Dan Wieden was a marketing genius who helped to shape many institutional companies from Old Spice to Procter and Gamble, and even Coca-Cola. What some might call his biggest claim to fame, came in 1988 with the slogan “Just Do it,” for Nike. While The Wellness Center has been boasting its tagline, “the meeting place for fun, health, and fitness,” for 42 years, Nike has also kept their slogan going, and why? Because it’s true, it’s clear and it works! However, do you know what word in “JUST DO IT!” is the most important? Just! To “just,” do it, you immediately go into action. “Just,” is a prompt, reminding us of all the times we “just” need to do the things we need to do. To move past the excuses, self-doubt, procrastination, and “just do it!”

Flash forward 36 years, we’ve fallen away from “just,” doing anything. We will “just,” put it on a list or “just,” say maybe, but how often do we “just do it?” In a time of digital…everything, we have more access to “just,” get things done, and yet productivity, health, and wellness are at all-time lows. While these devices certainly can and do bring us many conveniences and opportunities, it seems we spend more time with our heads down in more of a “let’s not,” than “just do.”

The downside of a “heads down,” population is steep! What comes at the greatest cost of the downward trend is mental health. The constant use and need to be on a screen for all matters has come at the cost of our well-being, leading to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, sleep issues, and more. How can we change it? Maybe we, “just, look up!” Yes, just looking up has benefits! From seeing other people eye to eye, seeing out the window, seeing other cars while driving, reducing neck pain, allowing yourself to be more present and the list goes on! Adding in all these things is like adding currency to a mental health bank account, the only action needed is, just looking up!

Research from emarkter.com indicates that the average American adult spends over 3 hours per day on their smartphone alone. This excessive screen time often comes at the expense of engaging in outdoor activities and spending time in nature. Research from the National Library of Medicine shows that just looking outside has amazing mental health benefits. Even better, spending time outdoors can increase your mental health and help regulate your circadian rhythm (sleep cycle), which has an immense impact on your mood and well-being. Research supports that “just,” being in nature has a calming effect on the mind and can reduce stress levels.

May is mental health awareness month. Especially in Vermont where mental health concerns are rising for all people, we all must learn ways to prioritize, manage, and support our own needs. For some, this will mean seeking out resources and getting connected to NKHS (Northeast Kingdom Human Services) which has a ton of resources, talking with your primary care, or

connecting with the mental health resources that may be right in your doctor’s office. Calling 988 is a great way to start the connection. For others, it may be as simple as just looking up more! Literally! By consciously looking up, we reclaim more of our lives, we become more present, and for some, this may mean reaching out to the above resources. For some, just looking up will mean taking all that time back and putting it into what matters, getting back into art, music, your family, or getting outside! There’s a reason we want our kids to be active, but what about you?

For many of us, as children if we were asked to put our heads down it was a punishment, now we are doing it on purpose! There’s a penalty that comes with this excessive need to be on the screen, to seem unavailable or busy, or to use it as a tool to stay disconnected from our friends and family. However, when we look up, that’s when we take charge again, we spring into action, maybe even new life! For some this could be three hours back a day, 21 hours back a week, 84 hours back a month, 1008 hours back a year….and if you only had 20 years left to live, would you want to say you spent 20,160 of those hours (that’s 840 days) on a screen? The time has come, we can do it together, let’s just look up!