wellness. They boost your mood and reduce stress while giving you a support system and soothing activity to fall back on when times are difficult. 

If you notice that you turn to collecting when times are stressful, that can give you insight into how you self-soothe. It can also show you patterns in your life that may trigger the need to mitigate your anxiety. Collecting memorabilia within a specific fandom is a perfect example of a hobby that can provide that safe haven for you to step back and learn about how to show up best for yourself every day. 

Boosts Life Satisfaction

A comic book collection

If you collect mindfully, it can provide you with a better quality of life. Building a collection, finding a perfect piece to add, and developing research and organization skills can give you an immense sense of accomplishment and self-worth. The fun of collecting can serve as a welcome distraction from daily stressors and allow your mind to rest. This boosts creativity and can trickle into other parts of your life. The more satisfied you are with life, the better you will feel. This translates to showing up better in your relationships, career, and self-care.

Preserves Aspects of the Self

Your inner child also deserves some attention. Many collectors get a burst of nostalgia when on the hunt. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be a similar interest that you had when you were a child, but that can certainly play a role. For example, you could be looking to preserve a part of yourself that wanted to collect video game memorabilia when you were a child, but you didn’t get the chance to express that. 

Now, you can explore many ways to collect as a gamer, from hunting down vintage games to curating costumes from your favorite franchise. Being able to participate in activities that elicit pure joy can work to heal your inner child. Your collection can allow you to hold onto and cherish unique parts of your personality. 

Enhances Social Connectedness

Sharing with other like-minded individuals in a fandom can give you camaraderie and a sense of belonging. Whether you post photos of your memorabilia, attend conventions, or have a core group of friends that collect together, conversations are bound to be facilitated by your collection. Fandoms, in general, allow open discourse and natural bonds to occur. The tangible sharing and trading of items just solidifies those connections and gives you a physical manifestation of friendships that extend beyond your shared interests.

Practicing Healthy Collecting

Collecting memorabilia should be approached as an art form. There is a historian-like level of detail that you must pay attention to, and you will feel the best if you curate your collection in a healthy way. When you start collecting, set parameters for yourself.  Prevent collecting from becoming hoarding by limiting yourself and conducting regular audits of your collection. This will give you a fulfilling task, anyway, as you will be able to catalog your collection and look back at how far you’ve come. If something no longer serves you, it’s okay to donate it, sell it, or pass it along to another adoring fan.

You should also set a budget for your fandom collection. The nature of collecting lends itself toward excess spending, but you can get ahead of the jump by setting a budget and sticking to it. You can still have fun while saving money when collecting. In fact, this can make it even more than a pursuit of the best deal. You will be more inclined to spend on items you really care about rather than anything that comes your way. You can even set up a reward system that allows you to buy a collectible when you hit certain savings milestones. Consider setting up a visual representation of how much you’ve saved and put a certain collectible after each milestone to motivate you.

The Future of Collectibles

When collecting, don’t forget to lose sight of the reason you started. You have a love for a certain piece of media and are part of a community that respects and explores that media creatively and curiously. Embrace your fandom and display your collection with pride, because it aids your well-being and allows you to be your authentic self.

Images via respective owners

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