I am currently reading a newly published book called “The Mysterious Mind” written by an acquaintance who is a Neurologist and has incorporated Ayurvedic medicine into her practice. I’m enjoying the book so much because it’s very well written and it supports what I’ve been doing in my Psychiatric Nurse Practioner practice for years. Wellness is not just about feeling better when you’re struggling. Wellness if about feeling vibrant, strong, motivated, and useful.
When you have a negative event in your life, it’s normal to feel just the opposite, but that should be a temporary condition. Many of the people I see are hesitant about taking medications. This is because things like “depression” are hard to measure. I was fascinated that one lady who went to a doctor for botox treatment was given a screening tool for depression. Nothing about her appearance or functioning appeared depressed. So since it was hard to figure out what exactly the problem was, I gave her a more advanced and validated screening tool easily available online called the Becks Depression Inventory or BDI. And indeed she scored as significantly depressed. A person whose brain is depressed, or not producing the normal amount of serotonin, might have always felt that way and not even be aware that they’re depressed. It can be hard to know if that’s the way you’ve always felt. At present, we don’t have the same kinds of methods to “test” for conditions as other forms of medicine, which makes some people wrongfully conclude that these conditions don’t exist. Yet, if you’re the one living with them, you know that they most certainly do! And that’s not living in wellness.
When you’re living in wellness, your mind as well as your physical health are part of your everyday focus. You value this gift of life, others want to be with you. You find ways to rebound from life’s disappointments, such as savoring the company of those who ask to spend time with you. You savor nature. You spend time doing activities that enhance your own and other’s lives. You do what you can to support your physical health as much as possible and to the point where you are able. You create things, such as by planting, making someone cookies or a pie, or you help other people create things. You reach out to others in need. You give, and you accept gifts gratefully. You feel worthy. You accept responsibility for your behavior. You have integrity and you keep your word to yourself and others. Maybe every day you don’t succeed on this mission, but you make your best effort to do so.
So the botox lady I spoke of? Everything else in her life is in order, it should be an easy fix to find a medication she can tolerate and respond to, and she is a person who will need to stay on medication all her life, just like someone with high cholesterol or diabetes. But many other much harder patients come to see me, expecting a medication to fix everything in their lives. And there’s no such miracle pill. If I had one, I’d be soooo rich, but that would take away the pleasure you get when you take the time to stop and start making changes in your life! Nothing we get too easily is valued. I always ask the people who really want to change their lives to pick just one area to start making changes in. If we try to do too much too fast, we can’t maintain any changes we make. That’s why people can set the same “resolutions” every day or every year and never make any progress. Progress is made by choosing one goal you want to set in your life and breaking it down into very teeny tiny steps. Then being mindful, when you’re making choices, you have to ask yourself, does this choice get me closer or farther from this step? Take some time to write down on paper some possible small steps you could take to a long term goal. Put one step on each month of your calendar to remind you of that goal.
Your goal could be a simple and easy as you want it to be, but it’s the first step in creating self esteem because it’s you keeping your promise to yourself. If all those goals are met, what other things could improve your life quality? How could you reach out to others more? Could you eat more wisely, or more compassionately? Could you do some volunteer work with someone who could benefit from your unique gifts? Could you say hello to a stranger? Could you spare something to give to someone in need?
Recently in yoga class, we were asked to visualize someone we valued and were grateful for, some thing we were grateful for, and some bodily characteristic we were grateful for. So I will share my “thing” because it’s funny. I am grateful for toilets! On my way to yoga class that morning, I had been listening to the BBC news. They had covered their goal set in 2000 about improving the quality of life and education in Bangladesh, and they were discussing the progress that had been made. On the plus side, little girls were now getting education. On the negative side, they were often married off in their early teens because their families couldn’t afford to feed them. It talked about their lifestyles, and I realized how amazingly lucky, no matter what else we deal with, we are to have things like electricity, running water, and flush toilets! What incredible luxury we live in, and how grateful are we for this luxury because we were lucky enough to be born into these countries where internets and computers and smart phones are so common? We have so incredibly much to be grateful for, and being aware of that, makes each day so much more precious. If we truly count our blessings most days, the amount of riches we live with every day is truly amazing, and if we live our days from this perspective, it promotes our wellness.
May your days be filled with appreciation, love, the beauty of nature and the love of humans and animals.