Below are the notes from our Mens Midweek on Emotional Wellness. It was an awesome lesson led by Stepfan Jones who is currently working in the field of clinical counseling while pursuing his masters degree.
The Women also had an awesome midweek lesson (Led by Cheryl and Ann-Marie who are both clinical Counselors) that you can hear here:
I am currently in the process of finishing my masters degree in social work so I have about 10 months until I finish that. I have been doing work as a clinical counselor for the past two years. In that time I primary work with clients with substance use and legal challenges. But we focus on the person as a whole and that includes their emotional well being.
Our emotional well being may not be something that comes to mind frequently. When you think about it, we tend to value the body way more than mind. It’s sort of like favoritism towards the physical.
Last year around this time, I hurt my shoulder pretty bad. I was in pain for about a week and some change. I thought about my shoulder often, I guarded it, I iced it, hot pack, slept on my left side, tried everything. Then I went to my doctor and he sent me to get some other things and physical therapy. I went to therapy for about 2 months or so and it continued to get better. I put a lot of effort into trying to get my shoulder better!
Think about it, we brush our teeth, take showers, make sure we have deodorant, clean clothes. If something is out of sorts we seek to fix it. And we teach these things to our children take care of your physical being, but how often to do speak about the emotional and psychological?
Why do we focus on the physical? Well, frankly it is easier to feel and become aware of.
When I heard about George Floyd and the back to back murders of black individuals by law enforcement it was devastating. When I heard the news, I cried. All I wanted to do was pray. I wanted to go to God because that was the only place I knew I could be comforted. I wasn’t angry and wanting to fight. I just felt hopeless and wanting to be in Gods presence. My wife, Sam and I did just that.
How are you all doing with everything that is going on? Where do you go when your emotional well being is taken hit, after hit, after hit?
When I think about emotional well being Matthew 14 is by far my most favorite passage to reflect on. So where we pick up is right after John the Baptist was beheaded and Jesus just received word.
Matthew 14:13- 24
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” 16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. 22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
There are so many things I love about this passage, but what I want to focus on is how Jesus always brought it back to God.
Jesus had so many things going on. When I read through this I wonder what is going through Jesus’ mind as he is serving all these people. A relative of his just died and he decides not to send everyone away, but instead to care for their needs!
We all have different things pulling and vying for our attention or they demand our attention. Work, family, children and their school work, social injustice, COVID, bills, so many things.
Jesus finds out that John has passed in a brutal way. The first thing he does is make some time to go to God, but that gets interrupted. So he takes care of what he needs to and tries again. Jesus didn’t give up on trying to get in some time with God.
We need to be compassionate towards our self about what is going on, and even when we interacting with family and others. Being in touch with what you are feeling and thinking. During these times we can be on an emotional roller coaster and not even know it.
Jesus in this passage was not only compassionate towards others but towards himself. He knew he needed to go to his Father.
Where do you go with your thoughts and emotions? I like to think that Jesus during this time spent a great deal of time just exploring his emotions and praying to God. The reason why is because Jesus sends the people away after taking care of them. In verse 24 it says “and the boat was already a considerable distance from land.” Jesus had to be on that mountainside alone for quite some time before he left that space.
It is so important for us to bring it back to God, but more importantly for you to want to bring it back to God.
Have you ever just felt like you were just in a weird space but couldn’t tell why? You have to ask yourself what am I thinking about and how is it making me feel?
In the field I’m in we like to speak about being attuned. Are you attune to yourself? Which is a fancy way of saying are you engaged with what’s on your mind throughout the day?
This is where it starts paying attention to what we are thinking and feeling. Bringing it back to God to help us sort through our emotional status.
I have a few thing here that you can try to implement. Once you explore where you are a few things we can do to help us continue to move forward. These tools can help quiet the mind. It’s hard to take care of self when your mind is yelling things at.
Get enough sleep
Eat healthy foods
Get into a good routine
Eat a little chocolate
Pray or meditate
Get involved in a worthy cause
Drop some involvement
Prioritize important tasks
Use assertive communication
Schedule time for yourself
The Mental Health Wellness Week (MHWW) website also has some coping skills, some that are positive and encourage mental health, and others that are destructive or used to avoid your problems.
The good coping skills include:
Meditation and relaxation techniques
Having time to yourself
Physical activity or exercise
Spending time with friends
Spending time on your hobbies
Quality time with your pets
Getting a good night’s sleep
Progressive Muscle Relaxation