Turn to the creative arts, music, painting, creating something useful with skills like knitting or crochet or woodwork. The action of creation brings back a sense of being ok.
As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Professor Margaret Rogers Van Coops AKA Dr. Margaret.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I was born very psychic and aware since WWII was in full force. Twice I was nearly killed by a VI bomb at birth and a second VII bomb when I was three years old. I was very aware of the negativity of the world and was in many ways set up to do the work I do now. As a result of my training in nursing, I moved over to Psychology and Psychiatry while seeking deep answers to why people were appearing to be mad or suicidal. In those days, the understanding of the mind was often misinterpreted, and the brain was definitely unprepared for the hauntings of the dead after the world war ended. The result in those days was to ignore one’s mental state, by pretending you were ok. In research, I investigated many people who were not only suicidal and afraid, but also terribly afraid of ghosts. This caused me to truly investigate the mental and emotional states of my patients.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
At sixteen, I was an assistant nurse in training in a hospital full of war casualties and elderly people who were eaten up with bitterness and arthritic rheumatism. The atmosphere was thick with hatred. But there was one woman who bonded with me. She had been a Matron of a big teaching hospital and was wounded in her spine which meant that she was unable to move her body from the neck down, though she could breathe well. My job was to bathe her, dress her and feed her. Since I spent so much time with her each day, I was taught by her, which led me to continue my career not just as a nurse, but as a healer. She guided me in the ways of the time to listen and learn and yet decide for myself what was appropriate for me to do. Still today, I question my motives, actions, deeds and words. When I had finally learned the lessons, she taught me, I came in with flowers to thank her that day. She was not in her bed. She had passed into the light that night. I still see her in that bed even today. She gave me purpose in a time when no one else did.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
A lot has changed since 1960. Today, the old ideas about the states of people’s mental behaviors have been documented in a variety of new ways. For example, none of the women were allowed to fight, yet they were expected to make bullets, bombs etc. in factories and later still to be bossed around my doctors, bosses, law officers, no matter how clever they were. Being a woman in those days was hard. I think it is important for young women today to realize just how much psychological suffering was forced upon women. Today woman have the freedom to be anything, even be Presidents, Queens and Professors! With the rise of women in their professions, an equality between genders is vital to the transformations we must make if this world is to improve not only our way of life styles, but also in the way men and women relate to one another, whether at work or at home. There are still far too many countries that ill-treat women, even kill them over lust! I think it is time we all realize that we have all been ill-treated and must realize that kindness is vital to the human race’s survival.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
I think we need to begin teaching young children kindness, love, joy and above all else, constant support, praise and good education. Too many children are disrespectful to their elders. My years of training in coaching and counseling have shown me that the price of freedom from the domination of men has caused everyone to throw out the rules. We see groups of gangs controlling the weak. We see fear and anxiety, stress and depression everywhere. I truly think, we need to find the finer ways of interacting with respect, honor, truth and the spirit of adventure to increase one’s way of working and assisting others by contributing our skills and talents. In this way, we become supporters and liked for our own works given in kindness. My constant advice to any one is always listen, get the full story, and only then respond, not in judgment, but in a helpful supportive way that will stimulate others to expand their own consciousness to become more than they have ever dreamed. We can all step up to the post and do our bit to make this world inhabitable for all.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each?
In my own life, I was diagnosed at 35 to have Parkinson’s disease. I was a psychological mess, having absorbed the negativity of all my experiences, fighting rules and regulations that seemed to have no purpose beyond testing my will. I not only had the shakes throughout my body and neck, but on two occasions, was completely locked and could not move. That was my “Hit over the head with a hammer” moment when I realize I did not want to spend my life living like my grandmother. The results of falling so far into pain, fear, anger, guilt and loss was beyond words to describe. It took me from a ‘flake — fearful or failure’ to become a pioneer for seeking the inner truth of each person I met. I grew stronger in my will to overcome this dreadful disease. I have been PD free for over 35 years.
The steps I took were:
1. Mentally and emotionally to stop feeling trapped and sorry for myself. To do this, I used my time to work on my body to improve my nervous system, along with toning up my muscles. This mental state of change forced me to see things differently. I transformed my cellular-neuro-muscular-memory from bad to good.
2. Turn to the creative arts, music, painting, creating something useful with skills like knitting or crochet. For a man some simple woodwork or repairs that need to be made. In both cases, the action of creation brings back a sense of being ok. Creativity comes from the Soul and The Oneness
3. Watch movies that are family or work oriented, to see different points of view that awaken a desire to find those aspects of awareness that were mostly hidden by habits absorbed from the RNA of family and those you have interacted with. The more we copy, the less we are truly our real self!
4. Walking, skipping, jumping, Zumba for example, will reprogram the muscles and nervous of the body to stimulate the mind to focus on self and enjoy self. I did lots of dancing and workouts and loved riding my bike.
5. Spending time in appreciation of all aspects of life is vital to the mind.
Much of my expertise focuses on helping people to plan for after retirement. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In addition to the ideas you mentioned earlier, are there things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.
Any change at any age in life is always traumatic, even if you are excited and driven to succeed. The long awaited retirement idea was only conducive to the rich and famous. The common people of most countries are unable to retire, usually assisting the younger ones to learn by their experiences how they share as the inbuilt teacher in each of us emerges. In our current times, the death age is later than in the past, so we have more time to savor life. Personally, I do not want to retire and vegetate on my past. I want to keep learning and will until I pass. Likewise I am active and never now consider fear of failing etc. Those who fear old age, grow old and fall. The mind is able to reconstruct the body, if you think young, you will stay young, so retirement is out of the question for me.
How about teens and pre teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre teens to optimize their mental wellness?
This is an intense and needed question. Unfortunately there is no absolute answer. Each child is born with the DNA of ancestors going back centuries! The habits of ways and means have changed, but the theme of learning from history is still uppermost in our minds. Children today need to understand where they came from, what they did in history and be educated to appraise any happenings in the past as lessons that one must now move on from. Religion plays it part in bringing stability into a home, but if the basic issues of peace of mind and heart are lost, then the home is a place of terror. Too long, we have fought to live. Families are rarely in harmony these days. Now is a time to teach the young ones to enjoy their talents and skills; nurture them, even when they fail. Parents should understand they are different inside emotionally from anyone else. A lesson that can be learned is then mastered and moved away from with no need to repeat a negative event.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
I was often drawn to anything psychic when I was young. A book called “The Third Eye” written by Lobsang Rampa helped me to see my life more clearly. Young boys were taken from their homes according to their natal horoscope, to be monks. They were made to stand still in the rain and cold for hours. The Ones who were left standing were chosen. That visual idea set me on a pathway to always treat my children with love and good communications in our dialogues. Too often, parents just shrug or yell, then walk away. Whenever I had to be really strict with my kids, after my lecture, I would retire to my bedroom and cry, because I knew I had been harsh for their own good. Later, I learned that children need to know the pain they cause parents and take responsibility for their actions.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
My first person I truly admired was Sir Winston Churchill who said his famous speech “We will fight on the beaches…” To me in my mind, that was “I will fight to teach everyone that they have a spirit that has been encoded with a purpose for life and to live it to the fullest no matter how hard the task may seem. You can win! I hope I am seen as a living proof of that idea. I never give up!
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
Thank you once again for inviting me to share some things I know that will help the readers to see a new dynamic about their own life and the lives of others that have crossed their path.
Thank you for all of these great insights!
About the author:
Beau Henderson, editor of Rich Retirement Letter and CEO of RichLife Advisors LLC, is a best-selling author, national tv/radio resource, and retirement coach/advisor, with over 17 years’ experience. Beau is a pioneer in the strategy based new model of holistic retirement planning. He can be followed on Facebook here or on Instagram here