Mental Health Practices For Everyone

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When I was in eighth grade, my U.S. Civics teacher, Mr. Brewer, asked the following question one day: “What is the meaning of the word crisis?” I raised my hand immediately, which didn’t always happen in that class. Mr. Brewer walked towards my desk and said, “go ahead Mr. Cook.”

With confidence I replied, “A crisis is a potentially bad situation for which there is no plan…to handle it…the crisis I mean.”

He paused, as if stunned for a moment and then said, “That’s actually better than what I was going to say…impressive, Mr. Cook.” You can see why the moment lodged so firmly in my memory…I didn’t hear teachers say that much throughout my Jr. High or High School career.

Thinking of our current situation as a crisis with that “eighth grade Matty Cook” definition means that all we need to do is make a plan today– right now–and the crisis will be over. Being in crisis is hard and scary. Making a plan today–right now–will allow us to do what Pema Chödrön advisors in her wisdom teachings, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”

Making a plan does not mean that we are out of the woods, it simply means that we’re taking steps in that direction. Making a plan during this time of quarantine has to do with looking after our physical, emotional, social, and spiritual health. Setting up a schedule for ourselves and our family will allow us to avoid the Twilight Zone kind of days that make us feel so out of control.

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The following ideas are shared to offer some possible steps in your path toward moving from The Quarantine Zone to the here and now. Refusing to be a victim of circumstance by bravely taking the role of Voyager on the “River of Life” means that the crisis is over and you are now putting your oars back in the water. You never controlled the river, you just found Joy in navigating as best you could.

Make your plan, review your plan, and then act on your plan. Remember to make an unflinchingly honest assessment of your circumstances today, tomorrow, and every day. Find Joy where you can, and stay connected to your family and your tribe…THEY NEED YOU. Finally, take care of you. Remember that you are the Hero of your own story. Tell a story that you’ll be proud to share ages and ages hence.

Here are some steps and practices that will help guide your planning and preparation in the days ahead:

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Practices to Keep in Mind During Hard Times

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Matthew Cook
About Matthew Cook

Matty Cook has spent the last 27 years in the camping industry, 19 of those as a Camp Director and Executive Director. Matty started his professional camping career as the Camp Director at Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in CT, a position he held for 13 years. For the last four years Matty was the Executive Director at Teton Valley Ranch Camp in WY. Matty joined the team at Sanborn Western Camps in January of 2020 and is currently the Incoming Co-Director at Big Spring Ranch. Matty earned a B.S. in Psychology at Northern Arizona University, and a Masters in Social Work at Arizona State. He lists his favorite activities as backpacking (in Colorado and Utah especially), paddling anything on moving water, skiing, and cooking/baking over an open fire…anywhere. Matty is a certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor and has many years of experience in leading backcountry and adventure based programs. Matty and his family currently live in Victor, Idaho.