Dr. Wayne Martinsen, Psychiatrist and Medical Director at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, recently gave a lecture on Mental Wellness for Ranch employees. We learned how he approaches therapy for our residents, and also caught some great tips we can implement in our own lives.
One study he cited, (Seligman, Steen, Park & Peterson 2005), analyzed the long-lasting effects of positive thoughts. After doing a baseline study of the participants’ well-being, they asked them to write three good things a day for a week. Researchers monitored their well-being after one, three, and six months. At each interval, even six months later, study participants experienced an increase in happiness and a decrease in depression. The simple act of writing down positive thoughts for ONE week had a long-lasting positive impact on their well-being.
Identifying and noticing the good things that happen in their lives does not come easy for Ranch children. Dr. Martinsen says most of our kids were not raised in an environment of gratitude. When he asks them, “Did anyone help you this week?” or “Did anything good happen this week?” they can’t think of anything—even though they may have just gone home on pass, or one of their caregivers took them on a special outing.
Dr. Martinsen shared several tools you can use to improve mental wellness and well-being. Pick one and give it a try!
1. Meditation–Including Mindfulness.
Mindfulness and meditation allows you to experience yourself or part of your world without judgement. It can literally re-wire the brain, decrease stress and increase immune function.
2. Find Something to Look Forward to.
Something as simple as thinking about a favorite movie can increase endorphins by 27%.
3. Conscious Acts of Kindness.
Small efforts count--give compliments and focus on others’ strengths. Giving to friends and strangers alike decreases stress and increases mental health.
3. Watch less TV.
People who watch less TV are more accurate judges of real life risks and rewards. It leaves more time for the outdoors. Going outside on a nice day for 20 minutes boosts mood and improves working memory.
45 minutes three times per week provides the same benefits as antidepressant treatment.
5. Spend money on experiences with loved ones rather than stuff.
We are so blessed to have such a talented child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Ranch. He is dedicated to going above and beyond for our kids, and understands that there is so much more to healing than finding the right medication.
Dr. Martinsen is just one example of how everyone at the Ranch sees each child as a unique and beautiful human being, and helps them become their best selves.
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