As part of my April WELL Women Series, I shared a neat framework on mental wellness that I learned about this past Saturday on an NPR segment featuring Dr Su Varma, a psychiatrist out of New York. She was being interviewed on NPR about strategies for singles or people who live alone to manage the loneliness during the stay at home orders. I found that what she had to say was relevant and valuable to all of us. Here’s the link to the interview for you to listen in full. Below is my summary and how I practice these Ms as part of my WELL Woman journey.
- Mindfulness. It is absolutely critical for us to develop the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to pay attention, and to focus. When left unchecked, so many thoughts can run loose in our heads and cause us to get anxious, worried, or nervous. This mental wandering can drain our energy or can make us feel like we are in a tizzy. Now, especially in this time, we need to take time throughout the day and settle ourselves, get still and pay attention to what is going on around us and inside of us. Prayer, meditation, and breathing exercises are means of being mindful. For the believer, being mindful is really about connecting to God and to what is going on in our spirits. For me it is about being present in the Presence of God. Think about it, in Psalm 46, we are admonished, to be still and know that I am God. When you find your mind all over the place, and even when you go to pray and can’t seem to focus, you’ve got to settle yourself. Attend to the now and stay present in the moment. Start paying attention to your breathing and pray for the breath or Spirit of God to breathe through you. It helps me!
- Movement. Getting moving is a means of connecting with your body. There are so many benefits to exercise for our bodies, our minds, and our hearts. And even though you may not be able to exercise the way you used to, you’ve got to move—find time to stretch, exercise, walk or run. If you are walking or running outside, make sure you maintain social distancing. Follow the guidelines in your areas—wear your masks and gloves, but get moving. My gym has shared workout videos in our FB group. I love their workouts. Sometimes I just get on my treadmill and read or watch the news while I walk. But I try to get moving for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Mastery. Dr Su says mastery is about being creative. Some people are doing more cooking and baking, trying out new recipes. Some are organizing their closets and then giving the excess clothes to people in need. Some are taking classes. I am taking an 8-week on-line Creative Nonfiction writing class through the University of Chicago’s Graham School. I’m working on a new book and thought this is a great time to hone my writing even more! This may be the time to learn a new language using one of the many apps that are in the apps stores. But think about a skill you want to develop or hone. I have a number of friends with whom I play word games to relax and keep our creative juices flowing. My friends say our games are relaxing and I’m sure it helps them to focus.
- Meaningful connections. Healthy connecting with others is core to mental and relational wellness. We are relational beings, after all. In this season, people have found some creative ways to connect with one another during this stay-at-home season. My niece Kristen was telling me a couple of weeks ago that she was hosting a virtual happy hour with her friends who were all in different cities. I found the idea so fascinating, I asked her to share some other awesome ideas on staying connected during what could be for some a very isolating time. In tomorrow’s blog, Kristen Cowart will share 10 Tips for Connecting with Family and Friends. Her tips are fun and meaningful!
So there you have it. Use these 4Ms to put your own mental well being plan together. They will help you mindfully move, and masterfully maintain meaningful connections!
Again, I want to give a special shout out to Dr. Sudeepta Varma, M.D for inspiring me with the 4 Ms of mental health!
Finally, here’s the WELL Women FB Live Video: