Our whole body reacts to our emotional state. Having control over our emotions helps us have control over our actions and behaviors and puts us in a better place to handle life’s endless challenges. Improving our emotional and mental health or even maintaining good emotional and mental health is essential for experiencing life to it’s fullest and helps us cope with the inevitable tough situations in our life. It also helps us have better relationships, build resiliency (the ability to bounce back after facing a difficult situation), and helps us experience joy, happiness, and a good attitude about life, overall.
An important component to mental and emotional health is to have a sense of belonging within a family, group, and/or community and to experience loving relationships. That doesn’t mean there won’t be conflict. There most certainly will be since they are human, but good emotional/mental health will never mean perfect or near perfect. A picture of good emotional and mental health involves good conflict resolution.
Having a relationship God and frequent prayer is important for good emotional and mental health. Scientific research confirms that people who belong to a faith community or who hold religious/spiritual beliefs, have better mental health and it plays a significant role in protecting people from mental health issues. New scientific research shows us that our emotions actually control how our genes work. So if we entertain negative thoughts that make us angry and we continue to allow our mind to think about similar thoughts for a while our body can turn on genes that cause disease. However, if we think positive thoughts that evoke feelings of love, kindness, caring, forgiveness, and/or servitude, our body can turn on genes that are disease reversing and health promoting. It’s amazing how God made our physical bodies to respond to the experiences in life as he designed us to, i.e. including loving, caring, and forgiving (ourselves and others).
When we are stressed out, our body releases the hormone, cortisol, which helps us cope with stressful situations, and that is fine unless it goes on too long, which will take a toll on our mind and body. Emotional health is the way we feel about things, people, places, work, etc. and how we cope with our emotions. Emotional health is at it’s best when we have control over our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Challenges to our mental and emotional health may include:
- Some relationships: Could be a co-dependent relationship, parental or care taker relationship, poor attachment or connection to an adult during early childhood, or one that involves or is an adolescent
- A Lack of Emotionally Connecting with Others
- Trauma: From an early childhood experience, accident, fire or an incident that caused PTSD
- Losses: Death of a significant person (especially early in life) or relationship
- Physical or Emotional Abuse: From a trusted person or perpetrator
- Illness: Chronic or disabling
- Substance Abuse/Use
- Other Addictions: Most commonly are addictions to gambling, food, video games, internet, sex, pornography, shopping, and work.
Childhood traumas, abuse, neglect, or other issues can set someone up for life with mental and emotional challenges even after they have gotten their life well ordered. Freedom can be found in Christ, who has said we are precious to the God who created the universe and everything in it (Ephesians 5:2, Psalm 136:26, Romans 8:32 & 38-39, Isaiah 54:17, 11 scriptures that say “His love endures forever,” and others).
I have talked with people who have had childhood trauma where there is a lot of healing that needs to take place so that life can improve. One woman I spoke with was able to reveal her feelings about this, and unlocked her ability to love and care for herself in a healthier way. It seemed she was unaware of the block there since her fundamental self worth was brought low in her younger years. In her case, she began to not only care for her emotional and mental health but also her nutritional health (everything is tied together), which resulted in her improved self esteem and weight loss. She did the work, while I just guided and educated her during our time together.
Just to clarify, I am not a doctor, a therapist, a psychologist, or any other type of mental or emotional specialist who is qualified to deal with severe mental or emotional issues. I have a Masters Degree in Health Education, a certification as a health coach, and a certificate verifying my training in motivational interviewing, a technique used to help people help themselves. The training I have helps me to help people holistically by helping them help themselves move forward by opening up, sharing, reflecting, learning, and experimenting with new ways of living that serve them better. That will look very different for every single person.
It’s important to be kind and loving toward yourself, as you are a precious child of God.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul, and health to the body.