This is the first post in a six-part series about the life changing impact of mental wellness support in the church.
As director of the Vibrant Life Ministry (VLM) at RMCC, it is my privilege to witness the power of faith, community and practical strategies working together.
Unfortunately, after a year of pandemic restrictions and tension, the number of individuals struggling with mental health is rising. It is more important now than ever to be diligent in applying these four key components of mental wellness:
1. Abiding in Christ
2. A healthy lifestyle
3. Quality social connection
4. Taking thoughts captive
1. The foundation of abiding in Christ
Scripture teaches us that we need to build our lives upon Christ; He is the only sure, solid foundation. “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 3:11)
This explains why mental wellness support in a church setting can be so fruitful – it starts with the solid bedrock of Jesus. As we study the Word, learn Biblical truth and grow closer to the Lord we have the right frame of reference for the many issues that come up in life.
Next week I’ll explore the many ways faith impacts mental wellness, as well as looking at some of the potential pitfalls.
2. The importance of a healthy lifestyle
It turns out that our moms are exactly right in telling us to eat well, get fresh air and exercise and make sure we get enough sleep. (Of course, being a mom myself I’m not biased or anything!)
This component doesn’t sound modern, techy or scientific. It also takes – *sigh* – quite a bit of effort. Yet these basics provide the crucial elements our bodies and brains need.
The reality is that when we live life the way God designed us to live it, our bodies (and brains) maintain themselves amazingly well.
It’s not a coincidence that we have simultaneous epidemics of obesity, diabetes, depression and anxiety. Research shows these conditions have numerous underlying hormonal imbalances in common.
More on the science of this, as well as powerful lifehacks, later in this series.
3. Social connection
During this past year we’ve all discovered that isolation is hard. We’re designed for relationship and connection – with God, and with others.
Yet true connection, where we’re authentic about who we are and how we feel, can be difficult. We’re tempted to put on the ‘happy Christian face’ in an effort to conceal our doubts, fears and struggles; to act like we’ve got it all together (or, as the saying goes, that we have ‘all our poop in a group’).
However, satisfying connection requires intimacy, intimacy requires trust and trust requires vulnerability. As any of us who’ve experienced rejection or manipulation by others can attest to, it’s risky to be vulnerable!
This is why Scripture exhorts us to guard our hearts. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. (Prov 4:23).
If you’re not sure how to develop healthy relationships or have repeatedly experienced relationships with strain or broken trust, consider taking the upcoming VLM Boundaries Bible study. It starts April 7th, so check it out now at this link.
4. Taking thoughts captive
We’re exhorted repeatedly in Scripture to hold our thoughts captive (2 Cor 10:5), to meditate on the positive in our lives (Phil 4: 8) and to renew the spirit of our minds (Eph 4:23). Obviously, God knows we are susceptible to negative thoughts!
Science has shown that our thoughts become physical substances in the brain. And while all of us have negative thought patterns from living in a fallen world, we also have new baby nerve cells born every day (neurogenesis) and the ability to think and choose so that we can actually ‘re-wire’ our brain circuitry (neuroplasticity).
Being rooted in the Word of God is critical! We can be reassured by the truth – given to us in the Bible before scientists ever ‘discovered’ it – that we can be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Rom 12:2).
So how can I access mental wellness support in the church?
Our monthly Conquerors session and ongoing Wellness Webinars provide great information and practical strategies on the topics mentioned above. Webinars are also recorded – so register even if you can’t join us for the live session.
If you’re having a hard time coping, feeling stressed out and anxious, or if you’re stuck in a brain fog and persistent low mood, consider taking our 10-week Mood Mastery workshop starting April 20th. In this small group we learn and apply the principles of mental wellness in community. Besides digging deep into lifestyle, we share lots of tips, suggestions and “how-to’s” on changing harmful thought patterns.
Check out the upcoming sessions and register at this link.
Feel free to contact me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are you going to do to improve your mental wellness today?
Magda Czegledi has a unique perspective on mental health issues as a result of her experience as a family doctor, a family member and as a patient. While experiencing a depression so severe she had to leave her family practice, she later recovered through a combination of her growing faith in Christ and basic lifestyle change. Currently, Magda works as a speaker, small group facilitator and peer support trainer.