Sunday, September 30, 2012

Didn't You Get the Memo?

A lot of what you learn as a psych patient to manage your illness can be applied to everyone. We all go through periods of sadness, worry, anxiety, anger, despair, agitation – yet most of us are not taught techniques to navigate through these tough times.

Because psychiatric patients have to deal with super-sized versions of tough times, they are given exercises and tools to help cope. But these tools are useful for everyone, and if they were made more widely available would lead to less stress and more happiness.

Why shouldn’t mindfulness, meditation, dialectic behaviour therapy, and cognitive behaviour therapy be included in the physical education curriculum in high school? The teenage years are when most mental illnesses begin to manifest themselves. Why not give teens some tools to stay mentally healthy and happy? It wouldn’t even take much time – say eight to twelve hours over two or three years. A small investment with a big payoff.

Why should this be in physical education? Anima Sana In Corpore Sano (“A sound mind in a sound body”). Okay, it’s Latin, and I stole that from the shoe company Asics (it’s the brand of jogging shoe I wear). But it’s a great slogan, isn’t it? You can’t have a healthy body without a healthy mind.

Here are two techniques I learned today that I think could help anyone.

Write a note to yourself when you are happy. Say something about how happy you are, how sadness will pass, and how you can feel happy again. When you feel really bad, pull it out – it’s a memo from your past to the present, and it will help you feel a little better.

Make a list of all of the things that are true about yourself, even if you don’t believe them. This includes things others have said to you. Things like “I am smart,” or “People like me.” When your self-esteem hits bottom, pull that list out and read it out loud to yourself.

I cannot thank enough everyone who has taught me this year. I have a long way to go. Not every technique I learn is useful for me, but will be useful for someone else.

One very important thing I have gained is an understanding of the need for routine in my life. I am looking at the clock – it is bedtime.

Thanks for reading. See you in the morning. J


Dana said...

I've been finding the moodscope thingy online quite interesting. Mapping my mood works better than anti-depressants for me right now. Helps me keep on top of my feelings. Thanks for the suggestion!

D'Arcy said...

It is interesting, isn't it! Another person I know who runs a home-based business is using it to predict periods of higher productivity, so he can take days off when he knows that he won't be productive anyways. I like being able to predict my moods, somewhat, too - before I was on medication, moodscope revealed my swings were like clockwork. So it was easy to know when bad days were coming up.