I would love to hear your thoughts, please post a comment.
The two main areas where people struggle today with their mental health are anxiety and depression which are unfortunately, on the increase. Anxiety is really based on fear and worry about tomorrow or guilt about yesterday. These worries can be legitimate but when they take over, then something needs to be done to reduce their impact. As Christians, we don’t want to admit we are struggling with anxiety, so we say we are challenged. Well believe it or not, most of us are or have been challenged! Negative mental health issues can pull us away from our present, but these habits can be broken if we decide to change our focus.
Within any area of mental health challenge, we can look back at our family tree and often see these same propensities popping-up in past generations.Over the years, I have prepared many genograms with my clients which examine at least three generations, to discover some of those aspects that could have been passed down. They are extremely illuminating! These mental health and even physical issues relate to the biopsychosocial and spiritual aspects of our lives and those of our ancestors. One aspect of the physical side or the DNA, can definitely be passed down. The psychological side could be perhaps the mindset of parents and grandparents as we were growing up. The social side might relate to reacting in similar ways to family members who might struggle with mental health issues due to environmental learning. Then last, but certainly not least, is the spiritual aspect and our relationship with God.
So what do we do if we do find we are struggling in any of these areas?
Here are some suggestions for you, that you can think and pray about, to perhaps consider for your particular challenges.
The biological or physical aspect— check it out in case it is a natural part of your life stage. For women, perimenopause or hormonal aspects can impact so you may want to get some assistance with vitamins, or foods that can help your internal gut or even investigate bio - identical hormones prescribed by a specialist GP for compounding. There is a wealth of information online now about gut health and hormones and how these can affect mental health.
The other aspect of the physical is exercise. Keeping active engaging in an exercise that you enjoy, releases endorphins and serotonin, which fight adrenaline and cortisol that can make you feel anxious or depressed when high levels are ongoing.
With the social aspect or relational, do you need some help as a couple or do you need to talk to a counsellor, coach, pastor or trusted friend? Or the reverse of that might be — is there a relationship that is causing you problems that you need to change or put in some boundaries? In this area of the relational, getting godly specialist help can be important.
Last, but not least is the spiritual aspect. When we look at the Psalms, particularly Psalm 23, David, who has been described by some theologians as chronically depressed, would work through his struggles in the writing of the Psalms. One of my favourites and maybe yours too is Psalm 23. In this psalm, David talks about walking through the valley with the help of the Shepherd by his side. I personally believe this is a great blueprint for how we should manage any struggles, pain or even deep anguish. By grieving in that valley place, however long that takes with our Lord's guidance, support and love will help enormously. I have done this many times as have a number of my clients and it truly is liberating.
The other spiritual aspect and perhaps a key for most of us, is to recognise there is an enemy of our souls that sends thoughts that can be received and accepted (or not). We tend to take these thoughts as gospel but if they’re not actual gospel, we don’t need to accept them.
For me, when I recognised that there was potentially a spirit of depression coming against me some years back and I began to speak to it in authority, I actually felt something depart and even felt it lift off (spooky - yes) - but illuminating and immensely freeing.
Other spiritual strategies are collecting verses that speak to you. Here are some of my favourites that you may like to refer to when feeling low:
Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 23, Philippians 4:6; 2 Timothy 1:7, Matthew 6:26, Psalm 55:22, 1Peter 5:7.
Below, in summing up, with a few last minute additions, are some quick tips for you to get started right away on being okay.
Be proactive and intentional about your mental health in each area that comprises the biopsychosocial and spiritual parts of you.
Talk to God about your issues – E.G. Psalm 23.
Persevere and fight because you are in a battle:
(Check out my online course Unstuck and Empowered petaempoweringyou.com where you can have my help as I teach you how to fight the battle, step by step. Half price if you type in client50 - you will receive 3 - 4 hours of me for only $50).
Get some Christian mindfulness happening (also taught in Unstuck and Empowered) or what I call BSB of your peace account: Breathe, Surrender and Be!
Start new habits of being thankful and grateful for your present moments and journal at least 3 times per week (validated by psychological research).
Exercise - find something that you enjoy, so that you will stick to it – if you need a community then go find one.
Get into nature, onto some grass perhaps which is called grounding or like me, get in the sea, you’ll be amazed at what this can do for your body and mental health.
Develop your personal strengths to give you confidence and feelings of success.
Be a friend or call a friend when you're in need.
Consider changing any negative self-talk.
Get professional help if you need it. *
Please recognise that we are all on a journey of growth towards the end of this life when we finally get to go home and be with the Lord. What a day that will be! In the meantime we can be beautiful examples of living strong in the Lord, so being transparent whilst working on your own mental health will have a wonderful flow on effect for others. In the meantime, be gentle and compassionate towards yourself. We do all struggle at times with our own particular demons (me too).
You know what? You and I have a choice every moment and in every day. We can focus and ruminate and go down the gurgler. Or we can go God’s way fighting tough because the battle is largely spiritual. I recommend when you have a moment to yourself to read Romans 8 verses 1- 6, preferably in the new King James version, (not the NIV), as it’s pretty clear that we have a choice to live in the flesh or in the spiritual. Although we’ve looked at the biopsychosocial and spiritual aspects of mental health, at the end of the day, the spiritual side of our success will be God bringing us through so that we can give Him the glory.
Love to hear your thoughts,
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