20-simple-ways-to-keep-your-mental-health-in-check
Boys and Men,  Community,  Family,  Friends

20 Simple Ways To Keep Your Mental Health In Check

AN UNHEALTHY MIND

This morning I awoke with a sensation I haven’t felt in a while.

My brain didn’t feel right.

I had neglected to keep my mental health in check.

My central nervous system was out of whack.

While my body was strong, my mind was not.

I recognized the symptoms right away, for I have been battling them off and on for years.

**This post contains affiliate links.

My mind was not happy, and it was about to show me how unhealthy it was with an onslaught of undesirable symptoms:

 

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Flashing lights
  • Overstimulation
  • Uncontrollable twitching
  • A feeling of hopelessness

 

MAKING MENTAL HEALTH CARE A PRIORITY

Our society focuses on physical health, but what I’ve learned over time is that the health of the mind is just as important as the health of the body.

Fortunately, there are things we can do on a daily basis to help keep our mental health in check.

 

Several months ago I began a routine of exercising daily, eating more nutritious foods, getting more sleep, spending time in nature, and connecting with others in more meaningful ways.

Looking back, those months were the best I’ve had in a long time.

I felt happy, healthy, and connected because I was caring for both my mind and my body.

 

Because I was feeling so amazing, it became easy for me to let my good habits slide.

Suddenly, I found myself sitting for long hours in front of the computer due to some projects I was working on.

I was no longer exercising.

Eating was no longer a priority.

And I spent zero time outdoors, and too little time with others.

 

GETTING BACK ON TRACK

Fast forward to today.

My brain was giving me warning signals.

And, this time, I was listening loud and clear.

I needed to tend to my mental health–beginning today!

Rather than beginning my day in the typical rushed way, I got out of bed, turned on some soothing music, made some chamomile tea, and did some stretches, followed by some deep breathing exercises.

 

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

 

Before church, I pulled out a notebook and made a list of mental health care ideas that I can incorporate into my daily schedule:

 

 

Some ideas I can incorporate daily, others only a few times a week or a month, but I’ve learned from experience that doing them on a regular basis makes all the difference when it comes to the state of my health—both physical and mental.

 

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

 

 

THE RECOVERY PERIOD

Today, with my mind feeling overstimulated, I wasn’t sure I would be able to attend church.

When my mind is not healthy, it is difficult for me to be around other people, to listen to talks and chatter and miscellaneous noises coming from all directions.

Perhaps you can relate.

Taking a few minutes for self-care this morning, however, seemed to make a big difference, so I thought I might be able to make it through two hours of church meetings if I could just take my crochet project with me.

You see, my crochet project was my cow.

Let me explain.

 

Have you ever heard the story of the Cambodian antidepressant?

 

As the 21st century was beginning, a South African psychiatrist named Derek Summerfield happened to be in Cambodia conducting some research on the psychological effects of unexploded land mines — at a time when chemical antidepressants were first being marketed in the country.

The local doctors didn’t know much about these drugs, so they asked Summerfield to explain them. When he finished, they explained that they didn’t need these new chemicals — because they already had antidepressants. Puzzled, Summerfield asked them to explain, expecting that they were going to tell him about some local herbal remedy. Instead, they told him about something quite different.

The doctors told Summerfield a story about a farmer they had treated. He worked in the water-logged rice fields, and one day he stepped on a land mine and his leg was blasted off. He was fitted with an artificial limb, and in time he went back to work. But it’s very painful to work when your artificial limb is underwater, and returning to the scene of his trauma must have made him highly anxious. The farmer became deeply depressed.

So the doctors and his neighbors sat with this man and talked through his life and his troubles. They realized that even with his new artificial limb, his old job — working in the paddies — was just too difficult, that he was constantly stressed and in physical pain, and that these things combined to make him want to just stop living. His interlocutors had an idea.

They suggested that he work as a dairy farmer, a job that would place less painful stress on his false leg and produce fewer disturbing memories. They believed he was perfectly capable of making the switch. So they bought him a cow. In the months and years that followed, his life changed. His depression, once profound, lifted. The Cambodian doctors told Summerfield: “You see, doctor, the cow was an analgesic, and antidepressant.” 1

 

mental-health

 

WHAT IS YOUR “COW”?

At certain times in our lives, we each have a “cow”—something that will fill an unmet need in our life, resulting in a decrease of mental health issues.

Sometimes we need people to band around us, to listen to us, support us, and try to determine what our “cow” is, like the man in this story.

Other times, we already know what our “cow” is—i.e. what we need to resolve the pain (the unmet need) inside.

While sometimes the “cow” includes chemical antidepressants, in addition to lifestyle changes, sometimes the “cow” is simply a change in lifestyle (i.e. habits and attitudes).

 

Today my mind needed to rest and heal.

My crochet project was my “cow” because crocheting has a way of calming my mind.

So there I was, at church with yarn and hook in hand, listening to the incredible talks and presentations—grateful that I had had the courage to tend to my mental health and bring my crochet project with me to church, rather than to stay home and miss the wonderful spirit of the meetings.

Sometimes my crocheting in public embarrasses my children.

Today, I was so moved by the fact that my daughter, rather than acting embarrassed, carefully unraveled the yarn for me each time I needed more.

She seemed to understand that this was my “cow”, and was there to give me any support she could.

 

We need more people like that in our lives.

I need to be that for more people in my life.

 

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

 

IT’S TIME TO KEEP YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IN CHECK

This week, my children and I will be discussing what we can do on a daily basis to care for our minds.

Then, I will be visiting with a friend, playing more games with my kids, spending time outdoors, reading a good book, soaking in a bubble bath, and eating more fruits and vegetables.

Why? So I can lead by example.

Because if parents don’t teach these lifesaving skills to their children in the home, who will?

 

 

There is no shame in discussing the health of the mind, so let’s do it more often, and more openly, shall we?!

Perhaps the first step is to ask yourself, “What’s my ‘cow’?”

 

JOIN THE DISCUSSION: How do you keep your mental health in check? How are you teaching your children to do the same?

 

 

If you found this post encouraging, please share it on social media. Thank you!

 

Currently linking up with other bloggers here.

 

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter!

* indicates required

 



 

20-Simple-Ways-To-Keep-Your-Mental-Health-In-Check1

16 Comments

  • Jana

    I love the story of the cow. I hadn’t heard it before. Your post has reminded me of some of the areas I’ve become lax in – important things I need to do to keep me functioning optimally. Thanks for the reminder!

  • christa sterken

    Your beautiful article filled my eyes with tears…because after a COMPLETE summer of feeling loss, as if fireworks were going off in my head, your story parallels mine in a way that I’ve been unable to explain. I am finding similar answers too. Thank you SOOO very much for writing this particular post becuase I needed it, and God knew it ♥

    • Down Aspen Lane

      Thank you for sharing your own personal experience, Christa. It’s such a gift to know that God has not forgotten us and that we don’t endure tough times alone. Blessings to you and yours…

  • Lori Ferguson

    This post – and your story – is SO needed. We all might be aware that our minds are shifting in ways which are not healthy, but the idea of how to help ourselves may feel just out-of-reach!

    And finding our “cow”… LOVE the idea!

    I’ve been using 30/31 day personal challenges to take care of my mind. It’s an interesting process to give yourself something to take action on over a short period of time – there’s an intense feeling of satisfaction when completed! And if I’m realistic on what I can do (talking this over with my husband and family helps keep me realistic 😉 ) then these little challenges become a way to boost my head, heart and health! I think we all can manage a little something over 31 days….

    Thank you for your article and story – sharing it will be a joy!

    • Down Aspen Lane

      Lori, I enjoyed reading your 31 Challenge post and was so inspired by your blog that I subscribed. Thanks for encouraging more positivity in our world! I look forward to challenging myself to become better in all I do.

  • Kristi Woods

    Carri, I envisioned you with needle and partially finished project in hand, your daughter sitting alongside and helping. What a beautiful picture of love and kindness. Our mental health is paramount. I’ve battled depression. It’s no joke. I’m thankful we serve a God who leads us triumphantly…and with cows, too. 🙂

  • Rebecca Jones

    Sometimes rest is as easy as changing what you do, And I do love to sleep more. I always enjoy the sunlight and I often step out to look at the stars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: