5 Steps to Help You Begin to Shake Mental Bondage

Is it a coincidence that I would need to submit a last-minute request to take a “mental health day” the very same week that I had planned to write about mental health? And then, on the morning that I was supposed to get up and complete and publish this post, I received news of the unexpected death of a family member. What are the odds?

This week was rough. And being on house arrest for the last month-and-a-half due to COVID-19 didn’t help. Over the last few days, I have found myself growing increasingly impatient with my 8-year old during homework time and I have seen other mothers venting on Facebook about how they wish they could just have 29 minutes to themselves – sometimes even locking themselves in the bathroom, hoping to steal 5 of those minutes. Mental health was important even before coronavirus stepped on the scene, but now it is especially important.

As a person that is fascinated with psychology, this subject is one that is of deep interest to me. Our mental well-being shapes so much of our lives and yet many of us neglect it, thereby hindering ourselves from being our best selves. Instead, we push through negative emotions, becoming both masters of suppression and walking time-bombs, ready to explode at one cross word or a wrong look. As a teenager, I inadvertently trained myself to suppress emotions that were not conducive to my productivity, purposely keeping myself busy in an attempt to prove that I was above whatever it was that I was dealing with. Now, 15+ years and three children later, I realize how vital my mental well-being is to my ability to be a good mother to my children – and to be good to myself.

I’ve often found that when I am frustrated and very close to reaching my tipping point, it’s because there is something going on internally that external distractions are keeping me from being able to deal with. There’s something that I don’t understand, something I’m trying to sort out in my mind, or some problem that I’m trying to solve but needy children and unread work emails just won’t let me pause long enough to do so. This causes me to become short-tempered and the next thing I know, I’m lashing out at my oldest for doing  things even I did at her age.

So how is mental health obtained? Well, because life has a way of always giving us new material – new things to work through – the real question is, how is mental health pursued?

First off, there is a lot of value in sitting down and speaking with someone that understands the inner workings of the mind and can help you navigate through whatever it is that you’re dealing with so please do seek professional help if you need to as this post isn’t meant to replace that. That being said, here are some things I do as I continue to work towards keeping a sound mind:

  1. When less-than-pleasant feelings arise, instead of pushing them back down, I allow them to arise (I try to only do this when in the appropriate setting but it doesn’t always work out that way). By allowing them to come up, you may be able to follow them to the source. Follow those feelings until you figure out where that sense of sadness is coming from. Until you understand why you feel so disappointed by that thing that didn’t work out the way you hoped it would. Throughout life, without realizing it, we build certain expectations based on the things we see and experience, setting the standard for what we will and will not tolerate or accept. When those expectations aren’t met, we can feel let down but it isn’t until we follow that disappointment that we uncover the underlying expectation, allowing us to further clarify and solidify our boundaries and/or redefine those expectations so that they better serve us. This is an example of how following emotions can help unearth deep-seated issues.
  2. I tell God exactly how I feel. He is the one being in this whole wide universe that we can be completely transparent with without fear of judgment. He already knows what it is that we are thinking and feeling, so why not let it out? His word tells us that we can cast all of our cares on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). This provides an avenue for release and in my experience, release has often led to clarity, which then leads to much-needed peace. As I pour myself out to God by voicing all that I’m feeling, I actually get a better understanding of what it is that I’m feeling and that understanding helps me decide whether this problem is worth any more of my thought or energy.
  3. I confide in someone that I trust. In addition to instructing us to cast our cares on our heavenly Father, the Bible also tells us to seek wise counsel (Proverbs 19:20). Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to someone that will keep your confidence. Someone that can give you sound advice and can pray with and for you. And someone that can offer fresh perspective, helping you to see your problem from a different lens. We can’t always change our circumstances but with the help of an individual that has some wisdom, we can change the way we view them and sometimes that alone is enough.
  4. I quiet my mind. I’m constantly listening to podcasts and playing music but sometimes all of that stimulation is just too much. How can you hear yourself think if you are always being stimulated? Shutting out all of the noise allows us to check in with ourselves and gives space for reflection. It also allows us to process what’s going on in our minds. The same way our bodies send us signals when something is wrong, whether through pain or discomfort, our minds will tell us when something is troubling us but we have to be still in order to hear it.
  5. I prioritize growth. I don’t know about you but growth is crucial for my mental well-being. There’s a saying: “If you’re not growing, you’re dying”. There’s something about learning new information that puts me in a good headspace. Something about personal development that gives my life meaning. I don’t believe in the theory of evolution and the idea that we humans evolved from apes but I certainly believe in evolution in the sense that we should seek to continuously grow and better ourselves. And I’m not just referring to the pursuit of secular knowledge – we should also seek to grow in our knowledge of the things of God. Developing a habit of doing both of these will increase our overall knowledge base, further enhancing our ability to think abstractly. Abstract thinking, as defined by healthline, is “the ability to absorb information from our senses and make connections to the wider world”. How well we are able to analyze situations, solve problems and draw connections between things that are seemingly unrelated is limited to the breadth of knowledge that we possess. Therefore, it would benefit us greatly to make growth a top priority.

No form of bondage is God’s will concerning His children, not even mental bondage. Cycles can be broken when problems are dealt with properly, we just have to get out of our own heads long enough to hear His voice.

Troubles are one of life’s guarantees but Jesus welcomes us into His peace when He says, “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Anxiety and depression, along with all of the other fruits of poor mental health, only have the opportunity to settle in when we allow things that we do not understand to overtake us. Freedom from said fruits settles in when we first acknowledge their presence in our lives and then release them to the One that invites us to do so.

9 thoughts on “5 Steps to Help You Begin to Shake Mental Bondage

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  1. Great post with excellent advice! I could relate to so much of what you said. I am so sorry to hear of the recent loss you experienced. Please receive my condolences. Also, I relate to your thoughts and struggles with motherhood. It is simultaneously a great privilege and a great challenge! Sending you love and hugs!❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. G’day Tausha, how are you doing this side of the week, hopefully better than last week?

    Thank you for sharing about something that is pretty important, especially in the body of Christ. Mental, physical and spiritual health are all to be looked after but i find that if my mental health is out of wack, the other 2 will shortly follow if you know what i mean.

    Oooh i really want to recommend a great book called Emotionally healthy spiritually by a dude named Peter Scazzero, they have a youtube channel as well. You have probably heard of his work i imagine already but if by chance you haven’t, well i think you will love it.

    I really like all points you have raised, they all play a great role in keeping you grounded and i think there is something really good in going to a counselor before the poop hits the fan so when stuff does happen you can better manage whats happening. Your thoughts on that?

    Very thankful that we dont have to push aside feelings as Christians ad bring them all to God, raw and all. While its unfortunate that the church has often taught we cannot trust our feelings and should discard them, i think thats very dangerous.

    Sorry for the essay type comment lol, Peace

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    1. Hi Evad Mac! Actually, I have not heard of that book so I’m going to look it up right now!

      I totally agree, when we neglect our mental health, it becomes evident in every other area of our lives. Seeking help before everything goes wrong is wise, otherwise we might end up with a big mess on our hands. That brings to mind the quote by Frederick Douglass: “It is easier to raise strong children than to fix broken men.” Or in this case, it is easier to properly address our problems before they get out of hand and we find ourselves beyond repair.

      No need to apologize for the essay, I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. Isn’t that the purpose of blogging, anyway?

      Continued blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful steps, dear Tausha. Years ago, while homeschooling my three youngsters, I often took sanity breaks in the bathroom. 🙂 The first few months of teaching kids at home was the hardest; we eventually found our rhythm and enjoyed most of it. We had minimal involvement with the system for the first few years, so it was low pressure. My heart goes out to moms who have to deal with a bunch of emails.
    Blessings ~ Wendy Mac

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed this post, sis! I could relate so much to what you’ve shared. I’m sorry to hear about the death of a relative, especially as you are/were dealing with Covid and mental health. My prayer for us is that we would always turn to Abba, heed wise counsel, silence the noise and never suppress the opportunity to learn more about the issues affecting us 🙏🏽

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