I think it’s important to talk about mental health. For a long time, mental health had a stigma around it, meaning that whenever it was brought up is was hushed or just treated like something you needed to just “get over.” What has happened now though, is that these stigmas are starting to break, which is a good thing. We need to be okay to talk about our struggles and in turn, get help for them. That’s what we’ll be looking at today, ways to focus your heart. Too often we forget to take care of ourselves, and I mean that from a mental perspective. You might be dealing with some struggles, old heartache, or maybe you don’t even know where these “low” feelings are coming from. It’s easy to try and brush it aside or pretend like it’s not real, but it is real. Our mental wellbeing is important, thought we don’t address it in our lives. This is coming from someone who has heavy anxiety. I’ve written about my battle before in a post I called, “My Battle with Anxiety.” That will give you some context and help you if you are dealing with this same battle, but today I want to talk about something incredibly important, addressing the problem in order to be free.
I love a good zombie flick. They are cheesy and often have a great social commentary in them, b-movies yes, but I just love them. A common trope in these films is that people get bit, it happens, ya know? Not only are they bitten, they’ll often try to hid it. We as viewers know that this is the worst idea, because of course they will turn into the flesh-eating creeps, but without fail, they somehow think it’s not going to be a big deal. What a mess! Why then do we do the same in our own lives? We feel our heads getting cloudy, emotions begin to go crazy, and we find ourselves sinking lower and lower. Yet, in those moments, we don’t seek out help. Our hearts get broken and we just let it continue to break.
I was going to title this, “fix your heart,” but that implies that we can fix our hearts. The truth is, we can’t fix our hearts, we can only focus our hearts.
Remain in the love of the Father.
We need to make sure we are focusing our heart on what truly matters. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress and business of life, and when we get to these moments we tend to just retreat to ourselves. What we need to do is go to scripture, gain life from it and be wise with our time. When you are continually giving of yourself and not being filled, this is when breakdowns and burnouts happen. Scripture is a love story written to you. It encourages and empowers us no matter what season we may be experiencing. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” We need to be connected to sources that give us life, when a plant is not connected to the root, it dies. Don’t let yourself slip away from the source of life, even in the midst of anxiety and depression, God is welcoming you into his presence. Enter into that love and receive all that God is waiting to empower you with.
Remember to invest in yourself.
When dealing with mental health, I always see the solutions as two parts; connecting with God and having good self-care. This second part is incredibly important, yet we often choose to not think about ourselves. Maybe it feels like we’re being selfish, or someone has said you are being selfish. That’s a lie, you need to take care of your well-being, even if it inconveniences someone’s plans. What do I mean? I mean having time to sleep instead of being pressured to go out. It means drinking water and having rest. It means doing something you love and spending time with people who encourage you. It means seeking counseling and talking out the emotions going on inside your mind. It means putting up safe boundaries in your life.
Last year I had to decide about boundaries. I was having severe anxiety because of my job, I was expected to be ready to do whatever it took, but that became dangerous. Late night calls, never having an off day, having to stay quiet when someone was being rude to me. I decided it was time to be safe. I put on “do not disturb” mode on my phone at nine every night (still do), so that I did not keep checking my phone and feeling the need to always have it. I chose to have a weekend, and say no when it came to not having time with my wife and to do the things that I love. I chose to never let people walk over me, I will respectfully end conversation where lies are being spoken over me as well as choose to cut out gossip. If we don’t put safe boundaries in our lives, people will push you more than you ever thought.
I love you. God loves you. There are people that have your back. I don’t know who needs to hear that. I know there are many of you that aren’t sure about this whole relationship with Jesus thing, and maybe that’s because someone has hurt you using God’s word, but I want you to know that I’m here for you. I’ll fight with you. But more important, God is with you. God has already won. It’s time to start knowing that you are loved and that you can love yourself.
I started talking about zombie movies, movies that are really bleak and don’t have a lot of hope. Maybe you are in a bleak season and don’t have much hope. Trust me when I say this, I understand. What you are feeling, the emotions and thoughts in your head, are all very real…but they are not what defines you. You are the most beautiful thing in God’s creation. The most wonderful sunset and the view from the tallest mountain peak does not compare to the creation of you. You are made in God’s image, and that means that you are worthy of great love and hold great power. So meditate in scripture, the love letter written to you, and choose to take care of yourself so that the enemy has no place in your thoughts.
You might not have it all together, I don’t have it all together, but there is always hope. You are beautiful. You are loved. You are God’s chosen. Focus your heart on the source of this truth, and don’t let your mind hide in negative thoughts. Choose to get help and go to the one who loves you unceasingly.
About the Author: Joshua Thomas is a writer by day and superhero by night. When he’s not writing and crimefighting, you can find him reading a good book, sipping warm tea, taking pictures, or dreaming. The young writer doesn’t fully know what he’s doing, but is enjoying the journey of it all. You can tweet memes at him on Twitter @joshua_thomas__ or follow his hipster photos and Jack Kerouac musings on Instagram @joshua_thomas__