Some thoughts on Self-Care

The best form of mental health treatment is prevention, agreed?

I am a firm believer that one of the best forms of self-care is setting boundaries with our time and one mode of anxiety prevention is utilizing solid time management skills.

A common theme I hear from patients is that they are overwhelmed with their long to-do list. From work to home to kids to relationships to exercise/nutrition to socializing to hobbies, it’s hard to fit everything in and lead a balance life. (Mental health professionals are sometimes the worst examples of how to live a balanced life!). We wear ‘busy’ as a badge of honor, yet setting poor boundaries with our time and a chronically unbalanced life can leave us feeling unfulfilled, stagnant, and weary.

When we feel this way, it’s natural to crave relief. Relief can take many forms - a mental health day off work, a massage and facial, a couple episodes of our favorite show on Netflix, happy hour with co-workers, or a big bowl of Graeter’s. If we’re not careful, we can take our relief techniques and turn them into maladaptive coping mechanisms.

Consider these tips when it comes to self-care through setting boundaries with our time:

Learn when it’s appropriate to say “no thanks” or “maybe next time” to an invitation. Rehearse ahead of time the answer you will give when you are invited to an event or activity that you know will drain you, or will make you feel overwhelmed.

Keep the long-term in mind. Doing something that makes you feel good in the moment (spending spree!) but that will make you feel stressed later (overdrawn bank account!) is NOT true self-care.

Make a list of the 3 most important areas of your life. What are your passions? What are your priorities? What are your goals? From this point on, when you get an invitation for your time - if it doesn’t fall into one of those 3 areas, give yourself permission to say ‘no.’ Feed your passion with your time.

Let’s create a life of buffer and care for ourselves through healthy choices in how we spend our time.

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Anxiety and Faith

I had fun teaching a short class at my church on the topic of Anxiety and Faith.

I think Christians are pretty reluctant to seek mental health treatment. Why? Because somewhere along the line we were taught, either by church leaders or other Christians, that if we would just PRAY enough, or TRUST enough, or have enough FAITH, that God would heal us and formal mental health treatment shouldn’t be necessary.

The issue with this ideology is that when the healing doesn’t come, the insinuation is WE AREN’T WORTHY OF HEALING or that we are broken beyond repair or that God has left us. Seeking mental health treatment is then equated with failure.

Here’s another way of putting it:

“The absence of objective tests to unequivocally establish the presence of mental health conditions has led many church leaders to question the validity of mental health diagnoses … which attributes the presence of mental illness to personal sin.” Stephen Grcevich, MD.

This kick-starts a cycle of shame.

Anxiety is an emotion, not a sin.

HOWEVER, when uncontrolled I feel that anxiety can lead us to sin in the form of maladaptive coping skills.

Excessive Drinking.

Out-of-control shopping.

Affairs.

Basically anything we turn to for comfort and relief instead of God.

Anxiety drives a wedge between us and our creator.

Anxiety is a tactic from the enemy, a tool he uses to cause separation.

WE CANNOT LET ANXIETY WIN.

We must suffocate it, interrupt it, stomp it out.

In the next blog, I’ll share tips on how we can use our faith to combat our anxiety.

Stay tuned friends!

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