We each have our bag of mental challenges to deal with. Some of us have greater emotional vulnerabilities than others. But it’s still YOU who are in charge – of your mind, your emotions, and your mental health.
If you have the intellectual capacity to be reading this right now, you’ve got what it takes to take charge of your mental health. Being emotionally vulnerable doesn’t make you a victim; it just means you have to take extra care of your mind. You really can take steps to overcome whatever challenges you face, become mentally and emotionally fit, and find enjoyment, meaning, and hope in this life.
Here are 7 definite things you can do:
- Know yourself. Be honest and thoughtful about where you’re strong and where you’re vulnerable. Look at your family history and your own history. Pay attention to what makes you feel sad, anxious, or upset, versus what makes you feel mentally clear, joyous, and alive. Just paying attention to these things may give you wonderful insight into knowing what you need to do.
- Consider your physical lifestyle. Proper sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet have a significant impact on brain function. A rested, properly nourished mind is so much happier and clearer. If you’re not feeling well, survey your lifestyle carefully for things you may need to improve. If you’re emotionally vulnerable in some way, you may need to take extra precautions here.
- Choose your thoughts. Choosing to think positive thoughts is not a cure-all, but it’s much more possible than many people imagine. Ask a friend to remind you of the good things in your life when you are feeling down, and to question you when you make negative statements. Write down positive things to think about, and keep the list where you can look at it regularly. Practice putting up a mental STOP sign when you begin to feel upset. These positive mental habits take time to develop, but are one important factor in good mental health. Remember Paul’s admonition in Philippians 4:8 to think about what is good.
- Pay attention to your environment. Your mental diet makes a big difference in your thinking. Choose music, TV programs, books, magazines, or internet sites that demonstrate the feelings, thoughts, and values that you want to have. Spend time with people who build you up, encourage you, and demonstrate what a healthy mental/emotional life is like. Engage in spiritually nurturing activities such as prayer or attending church services.
- Consider supplements. If you’re not eating a super-healthy diet, consider a phytonutrient supplement – not because there’s proof it helps with mental health, but because it’s safe, and subtle nutritional deficiencies may affect some people with mental health issues. Consider St John’s Wort if you’re struggling with depression. Consider chamomile if you’re struggling with anxiety. Melatonin may help if you have trouble sleeping.
- Do something productive. One of the best ways to get away from negative emotions is to look outside yourself. The world is not all about you. Find someone else who needs help, and find a way to make their life better. Do something relaxing and creative such as making music, painting, or gardening. Join a Bible study or community action group. Do something to give of yourself to the world.
- Get some help. If you’ve been trying to feel better on your own and something isn’t working, get some help. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for assistance. Seek out a wise pastor, a godly counselor, or a faith-friendly psychologist or family therapist. Before committing to a relationship with a professional ask questions to be clear that they’re the kind of person who can offer help to someone with your problems. You don’t have to struggle alone.
You can make a tremendous improvement in your mental health by taking action in a number of these areas. If you’re not functioning at your best, look over this list and see if there are any changes you can make. Make a serious attempt to work things out for a few weeks. And if you still struggle, get some professional help.
You CAN have a strong, clear mind. God said that’s one of the benefits of following Him: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Your Turn: What do you do to keep your mind healthy? Leave a comment below.
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