By Kathryn Lupisan, Mental Health Coach
Christians are not immune from various mental health issues. Many people including pious Christians today are plagued by mental health challenges related to self-perception and social triggers. Our world is a fallen world, therefore ill-health, including mental ill-health, are challenges we may face. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Mental health awareness is an important part of remaining healthy in mind and in body.
Thankfully we have been blessed with tools to deal with mental health issues. It is not enough for Christians to pray away mental health challenges or for us to depend solely on mental health acts or laws. Rather, it is important to combine both available therapies and treatments with prayer. After all, both are goods that come from God.
Below, we look at one type of mental health challenge emanating from negative or wrong thinking and some ways out – with the help of a certified coach.
Signs Negative Thinking May Be Consuming You.
- Find yourself in a constant or dominant state of gloom and doom
- See everything so dark that you do not see the light at the end of the tunnel no matter how people around you have tried to cheer you up and how you tried to think happy thoughts?
- Feel stuck like being inside a hole, that you do not know where to start or how to move on?
- Feel frustrated because things are not happening as they should be in your relationships, in your work, or in your finances.
- Feel inadequate and even hopeless that you start telling yourself, “I am worthless.”, “I am a failure.” “I am not good enough.”?
- On antidepressant medications but find yourself merely surviving but not living?
If you can relate to any of the above scenarios, you may need a mental health coach.
A mental health coach is someone who can help to correct our negative or distorted thinking. In the same way that we need a teacher to learn to play the piano, and a coach to be good at sports, we need a friend, a family member, a mentor, or a mental health coach to support our good health of mind.
Your Mental Health Coach May Help You With
- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
CBT is based on the premise that how you feel now is caused by what you are thinking. So, how does it work? For our purpose, I won’t get to technical things, but I just want to emphasize here how important it is to identify what one is thinking as one experiences negative emotions. Why? because most of the time, there is a cause-and-effect correlation between the two. For example, if one is feeling so sad about losing her job, it is most probably because her self-talk regarding the matter has turned so negative. Perhaps, she is telling herself, “I am really a failure. Look at how I am failing in all aspects of my life. I only had one boyfriend and the relationship did not even last. I am already 28 years old, and I am not yet successful while some people are already earning great at 24.”
If one does not get out of the cycle of negative thoughts, the negative emotions will linger and intensify and before you know it, depression is at your door.
This is a way to look at the same event, which is 100% true, and works for you. Let us take the example of losing one’s job.
You could tell yourself, “I lost the job not because I am a failure but because the company went bankrupt. So, it is not about me. I just have to look for another job. I will focus my strength and energy on the job search so that I can get a new job soon.” Easy? No. Why? Because we are wired to look at things in a negative way.
That is why we need to practice reframing over and over again until it becomes part of us. Until our brain is rewired. That is the reason we need to have someone with whom to share our thoughts so that we can be guided to think more realistically and positively.
3. Double Standard
Here is an approach that helps us to be less self-critical. We can ask the person for example, “If your best friend also lost her job under the same circumstance you found yourself in, then what will you tell her? Will you tell her that she is really a failure, that she is failing in all aspects of her life, etc.? Definitely, you won’t tell her that, right? If you were a good friend, you will tell her something that is 100% true but at the same time, compassionate and encouraging. So, why not tell that to yourself too?”
4. Examine the Evidence
What is important here is not to assume that the negative thought is true but precisely, to ask for proof for what one is thinking.
I remember a client saying that she thinks her mother does not love her. I asked her what made her say that and she said that her mother criticizes everything that she does. I questioned her categorical statement of “everything.” Overgeneralization is one distorted thinking that we need to be careful about. I also asked her what could be the reason why her mother would criticize her for some matters. So, it turned out that her mother would criticize her for some matters because she really cares for her. It’s just that her mother perhaps can express her concern in a more positive way. This technique is very powerful and it can really smash some very negative thoughts in an instant.
5. Positive Self-Talk
Dr. David Burns, a psychiatrist and author of the best-selling book “Feeling Good” says, “You feel the way right now, because of the thought you are thinking at this moment.” That is why I really advise people to work on their self-talk. When you feel a strong negative feeling, ask yourself, “What am I telling myself that is making me feel this way?” Then, try one of the techniques I mentioned that can help you get out of your negative thoughts. If you are telling yourself over and over again, “this is so difficult” then obviously, the task will prove to be so difficult. But if you tell yourself, “Yes, this is difficult but with more patience and diligence, I can do this.” Then, I can assure you will not only be able to finish it, but you will perform much better.
Start examining your self-talk and try to improve it by making it realistic and positive. Remember, it must be 100% true. And it should be reframed in a way that works for you.
Access Coaching from the Comfort of Your Home. Contact me to schedule a session online. I would love to work with you and yes, I can do so virtually. I work with people who are grappling with their intense negative emotions, specifically depression and anxiety.
Kathryn Lupisan is a Emotional Resilience Coach Helping Young Female Executives To Be Successful And Happy.
Send Kathryn a Message: https://bit.ly/3DuZgf4
If You Are Not Ready For Therapy or a Coach, These Tips May Help You As a Type of Mental Health First Aid
Tips for Mental Health Resilience:
By CCWiki Staff
The human body is made up of the mind, body, and soul, and these three are integrated into one single unit. Therefore, any problem with a person’s mental health will also affect the other parts of the person. Therefore, there’s a need to take proper care of mental health, as this can affect the physical, emotional, and spiritual nature of Christians.
However, the subject of mental health can be a tricky one for Christians, as acts of self-care for good mental well-being can sometimes be viewed as selfishness or self-indulgence. As such, we shy away from these acts, sometimes leading to poor mental health. Note though, that we need to be in a good mental condition to worship God faithfully, in spirit, and in truth. Poor mental health is often exhibited through stress, anxiety, depression, etc. Other more serious symptoms such as bipolar episodes, and schizophrenia may also occur and these – according to the circumstances – should be made known to your family physician immediately or the person facing these challenges should attend to the hospital emergency services.
To keep your mental health in good shape, you need to be able to deal with hard things in life, like a setback, the death of a loved one, illness, etc. This is what mental resilience is all about. If you don’t have mental resilience, you might dwell on your problems, feel overwhelmed by them, and even turn to unhealthy ways to deal with them, like drinking, smoking, or eating badly.
However, being resilient does not mean an absence of life’s challenges; Resilience allows you to live well with multiple layers of information that may be sometimes contradict each other. Resilience allows you to see past clearly and accept it, better handle stress, and enjoy life despite your challenges.
Here are some effective ways to be resilient as a Christian and to ultimately care for your mental health.
- Prayer and Spiritual Retreat.
We know that there’s nothing we can achieve without God, including mental resilience (Mathew 19:26). When the troubles of life hit you, your first response should be to run to God in prayer. There you will find the strength to get up from your fall and pick up the pieces of what’s left of the situation. Keep at it though because the strength may return to you gradually and in time.
Make a habit of praying even before the storm hits you, as this prepares you for such moments and builds your resilience against them. The Spirit of Christ that lives in us, gives life to our bodies ( Romans 8:11 ). It is this same spirit that gives us the strength to get up and forge ahead when we fall at various junctures in life.
Also, because we are God’s children and know that whatever we ask of Him, He hears us (1 John 5:14), and because we know that He loves us so much especially when we are going through hard times (Isaiah 43:1-3 ; Psalm 34:18), we can pray to Him and ask for mental strength. In praying, declare the word of God in which says that God has given us a sound mind, and believe it strongly in your heart (2 Timothy 1:7,).
Above all, strive to remember that asking God for help in prayer allows Him to work in you. It is not a function of your strength but a function of the Spirit of God activated in you.
2. Connect with your church community
The Christian journey should not be embarked on alone. We all need one another at one point in our lives or another, most especially in our turbulent times. We should be sharing our burdens, because we are strongest when we are together and when we share our life’s challenges (Galatians 6:2).
Therefore, when you’re going through some difficulties or challenges in life, do not hesitate to share them with your fellow brethren. Look for someone you can trust in the church and share your problems with them. Go to your priest and relay your challenges to him. The importance of going to your Priest or a trusted brother or sister in the church rather than just anyone out there is that you can get good advice based on God’s word on how to face your troubles and not a piece of worldly advice that does not glorify God.
In addition, sharing your challenges with your priest or fellow Christian takes some of the load off your mind and often opens up your mind to solutions to these challenges. You are also helped by the advice or encouragement you get to keep going and get through the situation, which in turn keeps your mental health in good shape. So, rather than putting up a fake show of being strong while you’re crumbling inside, ask for help from a trusted Spiritual guide at Church and ultimately preserve your mental health.
You may also wish to join a small Church group with which you share intrest such as Bible study group, a Choir group and so on.
3. Lean on Scripture
The Bible is filled with many encouraging passages and stories from which we can draw strength in our times of trouble. In addition to the stories that show examples of resilience in the Bible (Job 1; 1 Kings 19:3-4, Luke 22:44), verses like John 16:33 and Matthew 6:25-34 give us the encouragement we need to go through turbulent times and face the anxieties of life.
Just like prayers, reading the Bible gives us strength to go through life’s challenges because they are God’s words with power to set us free from the overwhelming problems of life. When we read the Bible, God speaks to us, reassures us, and encourages us that He is with us even in the midst of our troubles (Isaiah 43:1-3, Psalm 23:4, and John 16:33).
Also, meditating on God’s words fills your heart and mind with peace and calmness because you are reassured of God’s love for you. Knowing that God loves you, you can remain calm in whatever situation you find yourself in because he has already won victory (John 16:33). Your situation is only one battle out of a long overall war that Christ has already won.
Therefore, form the habit of meditating daily on the word of God so that you can be reassured of God’s love for you. Let His word dwell richly in you (Colossians 3:16) and become a part of you so that you can withstand the stormy days when they come.
4. Practice self-care
As we have already established, the body, mind, and spirit are interconnected, and the negligence of any one of these components will affect the other two.
To have a sound mind and be able to withstand the ups and downs of life, we need to take good care of ourselves. By so doing, we would have the strength to stand strong in the face of life’s challenges (being resilient).
Tips for self-care
● Live healthy: Eat well, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, use drugs and alcohol moderately. Also, go for regular medical checkups to keep your mind and body healthy and improve resilience.
● Socialize: Try making new friends and connecting with existing ones. Being alone can hurt us mentally and reduce our ability to stay strong in turbulent times. We receive strength from the advice and encouragement of others to forge ahead despite the set-backs we face. No man is an island to themselves. We are social beings and need others – material goods and technology cannot replace interpersonal or social exchanges.
● Engage in activities you love: This can mean going to the movies, visiting the park, painting, reading, biking, walking, singing, watching a positive movie, etc. Doing something you love helps take the stress off your mind and preserve your mental health.
● Relax: Always find time to relax. Engage in activities like getting a massage or taking a bath; you can even visit the blessed sacrament and pour out your heart and all that bothers you to Jesus, who is present there. This will help clear your mind and improve your mental health.
Jesus Approves of Self Care. Self-Care is Christian
Some may think that practicing self-care is an act of selfishness or being ungodly. However, self-care is all about refreshing and renewing our bodies, minds, and spirits so that we can continue to be of use to others and to God.
We see from the teachings of Jesus that we must take very good care of ourselves if we are to fulfill the mandate that God has given to us as Christians and to fulfill our purpose on earth. The following are some biblical passages to show this:
● Matthew 5:13 tells us that we need to preserve our saltiness to fulfill our mandate as Christians. We can only achieve this by feeding our spirits with God’s word. This is your first act of self-care as a Christian.
● Also, Matthew 6:25-34 teaches us not to worry, but to seek first the kingdom of God and all other things would be added unto us. This can also serve as the foundation of self-care. When we seek God’s kingdom by pursuing Him and spending time in His presence, He takes care of all that concerns us, and we do not need to worry or be anxious.
● In Mark 6:31-32, Jesus calls on His disciples to move away from the crowd and go to a quiet place to rest with Him.
● In Matthew 15:32, Jesus cared for the people and provided something for them to eat rather than just sending them away. So, we ought to take care of ourselves.
● The Bible commands that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31) and that husbands should love their wives as their bodies (Ephesians 5:28-29). So, we ought to take care of ourselves.
● Lastly, taking out time for solitude is another act of self-care, as we see in the life of Jesus (Mark 1:35). First, it allows us time to rest from the activities of life, then we reflect on life itself and communicate with Jesus, taking all our cares and worries to Him.
● Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), so you ought to take care of it.
That said, self-sacrifice and self-denial remain crucial parts of our Christian calling e.g. fasting and abstinence during penitential periods such as Lent, Holy Week, etc. But, as was mentioned earlier, if we want to sustain that calling, we must take good care of ourselves.
5. Look onto Jesus
Never forget the promises of God, especially in times of trouble, stress, or anxiety. These are times when we are most likely to forget the promises of God and be overwhelmed by the problems we face. But this should not be the case. Fix your gaze on Jesus, cast your cares on Him; keep in mind His promises, and never let go (1 Peter 5:7).
Fixing your eyes on Jesus and His faithfulness gives you the strength to go through hard times and stay strong because you know that God will come through for you in the end (John 16:33). It also fills you with a feeling of inner peace and joy that does not allow any form of mental illness to find its place in you.
Faith produces resilience. Therefore, take advantage of the sacraments of the church to build your faith in God. Visit the blessed sacrament often, spending time with Jesus. Receive Him every day at Mass in the Holy Eucharist, and go to confession as often as possible e.g. monthly. These would help to put you in the right frame of mind to remain strong despite the anxieties of life. Also, fixing your gaze on Jesus as you journey through life gives you the confidence you need to go through the ups and downs of life, building your mental resilience and maintaining mental health.
The journey of life is filled with ups and downs. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to withstand the hurdles of life without the help of God. This is the reason why many suffer from mental ill health. Some others have mental ill health due to trauma or genetic reasons. These and other cases that manifest serious effects should be taken to your medical care practitioner.
However, other forms of mental disturbances or unhealthy mental states such as constant negativity or weak resilience among others may be tackled through these spriritual and physical steps.
In addition, they may be tackled with therapeutic methods such as those offered by Kathryn Lupisan.
Send Kathryn a Message: https://bit.ly/3DuZgf4