Peace of mind formula
You know what M & M’s are…and you’ve probably used a 3M product. How about the 4M’s formula for pandemic stress relief? During recent segments on the Today Show and MSNBC, psychiatrist Sue Varma presented a 15-minute mental health habit designed to motivate and energize caregivers with the practice of mindfulness, meaningful engagement, mastering and movement.
Right now, we’re all caregivers—to ourselves and for our families. We’re also keeping an eye on neighbors, friends, and coworkers albeit at a distance. The stress of constantly checking in on everyone and taking extra precautions with every detail of our lives can turn even the most organized person into someone who just wants to zone out.
Varma offers these tips for each of the 4M’s. The first is mindfulness which by simple definition is described as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. She suggests using an app such as Headspace to take a “mindfulness” break or any activity with a single focus—listening to the birds or studying the clouds.
Scheduling meaningful interaction with others is essential for maintaining balanced mental health. Meeting up on Zoom has become the online “go to” along with Facetime, Skype, or WhatsApp. Seeing someone feels more personal. Even if it’s just a quick call, the time spent is well worth it. It’s also important to take time out for yourself to improve a hobby or learn something new like face painting. With the ease of YouTube or an educational platform, just about anything can be learned in the comfort of your own home. Imagine the satisfaction of feeling a “sense of mastery” during your sheltering experience.
Way before we had ever heard of COVID-19, the media told us that we had to get moving more. Fit Bits came out of the woodwork and onto the wrists to help folks monitor their daily steps because researchers told us what would happen if we sat too much. Anything that gets you up and moving works. It doesn’t have to be strenuous—stretching, tai chi, qigong or yoga all count as much as hiking, dancing, or working out.
With regular practice of the 4M’s, Varma said your results will add up to the 4R’s—regeneration, rejuvenation, recuperation, and restoration. Think that’s a formula worth following and sharing with family and friends. That way you can periodically check in with each other and give out the gold stars for achievements big or small. Here’s to your health everyone.
Originally published, Orange County Register, May 14, 2020