Understanding Mental Health

Woman walking down a dirt road
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Understanding Mental Health

And the Path to Restoration

To really face mental health issues, you have to dig deep into what’s causing pain, fear, or anxiety. For example, anxiety isn’t a thing. It’s the symptom of a thing and so we have to go a little deeper and ask a question, ‘What is making you anxious?” Many times, too much credit is given just to anxiety. What was happening is something or someone was making you anxious. We must go beneath the surface to ask, ‘What is it that you’re afraid of? Who is it that you’re afraid of? What was said that you wish you could now manage the way it was said? You cannot manage every outcome all the time but you can take steps to healing and freedom.

Signs on a fence

1. Love and value who God made you to be:
To value is to love. Loving yourself is being thankful for being who God created you to be, “I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made,” Psalm 139:14. Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies and favorite projects, or broaden your horizons. Do plant a garden, take tennis lessons, learn to play an instrument, volunteer at church, or join a club.

2.Take care of your body, it belongs to God:
Caring for your body glorifies God, it demonstrates a good testimony to others and it gives you the energy that you need to do God’s will. We are told, “Whatever we do, we do to the glory of God,I Corinthians 10:31. Our primary purpose in life is to glorify God. Taking care of yourself physically can also improve your mental health. For example, by:

    • Eating nutritious meals
    • Avoiding bad habits
    • Drinking plenty of water
    • Exercising regularly
    • Getting enough sleep
    • Praying and reading the Bible


3. Surround yourself with good people:
People with strong family or social connections can inspire you to work toward your goals. “Continuing with one mind and breaking bread from house to house they were taking meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,” Acts 2:46. Make plans with family members and friends, or seek out activities where you can meet new people; such as in church, a class or support group.

4. Give of yourself to serve others:
We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. “Every Believer has received grace gifts, so use them to serve one another,” I Peter 4:10. Volunteer your time and energy to help someone else. You’ll feel good about doing something tangible to help someone in need — and it’s a great way to meet new people.

5. Learn how to deal with stress:
The best part about having God on your side is that He is always guiding you. “Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight,” Psalm 119:143. Practice good coping skills: pray, exercise, take a nature walk, play with your pet or journal Bible promises. Also, remember to smile and to see the goodness of God. Research shows that laughter can boost your immune system, ease pain, relax your body and reduce stress.

6. Quiet your mind:
Try meditating and praying God’s Word. “Keep the Word always on your lips; meditate on it day and night…then you will be prosperous and successful,” Joshua 1:8. Take time to relax in His Presence. Meditation and prayer can improve your state of mind and outlook on life. In fact, research shows that meditation may help you feel calm and enhance the effects of healing.

7. Set realistic goals:
Decide what you want to achieve spiritually, professionally and personally, and write down the steps you need to realize your goals. Aim high, but be realistic and don’t over-schedule. You’ll enjoy a tremendous sense of accomplishment and self-worth as you progress toward your goal. “Write the revelation and make it plain on tablets so you can run with it. The revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false,” Habakkuk 2:2-3. Goals should be specific and concrete so you have a clear idea of what actions you need to take.

8. Break up the monotony:
Although our routines make us more efficient and enhance our feelings of security and safety, a little change of pace can be energizing and exciting. Alter your walking route, plan a road-trip, hang some new pictures or try a new restaurant. Those physical changes can bring spiritual changes. You grow and learn new things every time something changes. “I’ve done the former, a new thing will I do..,” Isaiah 42:9 God wants to grow your spiritual realm. As you become flexible and adapt to change in the physical realm, your spiritual realm will also increase.

9. Avoid overeating, alcohol and other drugs:
Keep all things to a minimum and avoid bad habits. Sometimes people use food, alcohol and other drugs to “self-medicate” but in reality, these only aggravate problems. One must admit that it is a bad habit and you need to stop. “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery, instead, be filled with the Spirt,“ Ephesians 5:18. Bad habits will continue if one tries to justify in their minds, “It’s okay if I don’t hurt anyone else.” If one feels they can justify, their sin nature will take that opportunity and keep them stuck.

10. Get help when you need it:
Seeking help is a sign of strength — not a weakness. And it is important to remember that treatment is effective. People who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and addiction and lead full, rewarding lives. “Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life,” Proverbs 19:20-NLT

Walking on a log in the forrest

*Adapted from the National Mental Health Association/National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare