10 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health
By: Sabrina Peters
There’s no denying we’re in the midst of crisis like we’ve never experienced in our lifetime and chaos, confusion and angst has surged as a consequence.
It’s normal to experience a range of emotions – from fear to anger, worry to anxiety. But in every situation God wants us to remain steadfast in our faith, mentally strong and emotionally stable.
Here are 10 tips for looking after your mental health that will help you (and I) stay grounded and resilient during this turbulent time of unpredictability.
1. Let go of the things you can’t control
During this season it’s vital that we hold loosely the things we can’t control and focus on the things we actually can – like our attitude, our outlook and what we choose to focus on. We may not have control over the economic state of our country, our job situation or our ability to go outside, but we can choose to press into His presence, speak faith over fear and make our homes a place of peace. Stop focusing on the things you can’t regulate and give attention to the things you can – like staying at home, washing your hands and being nice to the family you’re now spending 24/7 with.
2. Maintain perspective
While it’s normal to have questions and concerns about what the future holds, it’s important to see beyond this present situation. We may feel blindsided, but God hasn’t been. He sees the end from the beginning while we’re stuck in the middle.
As Christians, we need to cling tightly to Romans 8:28 “And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.”
What we’re going through right now is not permanent. One day things will go back to normal, albeit a new type of normal, but nonetheless we will re-emerge having grown in stamina and perseverance. And don’t just look at it from a temporary perspective but see it though a heavenly lens. We know that this life is but a mist, here today gone tomorrow. Let’s endeavour to keep eternity in view.
3. Eat well, drink water
What you eat undoubtedly has an effect on your emotions and can make you feel lethargic, sluggish or even sick. As much as you can, eat nutritious healthy meals and do your best to avoid too much junk food. It’s a good idea to steer clear of sugary drinks and excessive caffeine and keep your fluids up by drinking lots of water. According to Dr Chris Beer, “water is the most important nutrient that our bodies need and is involved in almost every bodily function.”
4. Stay healthy, get active
As much as possible stay active, and if feasible, exercise. Exercise has so many positive effects, from improving your energy levels to releasing a flood of feel good chemicals from your brain to your body. Exercise has also shown to improve your mood and decrease feelings of depression and stress. Honestly, I’m not super fit but I’ve been making the effort to work out at home (or go for a slow walk with my kids ha) at least once a day. For some going outside is not even possible, but you can still do your best to add some movement to your day. Even if that means jumping on YouTube and doing a basic 10-minute workout in your living room.
5. Get enough sleep
Sleep is another commodity you don’t want to go without in this season of uncertainty. Sleep is vital for good health yet so many of us try and run on as little as possible. Don’t stay up all night surfing YouTube, you’ll end up exhausted and groggy the next day. Good sleep is essential, but don’t just sleep – rest. You may be surprised but the two are very different. Rest and recovery involve not just stopping physically but giving your mind time to slow down, repair and recuperate. For those working from home or schooling your kids, don’t let the days just roll into one. Establish a new routine and try and go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
Another great tip if you have the ability, is get out in the fresh air and sunshine. Even if that means sitting in your backyard or walking out on your balcony. There are numerous health benefits associated with sun exposure including boosting vitamin D levels, enhancing mood and energy, setting your body block and improving your sleep patterns.
6. Stay Connected
Social distancing does not equal relational disconnection. It’s so important that during this time we “stay connected.” Although it may not be possible to be face to face, we can still be heart to heart and be intentional about keeping in touch. That may include zoom calls, WhatsApp video chats or Facebook watch parties. Find people you love and lean into them for support. Talking about your feelings and processing your thoughts will help bring a sense of perspective and stability. And don’t just vent, pray!! There are plenty of online prayer meetings taking place right now that you can join in on and add your faith. And remember staying in touch includes being present with those right in front of you. I’m not gonna lie having dinner with my husband and kids at home every night has been so nice. For at least a few hours a day we’re fully focused and present with one another. We’ve been playing, reading and talking so much more!
7. Unplug from digital devices
Technology is an incredible tool especially in this season to help us stay in touch, but the way in which we use it and for how long is definitely important. It’s vital to set limits on how long you spend on your phone or computer. Scrolling social media all day non-stop may actually do more damage than good. Learn to switch off and unplug. If you’re feeling tired (yet wired) at night you may be suffering from overstimulation. This simply means your senses are on overload and your body and your mind will eventually pay the price. On that note avoid excessive media coverage. Continually reading news stories and articles may contribute to heightened feelings of worry and anxiety. Do your best to stay informed and up to date without being consumed with constant updates. One way our Pastor, Mark Varughese puts it is this, “Read the news, but meditate on God’s word.” Which leads me to point 8.
8. Meditate on God’s word and pray with faith
I don’t have all the answers, but God’s Word definitely has a lot of promises. It’s essential that during this time you press into God, meditate on His word and pray with authority. I recently wrote a blog called, “Scriptures to cling to in this season of crisis.” It personally helped me navigate my own questions and doubts. God’s word promises us peace in the storm, protection from harm, perseverance to endure, perspective that’s eternal and purpose in every season.
Here are a few verses that may encourage you too.
“Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have! You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way. Your authority is my strength and my peace. The comfort of your love takes away my fear. I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.” – Psalm 23:4 (TPT)
“We have this certain hope like a strong, unbreakable anchor holding our souls to God himself.” – Hebrews 6:19 (TPT)
“So, we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times; the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” –2 Corinthians 4:16 (THE MESSAGE)
“Then pray for one another to be instantly healed, for tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayerof a godly believer!” – James 5:16
There is so much power in prayer. So, join your faith with the army of saints and stand in the gap for yourself, your family and our world.
9. Remain grateful
Gratitude has an amazing way of keeping things in perspective. If the last few weeks have taught me anything, it’s to be thankful for all the things I once took for granted and appreciate the blessings (and privileges) I still have. Thankfulness has the power to shift your mindset which ultimately influences your emotions, moods and experiences. Try starting a gratitude journal where you list people, moments and things you are thankful for. Because the truth is we all having something in our lives to thank God for.
10. Ask yourself, what can I do to help someone else?
Reaching out to help someone else has a divine way of helping you! In seasons like this, it’s the little things that can mean the most. Reaching out to another person who’s struggling or alone will make the community so much stronger. Last week my kids and I wanted to show their teachers how much we appreciated their commitment, so we went out and bought them a gift and card. As I handed her the gift, I could see her holding back tears. I must admit I was holding them back myself. I know it’s just a small gesture, but there are so many little things we can do to take the focus off ourselves. I guarantee it will help pull you out of any kind of rut.
In the beautiful words of Corrie Ten Boom let me end on this. “Never be afraid to trust and unknown future to a known God.”
Article supplied with thanks to Sabrina Peters.
About the Author: Sabrina is a writer, pastor and relationships blogger. She is passionate about Jesus and changing the way people think about God & sex.