This is part of our new Devotional series on “Race & Culture” where we will be covering topics that relate to Hope, Humility, & Healing as well as taking a look at some of the stories from around our fellowship. This particular devotional was written by Cheryl R. a licensed clinical social worker. She gives us some amazing tools for healing and protecting our mental health.
You can Check out all of our devotionals from our new series on Culture & Race here
You can check out all of Devotionals here
Spiritual Reflection and Practicals
By: Cheryl Rountree
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Part 1: Personal Reflections
This is a troubling and painful time in our Country and in our Church. #Black Lives Matter is a siren to awaken the minds and consciences of white people to rise up against generations of racial injustice in our communities. As we are called to listen and to learn, we must uncover our inner beliefs and examine them in the light of God’s Word.
The process of reflection can lead to repentance and eventually to transformation. Transformation is typically painful and arduous and beautiful and uplifting. The initial phase of reflection is enhanced by conversations and listening to others. The time of dialogue can elicit differences and conflict, as well as the release of suppressed emotions.
As disciples of Jesus, we seek God’s peace even during times of tremendous trial and tribulation. God’s peace will provide us with the strength and courage we desperately need to persevere through these hard times.
Our country and community continue to experience the serious repercussions of the Coronavirus and of lifetimes of racial injustice, pain and murder. These one time shadowed dangers have now fully occupied our homes, thoughts and screens. Many of us, probably most of us, are wrought with anxiety and fear and even panic or dread. Grief and loss are the undercurrents of much of our pain. These emotions need our full attention to heal and resolve.
The Scripture in Philippians instructs us on the relationship between the focus of our minds and anxiety. Paul writes to embrace prayer to release upsets and hold to gratitude. Further, he specifies the detail of what should occupy our minds and thoughts. The spiritual checklist includes what is true, noble, righteous, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. In other words, our focus benefits from being on God and godliness. The promise is His peace within us.
Part Two: Practicals for Optimal Self Care
To offset the increase in stress and anxiety, it is necessary to have multiple coping techniques for daily use. The following are examples of effective tools to manage stress and reduce elevated levels of stress hormones in the body. Often, stress occurs with a sense of lessened control or lack of control in life. Chronic hyper-arousal is dangerous to our physical and mental health. Self-control via self care can instill a healthy experience of autonomy. It is important to create habits to self soothe and regulate your autonomic nervous system for physical and mental health.
- Sleep – Provide yourself with 8 hours of restful sleep nightly. A consistent bedtime routine is very helpful, as well as turning off all screens 30min prior to bedtime. Adequate restful sleep is a key to combat the harmful effects of stress on the body. Use the Calm App for guided help if needed.
- Journal – Studies show the many benefits of keeping a daily journal. It can release pent up emotions, provide a sense of empowerment, and assist with letting go of pain that can lodge in our bodies. Deeper levels of creativity can also emerge. Journal your feelings each day by writing or phrasing or drawing your emotions in a private notebook to release upsets and gain insights. Questions like “How am I feeling right now?” and “What is causing this feeling?” may increase your self-reflection.
- Breathe – Learn basic relaxation breathing exercises to practice focused breathing and calm the nervous system. For example, relax progressive muscles or breathe deeply into the diaphragm.
- Caring – Care for other living things that are not people. Surround yourself with indoor plants, start a potted garden, or spend time with your dog/pets.
- Music & Podcasts – Allow music and/or inspiring podcasts to fill the vacant noise in your day. This can occupy what otherwise may be ruminating thoughts.
- Nature – Spend time in nature by taking walks, drive to the nearest beach or looking upwards at the majestic evening stars.
- Exercise – Regular exercise to work out your physical body is proven medicine to create new neural pathways and grow the hippocampus area of the brain.
- Nutrition: It counts! Eat well and cut down on fatty and sugary foods to regulate your blood sugar which can affect mood.
- Gratitude is a perspective that allows positive attitude to grow and cancels out negativity. Gratitude and negativity cannot coexist.
- Knowing when to get help – Seek professional help when the anxiety does not remit over time. Mental health counselors facilitate the healing process of regulating emotions and staying within our “window of tolerance” during life’s challenges.
C connect with positive people
A activate your physical body with exercise
L limit social media
M meditate with prayer