20170802

Ladies, 5 Ways to Take Care Of Your Mental Health

Taking time to care for your mental health will benefit you, those around you, and the quality of your daily work. While caring for our mental health is a personal task that can look different for each of us, I hope this offers you a good place to start on your journey to continued mental health.

1. Know your breaking point. 
We tend to live our lives based on obligations and the expectations of others. We tend to stretch ourselves too thin and then wonder why we can’t be great at everything we do. But we keep at it, believing the message of our culture that not only can we do anything and everything, but we deserve to do anything and everything. Even some Christian advisors tell us to keep “doing” by misapplying Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” So we keep going, we keep doing, and for many of us, this causes our mental health to suffer.

We must remember that we are limited in our abilities, and that God limited us for our own good. We simply can’t do anything and everything and we should stop trying. Know your breaking point. Know when to say no.

We hesitate to say no because we don’t want to appear weak, lazy, or we simply don’t want to miss out. But saying no is actually a sign of maturity and wisdom. We can only do so many things well. We ought to be wise enough to know how many plates we can juggle before our mental health suffers, and we ought to be honest enough to say no when we’ve reached our max.

2. Be open, honest, and silly. 
We need to start being open with our friends and family about the things in our lives that cause our mental health to suffer. For some, it might be wise to ask close friends or family members to hold you accountable to saying no, or to taking time for yourself to recover from the ongoing stresses of life.

In Galatians 6:2, we’re told to bear one another’s burdens. You’ll probably find that those closest to you need your support as much as you need theirs.

While we all need trusted people in our lives to open up to and cry with, we also need people in our lives to laugh and be silly with! Laughter decreases stress hormones and releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. We’ve all heard it said that laughter is good medicine; it just might be true! So be intentional about watching a funny movie, playing silly games or spending quality time with people who bring a smile to your face.

3. Eat right and exercise. 
We all know that a proper diet and regular exercise will help keep us physically healthy, but we often forget that it also helps maintain mental health. Studies show that a healthy diet and regular exercise can lessen the affects of depression, anxiety, insomnia and many other symptoms that affect our mental health.

1 Corinthians 6:19 & 20 asks a very important question: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” There are many ways to apply this particular verse; keeping our bodies healthy in order to maintain our mental health is certainly one of them.

4. Be in the Word and in prayer. 
We’re quick to nourish and hydrate our bodies, but we often forget that our souls need nourishment too. Matthew 4:4 tells us that, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but from every word that comes from the mouth of God.” The Word is not only profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16), but the Word is the very lifeblood of our being and is vital for our mental health. Being in the Word daily will strengthen your faith, give you hope and fill you with the joy of Lord so that you can work for His glory in all that you do.

We often forget that prayer is our best defense and, when we find ourselves suffering mentally, prayer is often the last thing that comes to mind. While God knows our every need, it’s to our benefit to talk with him, asking him to keep us mentally strong and healthy. Jesus often withdrew to desolate places to pray (Luke 5:16) and we should follow that example. Humbling ourselves before the Lord, the very lifeblood of our existence, can be nothing but beneficial.

5. Take time to refuel. 
Extroverts tend to refuel by being with people. Introverts tend to refuel by being alone. It’s important to figure out what recharges your battery, and then make a point to do just that on a regular basis. Do something you enjoy and don’t feel guilty about it! This might mean listening to music, watching television, reading, hiking, fishing, napping or simply being still before the Lord.

Taking time for ourselves is difficult for many of us, we tend to feel guilty about doing for ourselves rather than doing for others. But we must remember that we can better serve others if we take time to care for ourselves. Taking time to refuel can relieve stress, increase concentration and productivity, energize your body and rejuvenate your mind. Taking time for yourself can help you refocus and better prioritize your obligations. No tank can run on empty. Taking time to refuel will also lead to a greater appreciation and dedication to your walk with the Lord.

[written by Beth Ann Baus, a wife and mom of two boys]