Faith and mental health…can they even exist in the same sentence?
What’s faith got to do with your mental wellness?
Early on in my faith, I struggled to reconcile the difference between what the world was saying was good for my health and what I was learning on Sundays.
Fast-forward through three college degrees and many years later, when it finally clicked just how little my faith had to do with my mental wellness.
At the same time, I knew my faith and mental health had everything to do with each other.
It’s not as bad as it seems.
I’m Jace Draper from FaithandEmotions.com and I am here to share these five reasons why our emotional well being can be impacted in every way and no way at all by our faith:
- It doesn’t take a certain measure of faith
- Just because you have it, doesn’t mean it will help
- We need to go all-in to take care of our wellbeing
- Faith has its benefits
- Bottom line: your focus matters most
Faith and Mental Health: Do you have “enough faith”?
From that new Christian at the retreat to someone in a faith rut, to Charles Spurgeon, regardless of how much faith you are exercising, emotions can feel like fighting a never-ending battle.
Here’s the truth…
Faith has nothing to do with your brain being able to produce the perfect chemical cocktail for a happy life.
In other words, many people struggle with mental health despite having a strong faith.
Your brain doesn’t care how much faith you have. It may still send mixed signals. Or it may still have limitations.
The bottom line is that what is happening physically in your body and brain is a separate issue from your faith and spirituality.
Brains produce chemicals or they don’t, and they work without us telling them to-which has nothing to do with our faith.
This automated process of your brain is what is keeping you alive.
It is also what is creating those emotions. You don’t have to tell yourself how to feel. Your brain has that down on autopilot (whether it’s working properly or not).
You do have to exercise your mind to take action whenever you are feeling whatever you are feeling.
Read that again.
I’ll say it in another way…
It is your responsibility to work out your mind by taking action whenever you are experiencing your emotions.
This is where faith can take an important role in your facing emotional turmoil.
So if you can use faith to help you cope, the question is whether the amount of faith you have has anything to do with the outcome of your battle with mental wellness?
More Faith May Not Equal More Mental Health
Some people who completely trust in God and are walking in total faith, still struggle with their mental health.
Faith does play an intricate role in developing and maintaining mental wellness…
But no amount of living out your faith (ie: praying a certain number of times, reading a certain number of verses, going to church, etc.) will produce guaranteed results.
A Biblical Example
King Solomon comes to this conclusion in Ecclesiastes.
It is quite a depressing read, until the end. He is known as the wisest man, and as he talks about every facet of life he understands that everything is vanity.
In summary, he explains that there is no trustworthy formula for living life and having it come out a specific way.
If you have a lot of faith and do a lot of good, you can still end up facing struggles that don’t easily, or completely go away (including internal struggles of the mind and heart).
King Solomon finishes his writing with these golden words, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
While the amount of faith you have has nothing to do with guaranteeing you a certain outcome, it can very well still have everything to do with your battle for mental wellness.
For more practical applications of biblical solutions for your everyday emotions, go here to kick start your mental wellness with our free step by step guide.
Using Faith To Improve Wellbeing
Aligning your thinking with your faith values improves your emotional wellbeing.
Even though having faith may not help you completely overcome emotional distress, your faith can still play a big part in your wellbeing.
Your wellbeing takes an “all hands on deck” approach to keep up. When your thinking is off in the weeds-it can be pretty damaging to your emotional wellbeing. When you work to keep your thinking aligned with your faith values, however, you will take care of your feelings as a result.
Our minds take work to manage, but it is so worth the effort!
One of the easiest ways to start doing this necessary work is by figuring out what your values are and what capital “T” truths you can stand firm on.
By using your faith as a firm foundation for your mindset goals, you can quickly challenge any contrary thinking as well as find some stability in the emotional storms.
For example, if my thinking tells me that I have no value, there is no good in life, my Truths point me to the fact that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that there is goodness despite how dark things get.
These Truths argue my thoughts for me, and give me something to hold on to while I am wading through the emotions that come and go.
As you continue to practice directing your thoughts, it becomes easier.
So here’s the plan:
- Define your faith values and the capital “T” truths
- Have these Truths at the ready (print them out, save them on your phone, write them in a journal)
- Call yourself out when your thinking starts to stray from what is True and threatens to take down your mental wellness
- Practice directing your thoughts away from the untrue and negative sinkholes, and towards your Truths. This will take time and effort. It is only natural to keep thinking about everything that went wrong or didn’t happen that day. You are working on balance. Maybe today went completely wrong, but your Truths should be so that they are not changed because of circumstances for such a time as this.
By following this plan, you can set yourself up for success in balancing your emotions by setting your mind on positive and helpful things that align with your faith and values.
Combining Your Faith and Mental Health Has Its Benefits
By incorporating your faith into your struggles, you can really fuel your success in achieving mental wellness. Balancing your emotions through training your mind is a huge way of positively coping with stress and overwhelm and your faith values are an easy, and often solid, place to start.
This is not new information.
Incorporating faith is involved in many research-based programs for battling serious issues in the mental health world like addiction, grief, and anxiety and depression.
Why do all of these programs incorporate faith in their systems?
Simply put, faith has everything to do with grounding our perspective in something that is outside of us.
When there is a governing source we can look to, it is foundational to meeting the needs that are not only ever-changing, but completely beyond our capacity to maintain. This includes our mental wellness.
Sometimes? Things Just Suck
Because sometimes, lovely, things just suck.
Things happen that completely take us down and we aren’t always given time to recover on our own the way we would hope to.
Frankly, our faith and mental health are at stake every single day.
The world strives to help with our daily survival (hello “you do you” and “just breathe” and all the other movements out there for self-care). You’re here not just because you want to survive, though.
You are here because you’re looking for ways to thrive. You’re tired of being stuck in a never ending pit and you just want something to work already.
Your wellness journey has everything to do with faith and has nothing but gain to get from it.
Faith and mental wellness go together and become a superpower.
Faith and Mental Health: The Bottom Line
Your focus is what matters most when it comes to mental wellness.
If there is one thing you can make the central focus in your wellness journey-it needs to be faith.
Faith and mental health work hand in hand, helping you cope with the worst of days.
We are about all the things these days, am I right? The trouble is, no one can sustain all of the things.
I know I’m not the only one struggling to maintain even two things going on at once-let alone the five I “need” to be getting done right now.
So, what then?
If you’re going to choose one thing for not only your emotional wellness, but your whole health, I want to encourage you to start with one thing and keep it front and center.
Wherever you fix your eyes is where your entire self follows.
Remember that plan I talked about earlier?
Maybe it’s that for you.
Or, maybe you focus on that ONE Truth and hold on to it-repeating it again and again each step you take and every trouble you encounter today.
Maybe it’s your breath. Maybe you do need to pare life down into the simplicity of a single breath at a time for the sake of your sanity.
Your faith and mental wellness have both everything and nothing at all to do with one another.
But your focus is going to be essential to how you cope, and it takes faith to believe in that.
You are a survivor. There’s a good quote going around on the internet, “you’ve survived 100% of your days so far.” That’s an excellent success rate. Faith has everything to do with getting you to the next moment, and then the next, and then the next.
So Keep Looking to Him, lovely,