Mental health and emotional health have a direct effect on all areas of your life-including your spiritual growth progress and physical health. Think about it for a second… Think of some people in your life that you know who are always stressed, always have some kind of semi-crisis situation, drama, or problem in their life. Are they sick fairly often? Do they seem to not ever be fully at ease or genuinely peaceful and happy? I can think of several people in my life that fit that description. Now, think of some more laid back, happy people that you know. The kind of people who never seem to get very worked up over anything. Not that they are slackers or apathetic, but they just almost always seem to be at peace and genuinely happy. They aren’t sick very often are they? Like Proverbs says:
A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
Proverbs 17:22 (NLT)
Now, let me say this, we are NOT psychologists. We are NOT doctors or licensed counselors. However, we are aware of and in pursuit of habits that maintain good mental and emotional health. It is our hope that in this space, we can share some wisdom with you as we all grow. So, to start off this discussion, let’s establish this:
I once walked into Karen Jensen Salisbury's office when I was a student at Bible college. A normally happy, go lucky girl, yet I was on the brink of sobbing. Out of frustration, I proceeded to tell her how much I hated having emotions and how dumb I thought emotions were. She explained to me that God created emotions and that the Jewish people in the Bible (God’s chosen people, through whom would come His rescue plan for all of humanity) were HIGHLY emotive. Today we would call them extremely emotional and maybe even slightly crazy. They would literally RIP their clothes when they were grieved, put ashes on their head when in mourning, and go around the city WAILING. Emotional much? But you wanna know the crazy part? God was not scared away by their “drama”. This conversation with her (and some good, solid Biblical counsel that she offered) has forever changed my outlook on emotions and helped me embrace the gift of emotions and process them in a healthy way.
Learning to process emotions in a healthy way
will benefit every part of your life.
Here are some very basic healthy emotional habits to help jumpstart your growth and healing
1. Talk to God about it
God REALLY does care about your emotions. Really. Read through the Psalms. Many of them were written by David (a man after God’s own heart) and they are highly emotional. Here's the key though, David took his emotions to God, talked about them, cried about them, whatever, and THEN he reminded his emotions WHO God is. David didn't get stuck wallowing in his emotions. The really emotional Psalms are finished off with exclamations of how big God is, and how faithful He is to his promises. David dealt with his emotions in a REALLY healthy way.
2. Recognize where that emotion is coming from, and deal with it accordingly
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10 (NIV)
God is good, God does good, and he is for your good.
Fear is not from God. Worry is not from God. Self-hate and feeling not good enough are not from God. Ultimately these types of emotions originate from Satan. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
3. Talk to a trusted friend
I read a quote from Holly Furtick on Instagram where she said to be “Always authentic but selectively vulnerable” I think that’s even more important in today’s world where you can quite literally put all your personal bidness out there for the whole world to see. Be authentic. Don’t pretend to be something or someone that you are not, but be selective about who you share your hurts and struggles with. Social media should not be your journal nor your go-to for venting or counseling.
Speaking of journaling… Journaling is a HUGELY helpful tool. Something powerful and freeing happens when you write out your thoughts. Journaling can help bring clarity and perspective. It also helps you to clear your headspace so you can focus on the root of the problem, rather than just the emotional fruit.
5. Get quality, Christian counseling
I am a HUGE proponent of quality, Christian counseling, of seeking therapy from trained professionals who will look to the Word of God to help give you guidance. I really wish there was not such a negative stigma around getting counseling. It’s an amazing tool and one that I have personally benefitted from greatly.
6. Take inventory of your habits
Poor health, poor diet, and poor sleep habits will affect your emotional health. More and more, scientists are realizing that what you put in your body affects more than just your waistline. Your diet affects your emotions and mental health as well. Junk in- junk out.
Poor sleep habits (read: not enough sleep or sleeping at the wrong times) inhibits your ability to judge what is important, leaving you overly emotional about everything. A nap or a great night’s sleep and great sleep habits can cure MANY emotional woes.
This is by no means an exhaustive discussion on how to maximize your mental and emotional health, but we hope that it gets you thinking and moving in the right direction. Taking care of your heart and your emotional well-being is YOUR responsibility.