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Q&A with mental health activist Marlise Karlin

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Marlise Karlin (photo courtesy of Karlin)

Whether it’s COVID-19, injustice, financial instability or something else in the long list of issues people face today, the mental health of many people is in poor shape. As therapy and other forms of help transition online, mental health activist Marlise Karlin, the mind behind the SOS Method app, designed the virtual program to help people find calm in stressful times. 

The Daily Wildcat sat down with Karlin to learn more about managing stressful situations, meditation and more.

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Marlise Karlin: I recognize the feeling of uncertainty and stress that people are going through today because of my own experience with it as a young person. My father was very abusive, so I ran away from home at 16. So, at 16, you're not really prepared for how to take care of yourself financially, for feeling like you're not loved, so it hurts your self worth all those different things that begin to happen were happening for me. 

And what it demonstrated is it affected my body so much that doctors wanted to give me operations. So what all of you young people today and all ages actually don't fully understand is that the stress you feel every day, which comes from uncertainty and isolation, is act is actually affecting you on a long lasting level. It's not just about "Oh, right, okay, I'm gonna get rid of it and tomorrow, I'm gonna be happy again." It's already affecting your body. Because every thought you think and how that is and if it goes on sits in the cells of your body, right? It's a traumatic memory in a sense. That begins affecting how you perceive life in the future because now you're a little bit afraid to do this. Now you're a little bit concerned about that. 

You know, imagine how it is with the guys that go to war and come back. They're deeply affected, aren't they? So, I think we don't even understand how much this affects us, and how important it is to begin connecting to the power you already have, because you have remarkable powers. I like to call it superpowers right now because it just makes it simple enough for everybody to get it. 

But what I discovered in my own work after studying with meditation masters and holistic experts and scientists is that we have this untapped mind and body intelligence. And once it is ignited or activated, it's amazing how much it shifts our perception of life and how much more courage reveals how much more empowered we feel, how much more in touch with our body we are and then the body can begin doing what it naturally does to keep us in well being.

Would you like to have a tip that would be able to help everybody right off the bat?

DW: Yes, yes.

MK: This is one tool that I think you will find really, really helpful. It’s called stop, drop and roll; normally we think of that with a fire. 

Now imagine there’s a fire going on in your body and in your brain. Ah, right. So stop, drop and roll is really good for getting rid of excess negative energy. When you're feeling that negative energy taking over, do you know what I'm talking about that sensation of negative energy that happens where your stomach is churning and your head feels like it's going to explode. Okay? 

So, when you say the words, stop, drop and roll, it reminds you of what to do. What it means is stop the moment you realize something is going on, something that you're doing isn't worried anything like that. Stop what you're doing in the moment. So you can drop it, whatever it is you're angry about. It doesn't [mean you] have to give it up, but you want to drop it for the moment. And then you can roll with a new idea. Okay, so there are four different ways that you can drop it. Okay? 

So, let's start with one. One is dance it out. So what is your body when your body is all freaking out like that, you have to be able to do something energetically to move that body, to move that energy out of your body. So dance it out, turn on some great music, bands, dances wild and crazy as you possibly can, right? Okay. So dance it out, get in water, which you could get in water either in a tub or shower or pool, because it deactivates that excessive energy. You just feel It just calms you, everything just starts to calm down. Okay? 

Then you could also sing it out, sing at the top of your lungs. And if you're surrounded with people get [to another place] and sing, do whatever you need to because what happens as you begin doing that, you're getting that energy out, it'll actually get to a place where you you almost feel like crying or laughing because it starts to move that negative energy out of the body, right? And then you can also go for a walk or run. That's very helpful to it's another way you're still getting that energy out. 

So after you do that, now the body has calmed down a bit, then listen to an SOS meditation, so that you connect to your superpowers. Because that's where you'll get the inspiration of what to do about whatever it is that's challenging you. You see what I'm saying? The first thing is you're letting out that negative excess energy. The next one is you're opening to that intelligence that you have, that mind body intelligence that you have, to give you the inspiration of what to do next.

DW: How do you balance heavy life concerns with self-care?

MK: I think what you'll find is that our daily life is something that happens day to day to day, every single day. It's how am I going to balance it? But a lot of it has to do with how are you feeling right now? Because if you're feeling passionate about your future, if you're feeling passionate about what you're up to, it's not so difficult because even when you're working, you're feeling good. You're feeling excited, and I would suggest that a lot of young people today are very concerned about their future. 

So, utilizing the tools that help you set intentions, that help you find stress relief in moments, that help you pivot toward the kind of success you want to have for you in your life is extremely important. So, look for the tools that will support you throughout your whole life. 

Because there are tools like that today, you don't have to run and read a 50 page book to get a tool. Do you know what I'm saying? You can have tools that you use again and again and again. And really you should understand about consistency, right, and repetition. Because if we exercise once at the gym a month, how good will your body be? Not that great. So, finding a meditation technique that works for you, so that you do it consistently. You'll be blown away, along the way, by the changes it makes.

Therapy and mental help can be a couple clicks away. SOS Method is available on Google Play and the App Store. If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 



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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (11/25)
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Total (8/4)
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Includes tests since August 4, 2020
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated November 25, 2020