By Carlene Mcnair for Boston Compass (#127)
September 30, 2020
What are some activities that are meaningful to you?
Although the question was clear and simple, the answer was foggy and difficult to find. She thought long and hard…
What do I like to do? What brings me joy, healing, and restoration?
At one point in time it was the upbeat music that she danced to, the pages of a book she wrapped her mind in, and her career that gave her purpose. Now, the upbeat music sounded more like a whisper hushing her lively movements. Her mind spent very little time with the pages of a book; reading became unfamiliar. The career that gave her purpose became a dreary routine; she felt like she was surviving but not living. She never stopped to think about the activities that were meaningful to her. She never really thought it mattered anyway… After all, she was a mother now. Her priorities changed, her schedule changed, her life changed.
Find Meaning It’s not uncommon for mothers to feel this way. After having children priorities change. Time feels like it’s no longer ours. It's easy for us to forget who we were and what we enjoyed doing before giving birth. I want to talk about my understanding of meaningful activities and how they can improve our mental health. If you have questions or concerns, I encourage you to seek advice from a mental health professional or any other qualified professional. Also, please understand what works for someone may not work for you. What if I told you that meaningful activities can actually improve our mental health? Would you make changes to your daily routine? Would you make the effort to dedicate your time and commit yourself to the activities that are meaningful to you?
What are Meaningful Activities? Meaningful activities are not activities that are used to just occupy our time or fill the space on our calendar. The key to getting the full benefit from the chosen activity is to understand its purpose. Ask yourself, what is the purpose of this activity? Why am I doing it? What do I hope to get out of this? Meaningful activities can include (but are not limited to) social and physical activities, as well as hobbies. One important thing to note is, a meaningful activity can differ based on the person. We should tailor it to our own needs, desires, and interests.
So, It Can Improve Our Mental Health? Yes, I believe it can! Social isolation can negatively affect our minds and our mental health. Extreme social isolation can impact our mood and our ability to cope with stressful situations. However, social activities can decrease loneliness, improve interpersonal skills, and improve our mood! Research has shown that physical activity can also improve mental health by reducing mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. It can also improve our mood, self esteem and cognitive function. Some other benefits of physical activities are: improved sleep (which can improve our mental alertness), and weight release. Hobbies are a wide range of activities that bring about joy and relaxation. Hobbies can include painting, drawing, gardening, singing, dancing, baking etc. The list goes on and on! By doing what we love we are giving ourselves an outlet to release stress, unwind, feel happier, and relaxed. I want to encourage you amazing mothers out there to explore some activities that are meaningful to you. Remember, tailor them to your own interests, needs, and desires, pay attention to how they make you feel, and dedicate your time to these activities. I will do the same. After all, we are in this together!
—Carlene McNair aka CHOSEN.