I’m going to share something personal here. Hoping you, or a colleague, find it useful.
My Mom, Josephine (aka “Josie”) endured a lifetime of depression. She also experienced regular anxiety attacks.
For over 40 years, family doctors persuaded her that Valium was the solution. Pills, not plants, became her mental refuge. Cognitive therapy? That was for “weak” people.
As I witnessed her suffering, I felt helpless. So I did what every intelligent person tends to do: offer unsolicited advice.
I often tried to “fix” the issue by lecturing her about getting a second opinion. (We know how that usually turns out). A daughter’s “I know better than you” intervention seldom works.
Mom grew up in a different era, when medical teams were never questioned; options never scrutinized. That was a hard pill for me to swallow. I eventually did.
Today I feel more hopeful about mental health options. Massive advances in neuroscience, and alternative healing modalities have gone mainstream. It’s okay to admit when things are not okay.
I have invested 22 years studying and experimenting with holistic mental hygiene habits. And I will never stop learning. It’s a fascinating field of study.
I’m passing along many that work well for me. As we reflect on Mental Health Day 2022, create some time on our calendars to:
1. Go outside and look up at the sky.
2. Meditate for 5 minutes.
3. Call someone and thank them for something they did to create a positive impact in your life. (Thanks to Marshall Goldsmith for this suggestion; it’s now a weekly habit of mine).
4. Close our eyes, put our hands on our belly, and take 10 deep breaths.
5. Play with our pet.
6. Sing or chant out loud.
7. Write a thank you note. (email doesn’t count).
8. Create some white space in this week’s calendar.
9. Shorten one virtual meeting by 50%. Then keep the rest of that time completely FREE of electronic interruption.
10. Tell someone you love them.
11. Forgive yourself for a mistake you recently made. Take a breath. That moment reflects a previous you; it’s time to let it go.
12. Write in a journal. One sentence or word counts!
13. Set your intention for that next meeting (not a goal–just how you want to BE in that meeting). Write it down.
14. Exercise without any e-devices.
15. Listen to birds.
16. Prepare a simple, healthy meal. Free of sugar, fried, or processed foods. Eat slowly. Savor it.
17. Hug someone for at least 30 seconds. (long hugs are scientifically proven to release oxytocin).
18. Read a poem out loud (I like Hafiz, Mary Oliver, David Whyte, and Rumi).
19. Buy some sacred cacao and make hot (sugar free) cocoa. Or, herbal tea. Enjoy in silence.
20. Watch a comedy.
21. Share some corny jokes with a friend or colleague.
22. Then – send me your favorite one! (firstname.lastname@example.org).
These are some of the ways I keep myself calm, drug-free, and focused.
I wish Mom had access to these tools before she passed from a stroke in 2004. She died suddenly in Naples, Florida– 2 days before Hurricane Charlie ravaged the region. Sadly, she was unaware of what was possible without prescription drugs. My brother Mark and I miss her terribly. We still tell stories about Josie teaching water aerobics, preparing delectable pasta sauce and meatballs, and dressing to the nines for any occasion.
May we all find healthy refuge and calm through upcoming storms that may surface.
Copyright 2022, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.