This post contains my notes from the talk on "Balancing Faith and Mental Health" which was delivered by Pastor Yinka Dada, MD during the just concluded Light Up Canada Conference. To watch the entire event, including other talks delivered by other seasoned ministers, please visit the RCCGCANADA YouTube Channel. I love me some exposition on mental health! If you're like me in this way, please keep scrolling! 🙂 My extras are in italics. 😉
Faith and mental health can coexist. People of faith can experience issues with their mental health. Some examples of people in the Bible who had issues with their mental health include Elijah (1 Kings 19:4), Jonah (Jonah 4:8) and David (Psalms 42:5-6).
I feel that fellow christians should really let this sink in, because sometimes, we like to act tough, or probably live in denial. I like the growing awareness that is being invested in the area of mental health. For me, this validates the recently increasingly popular quote – Jesus and Therapy)
Silence can be golden, especially when comforting people. The speaker advised that rather than providing your speculations or unsure opinions to loved ones who are hurting, maybe try keeping shut, and just being there. (Hmm, imagine if Job’s friends had heeded this advice?)
Do not use spirituality to cover up things. Seek relevant knowledge.
Humans are tripartite beings consisting of spirit, soul and body. Sadly, we christians are fond of taking care of our spirits (by cultivating our relationship with God) but we must also take care of our souls (the seat of our emotions) as well as our bodies (using exercise, good food, etc.). Life is in seasons. As you grow older, you will need to take better care of your body.
Possible Causes of Mental Ill-health
- Chemical imbalance in the brain. Lower levels of neurotransmitters can cause symptoms (like feelings of emptiness, sadness, etc.)
- Anatomy or physiology.
- Environment (where you were nurtured).
- Losses. (Take time to mourn your losses. Another usual recommendation for dealing with losses is “Write down everything you have lost, go somewhere and burn the paper. Heal.”)
- Conflicts (such as in the family).
- Un-forgiveness (this blocks one’s pipes) and Bitterness (Please let go and let God.)
How to promote one’s mental health
- Self-care: Self-care is not selfish. Self-care is unique to each person. Invest in yourself. Exercise. Read books. Practice endurance. Keep a journal of your thoughts, experiences, and learnings. Keeping journal is not old-school. It is in fact therapeutic. Be organized. Put some structures in place in your life. Do what you enjoy. Keep serving others.
- Self-Awareness: Have a clear perception of your personality including your strength, weaknesses, beliefs, thoughts, motivation and emotions. This helps you to understand how others perceive you. Have a healthy self-image and self-confidence. Like yourself. Psalms 139:13-14 Practice saying about yourself, “This girl/guy is beautiful/handsome. I look good, the way I have been framed.”
- Be comfortable in your own skin.
- Know who you are.
- Know your habits.
- Know the triggers of your emotions.
- Everyone is unique and should be celebrated. Celebrate yourself.
- Set realistic goals with tasks one at a time.
- Do not internalize setbacks.
- Socialization: Have and nurture positive relationships. Do not isolate yourself. Through research, socialization helps us become healthier and happier. Luke 8:1-3
- Seek professional help: Seek the help of physicians, counsellor, psychologists, psychiatrist, social worker. Professional help is especially required for christians because many of us hardly ever open up.
- Supplication: Cultivate a deeper communion with God. Be vulnerable, avoid cover-ups. Isaiah 26:3.
I find these recommendations by Pastor Dada very relevant. Personally, I have an ever-increasing list of self-care items – unique activities that I utilize to care for my soul and body. How does a feel-good movie or a motivational book sound?! 💃🏽 I have shared a bunch of these in previous posts. (Please see below for related posts). Additionally, I like the idea of setting up structures and routines in my life, in areas where I can do so. I find that it brings a sense of order to my days/weeks; plus it is rather therapeutic. For instance, fellow parents, do you also have specific times when you begin bedtime routines; or the days when you prep meals/ do laundry; or specific meals you eat on some days in the week? 🙂 The other big thing for me is sometimes being vulnerable to God and a trusted few. But remember, you gotta trust the “few” because humans… humans can sometimes wag their tongues or turn mean. Wisdom is the rule of thumb.
I pray, dear reader, that God will keep your mind in perfect peace. I pray that every raging storm in your life ceases. I pray that you get lifting from every weight, relief from every discomfort, victory from all oppressions, joy in every way, and double for your troubles in Jesus’ name, Amen!
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