Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve struggled over the years with my emotional and mental health. I’ve wrestled with depression, anxiety, fear, and comparison. It’s not my favorite thing to open up and talk about. Still, in a world of expectations and ongoing societal tensions, we seem to be at epidemic proportions regarding our state of peace and contentment. In other words, I am not alone in this struggle.
As Julie Homrich and I have continued to build ClearPath Counseling Network, I’ve become so much more aware of the simple steps we can all build into our daily routine and help get us to the point of peace. While these steps are simple, they require great intentionality. Without recognizing the need to introduce these simple steps into our daily lives, we allow our emotions to overwhelm us and control us, often with significant negative consequences.
Here are three of the lessons that have greatly helped me get in my lane of peace and contentment. I trust that they will help you as well.
- PRIORITIZE SLEEP! For decades I would brag about the fact that I could function at peak performande on 4-5 hours of sleep each night. The greek interpretation of those bragadocious words is “stupid.” If there is one thing I avoid at all costs, it’s not getting enough sleep. One poor night’s sleep won’t ruin your health, but it also won’t help you feel your best the following morning. String together multiple nights of poor sleep, and you’ll set yourself up for a number of potential issues: “The long-term effects of sleep deprivation are real. It drains your mental abilities and puts your physical health at real risk. Science has linked poor slumber with a number of health problems, from weight gain to a weakened immune system.”–Alyssa Atkinson
- Recognize and Attack Stress! Chronic stress is one of those things that isn’t entirely in our control, but it can wreak havoc on both our body and our mind. We often want to flee from stress in the hopes that it wil simply work its way out. But it rarely does that. Stress is a beast on our mental health and our physical health. In this article, from the National Institute for Mental Health you will discover the great challenges that both self-inflicted stress and stress applied to us does to our lives. There’s no question that life stressors will pop up regularly, and we have to deal with them when they do. There will always be an endless list of things you could stress about, such as a potential new job opportunity, family tension, finances, or a meeting with someone who you don’t know well. The cumlative results of each of these stressers is usually out of your control, and stressing will never better the outcome. I know it is easier said than done, but if you can learn to prepare to the best of your ability, and then let the chips fall where they may without stressing about all the “what-ifs”, both your mental and physical health will benefit immensely. I have discovered that three things I’ve placed in my morning routine help me consistantly manage stress well. Seek to recognize the stress, name it, and then attack it!
1) MEDITATION! I know that I sound like a broken record, but engaging in prayer meditation will change your stress level immensely. Just 5-7 minutes each day to slow your thoughts, calm your soul and attempt to hear from your Creator is a HUGE step toward amanging and attacking stress.
2) LISTS! Prep a list on anything you cna be consistent with. List as much detail as your brain needs. I create a task list every single day. It is on a 3×5 card and includes evertything from big pictire items to remembering to take out the trash. I see my lists as a parking lot so I don’t have to stress over what I need to remember!
3) EXPECTATION EXPLANATION! We all have expectation for ourselves and for others. Expectations unmet can create huge blocks of stress in our life. Here are a few thoughts on the expectations that we all struggle with: First, we deal with personal expectations that typically start with comparison. We start comparing our life, or even our day to others, with great regularity. Comparison will rob you of joy, contentment and peace. It is a relentless thief that will attack you, every single day. There isn’t a single generation that doesn’t face this challenge of comparison. Second, comparison calls on us most when we live our lives through social media. The life we are comparing ourself to is often not real, at all! Third, comparison happens without our own sense of reality. Every person I know has something I do not have. But every person I know has challenges, sufferings and battles that I do not know, either. Stae and explain these realities to yourself and in that explanation do not allow the evil one to speak negative self-talk into your life – ever! You have one expectation to meet today and everyday. Love God, love others and love them as you love yourself. So, loving yourself is a powerful commandment…do it well and do it wise. Fourth, many of our expectations are created in a physical list or a mental list. They are created in our mind and often center around the what and where we “should be” right now in our life’s journey. TEAR UP THAT LIST! Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be stressed!
In the words of my good friend, Julie Homrich; “the current church culture at large, we are really good at giving quick solutions in the form of a Bible verse or building the next big program, but there are certain tipping points in a generation where we see that people are desperate for someone of faith to validate their pain without immediately trying to fix it. Mental and emotional health have hit epidemic proportions in our nation, state and community.”
I realize that there are plenty of ways to attack mental and emotional health, but these three are so simple to implement. If you do not have a meditation tool to help you, I use Soul Space. It is simple, free and provides an incredible, peace-filled 5-7 minute meditation every day. I promise you that when you give this habit 14 straight days, you’ll find yourself craving it like I crave biscuits and gravy! In the paid subscription part of the app (TOTALLY WORTH IT!) is an 8 day course entitled, “The Jesus Way to a Happy Life.” It is a total gamechanger for the Follower of Christ.
Would you be so kind to drop a few thoughts in the comments section of this BLOG. I’d love to know how you are dealing with stress, anxiety and overall mental health. I would also love to know if there are any areas you’d like my thoughts on. Thanks for reading – PLEASE SHARE!