Three Tools for Mental Well-Being
Over the last few days i have thought a lot about mental well being. As a school psychologist i am constantly thinking about my students and their well being. Although i work with them on their academic achievement it is also my responsibility to make sure they are doing well mentally, and emotionally. Outside of my work, i struggle with applying the same care i have towards my student on myself. I am often way to quick to turn to self destructing habits, like binge watching to numb my brain, or my personal favorite, wallowing in self pity. These habits are not helpful, in fact they only make us feel worse. Habits like talking to a friends, taking a walk, or participating in a group exercise class, are all ways to give us that euphoric feeling. In the the words of Elle woods " Exercise gives you endorphin's. Endorphin's make you happy ." But i digress...
Anyone who has lived at least 20 years on this earth is well aware that low points happen. We get sad, discouraged, and feel directionless. During these times, what are we to do? And more importantly, what tools can be used during times of sadness and discouragement. The bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 7:14 that , " When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this :; God has made the on as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future ." The good and the bad are all part of our human existence, and knowing how happy or how sad we will be in the future is an impossible task.
As a christian i know that the bible is meant to be my guiding point, our lifestyle handbook. The knowledge of our mental nature is spread throughout . Just look at some of the language used in psalms, "brokenhearted, downcast, despair, anguish. God understands human nature, he knows, HE KNOWS, that we will have many, many, high points, and many, many low points. Being the all knowing God that he is, he made sure to give us the tools we need to climb back towards equilibrium.
There are three important tools i believe are at our disposal as Christians (and non christian). Of course we are a list of healthy options, these are just the tree that work best for me. The best thing we can do, is become aware of our options and use them when needed. As people living on this earth, we sometimes need crutches to get us through each day. Here are three tools we can use .
This is the first obvious tool, the bible is filled with text to nourish our soul and heal our brokenness. Here are some text that speak to our hearts and minds.
Isaiah 26: 3
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (NIV)
John 14: 1
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. (NIV)
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (NIV)
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray, is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. (NIV)
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
I am a huge devotional, inspirational reader. These books can serve as an option outside of bible reading, they are usually very uplifting and sometimes autobiographical. For me personally, being able to read about someone who struggles in the same ways i do, is a huge plus. It is a reminder that we are not alone in our struggle, and that there is light after a period of sadness.
Present over perfect - Shauna Niequist (Read my review here)
I don't wait anymore - Grace Thornton (Read my review here)
The Gift of imperfection - Brene Brown (Purchase here )
Facing your Giants - Max Lucado (Purchase here)
Counseling or Therapy
I am a mental health professional, so it goes without saying that i am a huge advocate for therapy or counseling. I am also a christian women who believes in counseling. In 2017 there is still a stigma within the faith community about seeking mental health treatment. Over the years, and especially when i started college, i received a lot of unwarranted advice about psychology being "the devils work", or "not natural". This of course is far from the truth. Counseling by a license professional, can be a great source of help and relief for depression, and other mental health concerns. It is time that we stop demonizing something that i believe God gave his people as a tool for well being. If a non- religious counselor is not something you would consider, there are many license christian counselors who are available all over the U.S.
Proverbs 1:5 states " Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance-." We have the tools, we have no excuse but to use them.