Mental Health Matters
In today’s society, there is a lot of focus on our physical health. How many magazines have you seen in the checkout line touting a new diet or exercise program to get your best body or obtain optimal physical health? Yet, when was the last time you saw a magazine headline that tackled mental health? Crickets, right? The fact is that our minds require just as much attention as our physical bodies. Just as with the physical body, failure to care for our minds will lead to their decline.
Why is Mental Health Important?
Poor mental health is destructive. The Bible says in Proverbs 4:23, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life.” While physically the heart and the mind (brain) are two separate organs, spiritually we recognize that our hearts and our minds are congruent. This means the Bible is literally telling us that life flows from our minds. So if we allow our minds to become polluted with stress, anxiety, depression, negative thinking, or other elements that drain us mentally, we turn our minds into a spring of death versus a spring of life.
Poor mental health is distracting. As someone who has battled with depression and anxiety, I am here to tell you that a mind that is not cared for is a mind completely consumed by negativity. When your mental health is declining, you are so absorbed by what is going on in your head that you cannot adequately focus your attention on the things and people that really matter. At the peak of my depression, every single thing I did was clouded by the turmoil going on in my head. I viewed everything from a negative lens because my mind was consumed with negativity. It wasn’t until I healed what was happening in my mind that I was able to function according to God’s design. For me, the healing was both mental, emotional and spiritual. I found comfort by talking to a trusted friend about what I was feeling. I also found myself hungry to read God’s Word and found scriptures that revealed to me how much God truly loved me and how He was there to carry my burdens and provide me the peace I wanted. Once I was able to walk in that emotional freedom and spiritual understanding, I was able to get back to my God-given purpose and reconnect with family and friends.
Poor mental health is not God’s design. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, the Bible refers to our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit and we are commanded to honor God with our bodies. In case you didn’t realize it, your mind is a part of your body. How then can we fully obey the command to honor God with our bodies if we allow a part of our body to deteriorate? We were created in God’s image and in His likeness for His purpose and for His glory. Thus, it is our responsibility to do what we can to keep His temple intact.
How Can I Improve/Maintain My Mental Health?
There is no one size fits all solution for improving or maintaining mental health. The mind of every person is unique, thus the mental maintenance we do will vary from person to person. The most important thing is that we all do something consistently to guard our minds and keep our mental health in tact. Below are a few suggestions for ways to improve and maintain positive mental health:
- Watch What You Watch: The things that we watch and listen to can greatly impact our mental health. That reality tv show or that song with a few curse words may seem harmless, but the spirit and message attached to it can still seep into your head and alter the way you think or perceive situations for the negative.
- Journaling: It can be very healthy to have a place where we can release our thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment. In my life, journaling has been a powerful mental health tool because I get to purge negative emotions and leave them there on the pages of my journal versus carrying them inside of me and allowing them to fester.
- Positive People: The people we surround ourselves with can either make us or break us mentally. It is important to have friends and family in your inner circle that you can talk to honestly and openly about how you feel. It is also important to make sure your inner circle can encourage you and speak life into you when you feel the stress of life wearing on you mentally.
- Find Balance: There is a lot going on in the world right now. Between what we see on the news and what we experience in our everyday lives, it can all just be a lot to handle. You can easily become discouraged and hopeless if all you see, hear, and experience is negative. It is okay to turn off the news. It is okay to decline an event invite. It is okay to tell people ‘No.’ There is no way we can be our best selves for others if we don’t give ourselves permission to regroup and reset mentally.
- Read the Word/Pray: Ultimately, God’s Word is the best way to guard our minds and hearts. His Word holds the truth that can combat the lies and attacks of the enemy on our minds.
- Seek Professional Help: There seems to be a stigma in the Christian community regarding seeking professional help for mental health issues. Why is it okay to seek professional help when our physical bodies are hurting but not when our minds are hurting? We’ve heard the comforting phrases about God being able to fix it, and they aren’t wrong. God absolutely can heal our hearts and minds. However, many of us fail to realize that oftentimes God heals and helps us by offering tools and resources for us to take advantage of. There is no shame in seeking help to assist you in being your best self. So get the help you need if you find you are unable to manage on your own.
Taking care of our mental health is essential to our overall wellness. What good is a healthy body if the driving force of that body (the mind) is weak and unable to function. Romans 12:2 reminds us that it is by the renewing of our minds that enable us to be transformed. So renew and refuel your mind consistently so that you can walk in the transformative power of God.