Let’s think about your mental health today. To do this, I am going to remind you about mindfulness.
This is the right time to remind everyone – especially parents and youth heading back to school – that we all need to take the time to look after ourselves. I do not go out much, but in the last week, when ever I am out, I see you, rushing through stores, with lists. You look tired and stressed. When I see you, I just want to remind you to slow down. I just want to say, “Be mindful of these last beautiful days of summer and make sure you enjoy the warmth. Eat out on a patio or in your back yard. Go for a picnic.”
Every Sunday for the past four weeks, it has rained where I live, cheating me of an afternoon spent reading outside. The back deck where I would read during this germ-filled summer is shaded by a sunburst locust. It is a spiny tree, now almost thirty-five years old.
Its branches are dark against the sky as I look up, the lozenge-sized, ovoid leaves yellow green. The canopy is full enough that it is cool under the tree on hot days and dappled when the wind blows. From the chair I use in the afternoon, I can watch the street. In the mornings, I see my small vegetable garden. This is my summer mindful place.
When I need a place to pull me out of my worries, this is where I go, from the moment the lawn furniture is brought out in spring until late into the autumn. Like Yeats’ Innisfree, “peace comes dropping slow” here. Without this place, it is harder to push my worries to the side and be present in my mind.
Now it is your turn.
Stop what you are doing. Sit down. Whatever your grand plan, put it to the side and think about your grand life. Are you somewhere that you can breathe freely, not worried about school supplies or lunches or dentist appointments? Do you feel peace dropping around you? Can you walk to the place where it is strongest?
If not, you must just sink into a comfortable chair and review in your mind all the comfortable places you love. Can you get there every day? Some people have a cottage or place in the country that fulfills this role for them. The problem with this is that it is not available when you are at home. In the middle of a stressful work week, or a stressful period, we need to be able to find peace. We cannot always wait for the weekend.
Every day, to preserve your own mental health, you need a place of your own where “peace comes dropping slow”.
Remember mindfulness and how good it is for your mental health.
Look after yourself and stay safe.
(Photo credit: This photo is taken from the website of the New York Creative Arts Therapists. They have an interesting website and lots of information for those who might wonder how art can be used as a mindful activity. If you have been thinking about taking up art as a way of improving your mental health, you’ll be encouraged by the finding that 75% of participants in a project making art lowered their cortisol levels in the 45 minutes during which they were creating some art.)