March 03, 2021

A Look Back on the Active Minds ‘Here to Stay.’ National Conference

Once again, JKBF was pleased to support the good work happening at the 3-day Active Minds National Conference, which took place in virtual form in February and was especially important in this time of the disruptions of the pandemic. This conference covered a wide of range of mental health topics and resources to #changetheconversation about mental health for young adults and students, as presented by Active Minds staff and an array of guest presenters.

In particular, the messages of two conference speakers resonated with JKBF’s mission centered on the mind-body connection of mental health and suicide prevention.

Kathleen Mackenzie presented ‘PUSH PAUSE: The Key to Staying Resilient During the Chaos of COVID-19’. Dr. Mackenzie highlighted the dynamics of stress, reminding us this is a normal and natural phenomenon. Creating balance between the activating sympathetic and calming parasympathetic nervous systems is what is essential. She reminded us of four important free, evidence-based strategies for keeping the mind fresh and resilient:

  • Most important is to establish a consistent sleep schedule to keep the body’s many clocks operating efficiently and reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance learning.
  • Connect with others to raise oxytocin and reduce cortisol and stress. Maximize hugs with those in your bubble, engage with pets, or find creative ways of gathering safely.
  • Expand your vision to keep brain pathways open. Be sure to step outside, look out a window, take your eyes and brain away from constant closeups and screens of Zoom meetings and cell phones.
  • Practice mindful breathing for a direct impact on the nervous system. Breathing in is alerting, breathing out is calming, so look up how to focus on or count your breath in order to stimulate a greater parasympathetic, calming response.

In ‘Self-Care & Recovery Amidst a Global Pandemic’ chaplain and musician Meg Hutchinson provided listeners with excellent ways to give your mind, body, and soul ways to heal in order to be resilient. She highlighted that compassion may be better than empathy to feel for others without depleting your own resources. Meg discussed the variety of ‘rests’ we need based on her interpretation of the book Sacred Rest: spiritual, mental (meditation, nature), social, creative, physical (sleep, diet, exercise), emotional, sensory, and Vagus nerve. Compassion for yourself is essential, and a reminder that stuck with us was that ‘recovery and resilience are a daily practice.’

We appreciate the work that Active Minds does to expand knowledge of what we can do to connect, care for each other and ourselves, and develop tools for increasing mental wellness and resilience in young people.  We hope you are taking deep breaths and finding ways to rest!