The Many Dimensions of Wellness

The Many Dimensions Of Wellness

Episode Description

In today's episode of Mind Your Mind, your host Tim Unsinn talks with Dr. Wayne Martinsen. Dr. Martinsen, Medical Director and Psychiatric at Dakota Family Services, defines wellness as more than just the absence of disease, but as a state of well-being. In this episode he will share current wellness research, questions to ask to determine your own well-being, and steps you can take to achieve and maintain wellness.

What to Expect

  • Learn to think about wellness as more than just the absence of disease.
  • Discover surprising ways to improve your emotional well-being.
  • Understand the importance of exercise, sleep, and social connectedness.


Resources: Learn More

Wild 5 Wellness Kickstart (by Drs. Saundra and Rakesh Jain)

Greater Good Science Center (University of California Berkeley) 

The Science of Happiness Podcast

Things to Think About

  • Where do you find meaning and purpose in life?
  • How can you structure your life to contain those things that bring meaning?
  • Can you connect (in person, via text, or through video chat) with two people every day?
  • What can you do to improve your sleep?

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Transcript
The Many Dimensions of Wellness

Featuring Dr. Wayne Martinsen, Psychiatrist, Dakota Family Services

Tim Unsinn:

Welcome to Mind Your Mind, a podcast presented by Dakota Family Services, an outpatient behavioral health clinic located in Minot, Bismarck, and Fargo, North Dakota. In this podcast, I will talk with our experts about understanding and nurturing our mental health and wellness. I'm your host, Tim Unsinn. Join me each episode as we explore the intricacies of our minds, decrease the stigma of mental illness, learn practical tips for managing our mental health and well-being, and recognize when it's time to ask for help. Join me now to Mind Your Mind. Welcome to this episode of Mind Your Mind.

Tim Unsinn:

I'll be talking with Dr. Wayne Martinsen. Dr. Martinsen is the medical director and psychiatrist in Fargo and Minot. Dr. Martinsen diagnosis, psychiatric and behavioral health conditions, makes treatment recommendations, and provides medication management for clients of all ages, Dr. Martinsen, this is just a great opportunity to spend some time with you and to learn to learn today's topic is wellness. But before we get into today's topic, a question I ask all of our guests, why do you do what you do?

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

Actually, I never intended to spend my career in mental health. I was in college and got a job working at a group home in Minnesota, which paid the bills for me. I loved working at the group home, loved the adolescents got a degree in social work, got fascinated by psychotherapy, got a master's in social work, and then became fascinated with psychiatry and went back to medical school.

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

And so it was sort of the allure of the experience of working with people, and both sort of an enjoyment of people just because I like spending time with other human beings. The other piece is that I love the complexity of personality and mental health and trying to come up with solutions that match the person and the problem that's in front of me.

Tim Unsinn:

Oh, great answer. So now we'll jump right into wellness. Today's topic is wellness with wellness. I think of so many ways it's described today. How would you define wellness?

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

When I talk about wellness one of the things that I try to do is to harken back to the World Health Organization statement from 1948, where they defined wellness is more than just the absence of disease, but a state of well-being, a set of connections, the opportunity for learning having meaningful work. And so that was the original definition. And the concept is relevant in, in current medicine and psychiatry, because we tend to think of either disease or absence of disease and wellness really takes the concept beyond just the absence of disease and looks at how connected are you, how invigorating is your life, do you feel happy day to day? And by happiness, we're not just looking at whether or not there's a giddy joyfulness, but really whether life has meaning connection, purpose, and that you feel a sense of well-being. And a part of it has been looked at at least in our culture as if you don't have an illness, you have these other things, and it gets clear that in the research, that's not really true. And it also gets clear that there's a lot that can be done to create wellness if a person does not have it.

Tim Unsinn:

So as we look at the changing of wellness, has there been a change in wellness in our country over the last 20 years?

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

There really has. In the last 20 years in America, we've experienced what are called the deaths of despair. And when you look at that, it includes a 35% increase in deaths by suicide from 2000 to 2019. It includes a dramatic increase in drug addiction. It includes a lot of people who have simply dropped out of the workforce because of disillusionment. There's so much positive from our modern culture, but there are also pockets of people that are being left out of that experience. And for whom modern life is lonely and despairing and empty, and it lacks the purpose and connection that would keep them going in difficult times.

Tim Unsinn:

So how much of our well-being is within our control?

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

Well, earlier estimates suggested that that 50% of our happiness was genetically determined. Repeated research has indicated that only 10% of our happiness is controlled by our situation--what's happening in our life at this time. And 40% is controlled by how we live our lives. One of the things that I've done recently is I've been taking this course from university of California, Berkeley, who has a free course online. It's a semester course looking at happiness and how to create an increased level of happiness in your life. And they're saying that really, they see those old numbers as wrong. They feel like there's greater than 50% of how we live that creates our day-to-day well-being.

Tim Unsinn:

Our guest on Mind your Mind is Dr. Wayne Martinsen. Today we are talking about wellness. And then the next question that I have for you, I think about, you know, how can someone increase their wellbeing? And just, there are so many opportunities to do that in so many ways and opportunities for us all to really increase our wellbeing.

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

There's a lot of research since about 1995, there was a Dr. Martin Seligman who he wasn't the first person to come up with this concept, but he did a lot of research and he headed up the American psychological association and is regarded by a lot of people as the father of positive psychology. So there's, there's a lot of data. There's a lot of research that looks at what goes into well-being. And so I can just hit on some of those Tim, the ones that are the most researched and they include exercise. And usually when we think of exercise, we're thinking about, am I toned? Do I have the body of a 20, 30 year old?

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

Do I look good in a bathing suit is sort of the issue culturally, but that's not relevant for well-being. What's relevant for well-being for feeling rested, for feeling energized for treating depression and anxiety is exercise of about 30 minutes a day, four to five days per week. Now that exercise doesn't have to be all at one setting. The research is pretty clear that if you get five minutes of exercise, six times in a day, that counts. If you get a half hour of exercise that counts. And the type of exercise that is clearly the best in the research is whatever exercise that you're willing to keep doing. So if you dance intensely enough so that it causes you to have a slightly difficult time talking, carrying on a conversation, that counts. If you jog that counts. If you take a brisk walk or swim or any activity sports activities.

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

So it doesn't have to be one particular activity. Weightlifting used to be seen as less than in terms of mental well-being, but it is not. The recent research indicates that again, if you're lifting weights to the point that it's slightly difficult to talk, to carry on a conversation for 30 minutes in a day, that's exercise. That counts. And the exercise can be varied. So one day you could go dancing the next day. You could go for a brisk walk with your dog and other day you could lift weights. Another day you could play basketball with a friend. And so exercise period matters in terms of mood, in terms of anxiety, in terms of attention and concentration and sleep. The second thing that shows up very consistently is mindfulness. Thirty, forty years ago when I first had an interest in medication, you had to read a book and then hope that what you're doing matched up with what you're reading.

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

And today it's very different. There are a lot of there are some online approaches to medication that are free. There are other low-cost guided meditations, like with Headspace or calm, there are others that really help sort of focus the attention on the self or on the breath or on a loving emotion. And again, the dosage of that is about 20 minutes a day, four to five days per week. There's a movement beyond that, to just find ways to center yourself in the day, to sort of be mindful of where you're at, what you're feeling, what your relationships are, what your purpose is. That's harder to define, and it's harder to set parameters around. So when people talk to me about mindfulness unless they're experienced in that approach, I really like to talk to them about using one of those online apps that really walks them through meditation.

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

The next thing that's important is sleep. We tend to take sleep for granted. And one of the things that's happened in our culture is that people are getting less and less sleep as technology advances. And a part of that is work. But a big part of it is our screen time. You know, not just television, but interactive games, binge-watching series is a big deal. And what happens is not only does the screen entertain us in the moment, making it hard for people to want to go to bed, but the bluish light that comes off of screens makes it really hard for the brain to be asleep and to fall asleep. The recommendations are that screens go off, or at the very least are switched to a blue filter an hour and a half before bed time. And that overall use of screens is decreased, that we monitor caffeine use before bedtime, we don't exercise real close to bedtime, and that we try to engage,uin quieter activities, say reading a book, not the news, which a lot of people find upsetting, but a book or something informational. That sleep should be protected. That we really should leave eight hours, seven or eight hours of time every night for sleep.

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

The next thing is social connectedness. People who are lonely not only have higher rates of depression and anxiety, they die at a younger age, there are cardiac implications of loneliness. There are also significant increases in dementia rates for people who are lonely. And again, what seems to happen is people describe themselves as more lonely now than they did 20 years ago. And it's hard to know how much of it is related to lifestyle and to culture, but people get entertained by their video games, by the series they're binge watching, and there's less purposeful connection.

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

So when you look at programs like Rakesh and Saundra Jain's Hero Wellness program, they're really looking at how do you protect connectedness? How do you stay in touch with people? And one of their prescriptions is that you call two people, either have conversations face-to-face, or call two people who are just friends every day. And, you know, we've gotten to the point where it seems almost rude in this day and age to call somebody up on the telephone denovo, right? It's, it's intrusive. But it's pretty easy to just text somebody and say, you know, I've been thinking about you. It's been a long time since we talked and I miss you, would it be okay if we called, if I called and I've never had anybody when I've done that say, no, we can't do that. And even better approach in my mind that has really deepened the experience for me in the middle of this COVID pandemic has been the use of zoom or other tele -chat formats.

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

There are probably easily a dozen of them that are free. The same thing occurs. You know, you can take your laptop outside, follow up or connect with somebody, a friend you haven't seen, but it allows us to connect over distances. And another part of what's happened to our culture is that we've become much more mobile. People in America move to follow a job. Now, maybe that's the right thing to do for that family, but it really interrupts relationships, friendships, family connection, and all of those things matter. Another part of the relationship piece that clearly matters in the research is holding a grudge or having bitterness. Bad things happen to people in life, sometimes really horrible things. And if we hang onto that bitterness or that resentment, that has cardiac implications, again. It has implications for depression and anxiety.

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

And again, it has implications for increased rates of dementia as we get older. And again and again in the literature, what you find is whatever promotes cardiac health promotes brain health, whatever promotes brain health seems to promote cardiac health. The other things that we know improve well-being are things like gratefulness. There's a very simple, there's a very simple intervention of being grateful for three things, talking with a partner or writing down three things that you're grateful for at the end of each day, that occurred in that day. It's an extremely simple intervention. And yet the level of happiness increases significantly when people do that. And there's two parts to that. One is that it makes us aware of people that we care about that made our life better, right? Which increases our well-being. But over time it increases our focus. We're looking for in the world around us in our day-to-day experience, we're looking for the people or we're more aware of the people who have made our lives better.

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

And that can be that can be a spouse, or it can be a family member. It can be a coworker. It can be somebody that we've served. Another piece that is vital for well-being is a sense of meaning or a sense of purpose. And we find that in different places, Tim. So some people will find it in their spirituality and their relationship with God. Some people will find it within their work, or within a relationship, or in an artistic outlet. There is some people who are in the sandwich generation and they're terribly stressed by the obligations of both their children and their elderly parents. There are other people for whom that connection, even when it's stressful, has a lot of meaning, a lot of purpose. And so there are any number of things that we can do to promote wellness. When you look at the people putting together the happiness course at UC Berkeley, what they talk about is sort of an appetite or a diet in the same way that we pick foods, even when we try to eat nutritiously, which also has an impact on well-being,

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

But even when we try to eat nutritiously, there are certain foods that we prefer some things that taste good or that feel right to us. So there are some people who can't stand meditation. So don't torture yourself. Your well-being is not going to be found there, right? There are some people who really are more comfortable being alone, not connecting with people. There are people who physically can't exercise. So you look at sort of the smorgasbord of well-being options and you select those that are the best fit for who you are in the life that you lead.

Tim Unsinn:

You know you said something about exercise. And I think I'm going to credit myself with the walk to the car each day, and I'm going to count the minutes and I'm going to add that up. That should count. Right? Well, only

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

If it's a brisk walk, Tim. It has to be fast enough so that you couldn't easily carry on a conversation.

Tim Unsinn:

Well, it is winter where we live about 10 months of the year. So it is a brisk walk, usually. You are listening to Mind your Mind. Our guest is Dr. Wayne Martinsen. And before we wrap up our conversation about wellness, there's always that last question I'm going to ask our guests. And that is what do you do personally, to Mind your Mind?

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

Actually, I had some tragic occurrences a number of years ago with an unexpected death of one of my daughters. And it left me really needing to find a way to get past the hurt, the depression, the bitterness that came with that. And so to begin with, it's like, as anybody who's struggling should, I went and saw my doctor to get medication.

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

I went and saw a psychologist to get therapy. I also over time, the hurt of that lingers for people who have lost a child. And it's like, you have to find a way to put a life back together again. And so with time, I have really doubled down on, I do brisk walks. I make my dog come with me. I really try to protect my sleep. I meditate every day. I eat a largely, it's not a religious thing, but I eat a largely fresh fruits and vegetable diet because it's better for me. I make an effort to connect multiple times per week by phone or by zoom with friends. So it's, it's something that I really work at on a day-to-day basis. And for me, it has made a huge difference. To the point that I've incorporated more and more of it in my practice as time has gone on over the last few years.

Tim Unsinn:

It seems that the biggest theme is what I'm hearing in wellness or what you're sharing with us about wellness is, you know, creating habits that are going to help your wellness. There's so much information today. There's so many opportunities. I really appreciate your time with us on this episode of Mind your Mind. I love podcasts. We can always push, pause, digest what we just heard. Rewind. Listen again, podcast are shareable. So again, thank you for your time. We appreciate it.

Dr. Wayne Martinsen:

Thank you, Tim.

Tim Unsinn:

Thank you for joining us for Mind Your Mind, a podcast presented by Dakota Family Services. You can't have health without behavioral health. Remember to mind your mind. For more information, links to additional resources, contact information, and much more go to Dakota, family services.org.

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