I can tell you the exact moment my mental health shifted for the first time in my life (not including the hazy days after delivering babies). It was 20 months ago when my oldest decided to stop taking naps.
Before this point, naps were gold mines for doing whatever I needed to recenter depending on the day: a long shower in deep thought, sleep, devotions, lunch, on occasion all the things...and sometimes just staring at a wall (silence is golden).
When I lost that time to myself I struggled (still struggle) hard core with figuring out how to collect my thoughts when I am never alone. Prioritizing time with God (you know, the ultimate form of rest) suffered big time and I found myself choosing things to numb myself over Him.
Mental health can take a serious hit when your mind, body and soul never find true rest.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t feel like I have answers. There are no big epiphanies of how I finally pulled it all together. I have been reading all these posts on rest here for my own self help and inspiration. I am not at a point where I have found a rhythm of what/when/how I need to be fully at rest in the Lord looks like, no matter what the circumstances are around me.
I think the most mental clarity I have found recently is implementing a 15 minute Biblical meditation podcast called Encounter (more info below). Just to stop and breathe in Jesus for 15 minutes.
I don’t know about you, but to sit and feel His presence even for 30 seconds can change my entire outlook on life and put a jumpstart in my day. That alone has shifted my gears into being more intentional about where my mind is at.
It may sound hippy or crunchy, but meditation has a way of centering you. I believe there is something to the fact that the word meditate is used the most in the book of Psalms out of any other chapter in the Bible. The book dedicated entirely to just praising God.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he MEDITATES day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”
Psalms 1:1-3 ESV
That’s me and that’s my start. It’s only 15 minutes a day but that feels attainable to me right now with the energy I have.
If you are implementing a new routine to find stillness in God, don’t be discouraged if takes time to find what works for you. My advice to you (and inner me) is to start small and grow from there. Give yourself grace. The fact that you are even here reading this means something.
Just take it one day at a time, one step at a time. Something is better than nothing.
(If you need some resources for bettering your mental health, I have listed a few below)
I realize that I only hit 2 millimeters off the tip of the iceberg compared to what a lot of people have suffered personally or due to loved ones. However, it has raised my attention to the importance of taking our mental health seriously. Every human can benefit from a recurring mental check. REST is immensely valuable because it is a big piece of the complex mental puzzle.
When was the last time you took your foot off the gas and just slowed down? What did life look like? Have you taken a step back and reexamined how you attain stillness in the midst of your day? Even in chaos?
If life circumstances take peace away from you or if what once gave you rest does not anymore, it is time to reassess instead of playing victim.
To be more aware of (YES) how you are feeling and HOW YOUR HEART IS.
Reach out for help if you need to. There is NO shame in counseling to better yourself or asking friends to keep you accountable.
I wish I had. I am the type that tries to keep it all together for everyone around me and pacifying my own needs verse getting to the root of my issues (we all have them) in order to get through my list of ‘to dos’. I ended up feeling like a failure because I could not give anything in my life the attention it deserved.
How can you fully be who you are called to be if you have forgotten who you are and what your needs are? How can you pour into others if you are empty? YES, the answer is Jesus and YES that requires resting in Him. Not periodically but PERSISTENTLY.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 ESV
We change in every season as a response to our circumstances. Therefore our needs and how we rest in His holy presence can change too.
Just pick your head up every once and awhile and ask yourself “how is my heart” and respond to what that answer is.
Or visit their website to listen:
Mental Health Resources
Oliver Counseling (Marriage)
Sarah Claire Smith
Guided Mindfulness Sessions by Joie Schmitz