The #1 Way to Stay Mentally Healthy

I attend a ladies Bible study each week on Tuesday mornings.  It’s a good opportunity to get out of the house, to let my daughter interact with other children and other caretakers, and it’s a wonderful time of spiritual learning/growing for me.  Since I have experience in teaching music, I was asked to lead the singing for the group, and I was also asked to be a group leader at my table, where I lead the discussion based on the questions in the material.  I really enjoy the time away from my daughter, I love the ladies in my group, and I like absorbing other people’s experiences about the topics we are studying.

There was a time when I couldn’t say I was happy about going.

There were many weeks when I just didn’t want to go.  I’ll just be honest.  I didn’t have the time to plan out which songs we were going to sing, and I sure didn’t have time to sit down and read through the lesson well enough to lead others to critical thinking!  For two months, I quit going and abandoned my responsibilities to the group.  (There were some physical roadblocks that aided that, but I was relieved when I had a good excuse to quit going.)

After we got our car fixed and I could get out of the house at will again, I jumped at the chance to participate.  Now, several weeks later, because I know how much it encourages me, I look forward to going and actually plan time to review the lesson and the songs before Tuesday morning arrives.  Planning is half the battle, so when I am prepared, I feel relaxed and ready to lead, instead of feeling stressed and unwilling to use my talents.

I’m glad I’m not that person anymore.

In the first article since my overhaul, I laid out what my healthy goals were – staying physically active, eating healthy foods, and maintaining good mental health.  Today, 3 months after the new year began, I can say that in each area, I have succeeded sometimes and failed at other times.

Above is a prime example of my victory over poor mental health.  The times I was relieved when I didn’t have to participate in the Bible study were times when I felt drained, like I was just giving, giving, giving of myself and not getting much back in return.  It’s hard to keep others afloat when you are sinking.   Click here to tweet this

In looking back on that time, I also realize I was battling mild depression about a friendship that wasn’t meeting my expectations.  Again, it was a mental health issue but it affected my physical health in many ways.  I had a hard time getting out of bed in the mornings.  Any free time I had, I wanted to sleep.  I began eating more comfort food than normal – breads, etc. – which meant that I put on a few pounds.  Those extra pounds contributed to my low self-esteem, and on and on the cycle went.

I’m really glad I’m not that person any more.

In the Bible study lesson this week, we discussed how God commanded the Israelites to set up altars as memorials to remember the ways He moved in their lives.  What kinds of markers do we have in our own lives today?

Journaling is my marker.  It’s my way of looking back at a picture of myself.  It’s my way of remembering how God brought me through whatever trial I was facing.  It’s my way of remembering the lesson I learned from that trial.

Journaling is my way of staying mentally healthy.  The times I keep a journal are the times I feel the best.  I can write my thoughts down without showing them to anyone, and I can identify what is really bothering me.  I wrote a post about it a while back – you can find it here.

Next time you feel like something’s just not right, or when you fly off the handle at the littlest thing, try taking a few minutes to write in a journal of some sort.  It will help you sort out your feelings and discover the underlying cause (is it the wasted food you’re crying about, or is it the fact that you haven’t slept a full 8 hours for more than a week and you have a sinus headache?).  I used to use Penzu, a free online journaling website.  Now, I just create a new document on my computer.  I even keep a small notebook beside my bed so I can write down anything that is bothering me at bedtime.  I usually have weird dreams if something is on my mind at bedtime.

I hope this is helpful to you, reader.  I’m just a fellow traveler on this journey toward good mental health.

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