As a young adult, I watched as mental health affected the marriage and life of family members. I wondered how anyone could marry someone that had mental health issues. What I didn’t know at the time was that I would do exactly that. 14 years ago, I married my best friend. Little did I know how mental health would affect our marriage and what was coming around the corner? Today, I want to share with you 7 ways to improve your mental health.
My Husband’s story
Before I share 7 ways to improve your mental health, I want to share a bit of my husband’s story.
In the fall of 2011, my husband experienced his first severe panic attack. We didn’t know what it was or what had caused it.
Friends invited my husband and me to a birthday party. That same day, my husband had made a slight error at work. While at the party, my husband couldn’t keep himself from worrying about the mistake he made.
That worry soon became panic, and he started having a hard time breathing.
Thankfully, a friend noticed my husband’s behaviour and sat him down. Our friend had recently recovered from his own mental health crisis and so knew that my husband needed help.
Our friend not only helped my husband out of his panic attack, but he was the one to tell us what this was and insisted on connecting my husband to a counsellor.
Because of that discussion, we started our road to recovery.
I am convinced that it was God who caused my husband to have a panic attack at that party so that our friend could see and intervene.
I truly believe that without that party, there would have been a completely different ending to this story.
God had heard my prayers and sent us help exactly when we needed it.
I share this with you so you know that God hears. He loves you and wants to help you. If you are too stubborn (like me) to seek help on your own, then I urge you to pray.
You may not know what you are praying for, and you may not like how The Lord answers, but God hears, and He loves you very much.
7 simple ways to improve your mental health
If you’re like me, the idea of facing mental health in your marriage, or any other relationship seems scary.
But it doesn’t have to be.
There are things you can do to improve your mental health and ways you can be ready to face it.
1. Educate Yourself
My husband and I grew up in the 80s when mental health was still taboo and misunderstood. Because of that, schools and our parents never taught us about mental health and what it may look like.
This was also a time when mental health was never discussed in church. People mostly faced these issues with quick remarks about not having enough faith and to not worry about tomorrow. Neither of these solutions seemed to “fix” our issue.
What I have realized is that the first step to overcoming mental health is to educate yourself.
To know what mental health looks like, it’s important to know what mental health is.
Some knowledge will come through personal experience. You can also learn about mental health by talking to people you know about mental health and reading as much as you can about it.
Thankfully, today, we live in a society that knows more about mental health and has created more support for it.
I have even found that more Christians are willing to discuss their struggles.
All these positive changes make it so much easier to learn about mental health and prepare us for when we may be facing it. Either with our own struggles or with the struggles of people we love.
2. Notice Red Flags
When I first met my husband, I learned pretty quickly that he did not do well under pressure.
When we got married, I soon learned that he would sometimes feel unwell, not willing to go out and be with people, and would sometimes get irritated.
These are all pretty common in all of our lives, and so I thought little of them.
What I didn’t realize was that they were all signals he wasn’t doing well and that his mental health was going down the wrong track.
When someone has mental health problems, it shows in their behaviour and mood. If you aren’t looking clearly, then you may not realize it.
The best example I can give is remembering your children when they were babies.
When a baby is hungry, it cries. When it’s tired, it cries.
Adults are just like babies. When their body or mind feels stress and anxiety, it sends out signals.
There are many signs of anxiety a person may give.
Knowing what anxiety looks like will help you pinpoint symptoms and their root cause.
That way, you can treat the cause, and not the symptoms.
Catching symptoms early can help you and your loved ones face chronic anxiety and seek the help you need.
3. Seek treatment that works for you
When my husband first started his mental health journey, he was under the care of a counsellor. We soon learned that this route would not work for us.
It was a starting point, one that led us to seek medical help. Thankfully, our doctor diagnosed my husband quickly and prescribed medication that worked extremely well for him.
For every case of mental health, there seems to be a different treatment.
There are a variety of treatment options and it’s important to seek the one that works for you.
For us, that included medication and lifestyle changes.
There is no shame in seeking alternative routes or seeking help that may differ from others. I am not a medical expert, so I will not go into treatment options or details.
If you think you are struggling with mental health, please seek the help of a professional. Starting with a therapist or a doctor is a good idea.
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4. Avoid triggers
Anxiety triggers can disrupt our peace and well-being, making it essential to develop strategies to avoid or minimize their impact on our lives.
By identifying and managing these triggers proactively, we can create a healthier and more serene environment for ourselves. In this blog post, we will explore practical techniques and lifestyle adjustments that can help you navigate through anxiety triggers with confidence and maintain a greater sense of calm.
The best way to avoid any anxiety is to stay away from any triggers.
5. Recognize Mental illness as an illness
In our society, mental illness is often misunderstood or dismissed as something less significant than physical illness.
However, it’s crucial to recognize and acknowledge that mental illness is a legitimate illness that can have a profound impact on an individual’s well-being.
Many people still hold outdated beliefs that mental health struggles are a sign of weakness or simply a result of personal flaws. By recognizing mental illness as an illness, we can debunk these misconceptions and promote a more compassionate and understanding society.
Just like physical illnesses, mental illnesses require a professional diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing care. Recognizing mental illness as an illness is a crucial step toward achieving parity between physical and mental health. It emphasizes the need for equal access to resources, support, and treatment options for individuals facing mental health challenges.
6. Having a Godly Perspective
In times of anxiety and uncertainty, seeking solace in our faith can provide comfort and guidance. The Bible offers profound wisdom and encouragement for those facing anxiety, reminding us of God’s presence, love, and care.
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible offers comfort, guidance, and hope for those facing anxiety. By embracing the biblical perspective, we can find solace in God’s presence, trust in His sovereignty, and experience His peace that surpasses all understanding.
Let us draw near to God, seek His wisdom, and allow His Word to transform our anxious hearts into vessels of faith, hope, and peace.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.2 Timothy 1:7,
7. Look for the blessing
Living with anxiety can be challenging, but even in the midst of our struggles, there are hidden blessings to be found. Although anxiety may seem like a burden, it can also serve as a catalyst for personal growth, resilience, and a deeper reliance on God.
While anxiety presents challenges, it also offers hidden blessings and opportunities for growth. By shifting our perspective and actively seeking the blessings within our anxiety, we can cultivate empathy, resilience, self-awareness, gratitude, spiritual growth, and a commitment to self-care.
Remember, we are not defined by our anxiety but by how we respond to it.
Embrace the blessings that emerge from your journey and allow them to guide you toward a life filled with purpose, growth, and a deeper connection with yourself and with God.