Tag Archives: stress

Go Outside and Play

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

When I was a child my mother use to say, nag, plead and shout Go outside and play. Now, all these many years later I spend time with my grandchildren who say, nag, plead and shout at me to go outside and play. Hmmm. Maybe somebody knows something I don’t.

In fact there is emerging research (our newest barometer for what is true or not) that being outside in nature improves our mood, lessens our anxiety and enhances our thinking and problem solving abilities.There is even more research touting the benefits than what is mentioned here. Do a Google search to find more if you want.

Whether it’s sitting on a beach, watching and breathing to the rhythm of the waves or sitting in a meadow, watching the breeze dance across the wheat field while blowing clouds along the sky, or dipping your bare feet into a bubbling brook, going outside and connecting with nature will  change you.

If you’re looking for solutions to help with feelings of anxiety, depression, unhappiness, anger or stress, go outside and play. This won’t take away your negative feelings all together. It will improve your physical and mental health. This shift in body, mind and spirit will help you handle these negative feelings more effective.

Turns out my mother and my grandchildren all know what they are talking about. I’m making a resolution to start a new habit. I will Go outside and play every day.

Life is love and love is life…

by Dr. Ken Larsen

Love and belonging is at the top of the list of our basic needs named by Dr. Glasser.  What we do to fulfill those needs is the essence of mental health and happiness.   Love is a word with many meanings.  I’d like to examine some of those meanings.

Anyone who has been to summer Bible camp has probably been exposed to the Greek words we have for “love”.  They are:

  • “Philos”.   This is brotherly love. Think of Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.
  • “Agape” is the selfless, unconditional love that is often used to describe God’s love for humanity.
  • “Eros” is the intimate affection between lovers.
  • “Storge” is a parent’s love for their children.

Each of these ways of expressing love are lifegiving and enriching of relationships.

We need an infusion of love to live and to enjoy life in health and happiness.


Love is poured into us from the very beginnings of our existence.  A mother looks on her baby with love while caring for her baby’s needs.   We are learning that this life giving, life enhancing connection between a mother and her baby is much more than just a “nice to have” expression of affection.  It is actually essential for the healthy development of the baby, especially  for their social and emotional development.  This connection goes both ways.  Both mother and baby enjoy a release of neurochemicals that support their mental health and happiness.

Sadly, there are some children who are deprived of this early enriching experience of love and care.  Many of these kids grow up and experience difficulties connecting socially.  Often there is limited ability  to self regulate difficult emotions.  This often leads to the self medication that leads to addictions.  Violence and unloving sex are behaviors often associated with people that have not had the early experience of love that is needed for mental health and happiness in a stressful world.

I am convinced that it is better to reach out a helping hand before we read another tragic headline born of the not so quiet desperation suffered by some of our people.

How can each of us make a deposit of love into the accounts of those whose emotional checks are bouncing?  There is no quick and easy answer, at least none that I know of, but I do know that it is better to reach out than to reject and ignore.  There is that wonderful tagline that it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

Elvis did a song entitled “Life” back in the 70s.  The closing line is “…for life is love and love is life.”

Here’s the song if you’re interested.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4cWkMXrGjo

What is your work life like?

By Dr. Nancy Buck

A recent radio program I listen to proclaimed that more people are unhappy at work than during any other part of their day, including being home sick and vomiting! Considering the amount of time most of us spend working, that means there is a lot of time that a lot of people are unhappy.

It didn’t take me much thought to return to my own work history. Early in my professional life I worked in a very stressful job as one of the front line people answering calls and dealing with folks who were experiencing mental health and emotional emergencies. One of the biggest stressors about this job was never knowing what each shift might bring. We might spend an entire shift completing crossword puzzles and catching up on paper work. Other shifts might include dealing with a person threatening suicide, or talking with a handcuffed person threatening violence brought in by the police. I didn’t hate my work. But I never got comfortable dealing with the potential dangers of the continuous unknown.

The first community mental health center where I worked happened to be located in an old grand home. Simply through ease of configuring office space, all of the emergency services staff occupied one large office space where we each had our own desk, phone, files, etc. There were a couple of private offices where we took clients for private interviews. The serendipitous advantage of this configuration was that we had colleagues to “return to”who could help us process our strategies as well as our own emotional upheaval in dealing with the last upset and upsetting client. And the rest of the staff working in the agency but not part of the emergency services team knew our large shared office space was the perfect place to take their breaks. They were always guaranteed other staff to “chat”with and to help them debrief and de-stress.

The hazard of being the place where everyone “hung out”was that we were also the dumping ground for complaints, upsets, and shedding of various staff members concerns and emotional turmoil.

Not only did we have to handle the stress of our expected clients in crises, we also were carrying the upset and burdens of our colleagues.

One day we of the emergency team decided we had had enough. It was time for us to take care of our own stress and begin more effective stress management and mental health care.

We instituted a rule that was posted clearly and in big letters so all could read as they entered:

You are welcomed to join us and will be invited to stay
as long as you . . .
State 3 positives you have experienced today


                        Tell us a really good joke.         

        Thank you for contributing to our good mental health today.
We hope to return the favor.

The results were awesome. At first people didn’t think we were serious. But when we told them we were. And we assured them we would invite them to leave if they could not fulfill one of the two criteria.

From then on things really started to change in our office. And the improvement was not only experienced by the emergency services team, but also by our “visitors.”

Some people took the joke idea as a challenge and would try and tell us a better joke this day than they had the day before. Some people told us they had to wait to enter until later in the day when they had finally experienced three positive things to share.

The biggest change was to the overall environment and tone in our office. People shared with us the positive, up beat and energizing aspects of their world and experiences. Each of us still faced the challenges and stress of our jobs, but we were able to create a work experience that contributed to our mental health and happiness. We asked for what we wanted and needed. And luckily we had good enough relations with our colleagues to get it.