Monday, 18 June 2018 11:02

Choosing Health

Written by  Christy Holding, LPC
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May is mental health month and the Alabama  Department of  Mental Health is focusing on overall health and well being.  Our overall well being includes both our physical and mental health.  The theme the department has chosen for this year is Fitness#4mind4 body. 


Most of us would agree that our  physical health plays an important role in our mental health and vice versa.  We also know that our state of mind contributes to how we feel about being able to exercise and other disciplines that contribute to our physical health.  The word discipline feels so daunting at times.  So how might we be able to reframe the word discipline so it doesn’t seem so impossible? 


We know that to be physically active, to eat a good diet, and to get plenty of sleep is important to our health.  But how might we be able to look at those in ways that are more doable?  What if we viewed exercise and eating better as something we “get” to do instead of something that we “have “ to do? 


I remember a friend who had been chronically ill for a few years, and as she began recovering she started running a little bit.  I was talking to her one day and I asked, “Do you ‘have’ to run every day?” She said, “No, I ‘get’ to run.’” I will never forget her response.  After having been sick for a few years, she was so grateful to be able to run again.  Now, I am not suggesting that all of us need to start running, but I am suggesting that a lot of us might benefit from doing some type of movement.  If you feel overwhelmed by this suggestion and think, I have started and stopped so many times before, let me encourage you to set reasonable goals.  Maybe a walk three times a week for just 15 minutes.  Do not set yourself up to fail.  Let’s face it, you are probably not going to stick with a lofty goal of walking every day for an hour!  But I bet you could practice walking a few times a week because you “get” to, not because you have to.


The hardest part about this for someone suffering from depression, anxiety or any other mental disorder is that it is counter intuitive to the way one feels.  This is where you get to “practice” going against the way you feel.  Yes, it is difficult, but we do not always have to act according to the way we feel.  You actually have more agency over yourself than you think.  Of course, exercise makes you feel better because you release some helpful brain chemicals, but you also realize that you have accomplished something that was difficult, and that comes with good feelings as well. 


In addition to physical health and mental health, here at Samaritan Counseling Center we stress the importance of our spiritual and social health as well.  I am reminded of the verses in Luke 2 that point to Jesus and His growth in all of these areas.  We first see it referred to in Luke 2:40: “And the child grew and became strong; He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on Him.”  Then again in Luke 2:52 we see: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”  So, in other words, Jesus grew physically, mentally, spiritually and relationally. 


As I was reading over Luke 2 in preparation for this article the thing that stood out to me the most was that right before these two verses we learn about Jesus being off with His family doing “religious” things, and then returning home.  He returned home back to His own town of Nazareth.  Nazareth was not considered a great town. In fact, one of the disciples upon learning that Jesus was from Nazareth asked, “Can anything good could come from Nazareth?”  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I want an new answer, a new insight to my problems, some new way to handle them.  If only I could go away somewhere, or if only I lived somewhere else or if only... you fill in the blank to your own “if only”.  But the reminder of these verses is that the hard work of life is in the daily decisions we make in our normal environment. The daily choices we make at home, at work, at play, or with our circle of friends.  At best it is hard work…but might I suggest beneficial and redemptive work. 


The older I get the more I realize that most things do not have a quick fix.  The hard work of life, the birthplace of change, is done in the most mundane tasks of our life.  It is the day in and day out of the little choices and decisions we make each and every day.  The decisions that we make in our own little Nazareth! 


John Maxwell says “the secret to success is determined by your daily agenda.”  You cannot change your life until you change something you do every day.  So I would like to challenge you to prayerfully ask the Lord to help you see what little changes you can make today to make your life more manageable, or so that you can be healthier physically, mentally, spiritually and/or relationally.  Remember that today is the first day of the rest of your life!



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