According to the World Health Organization (WHO), self-care is “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health worker.” Therefore, Christians living with Anxiety and Depression also need to practice self-care to promote and maintain good mental health for a better overall quality of life.
This is important because we experience burnout from our jobs, are busy caring for families, and in the process, neglect ourselves. Risking mental health decline. By establishing a self-care routine focused on Christian living, we can use the Word of God, in conjunction with exercise, nutrition, and therapy on a consistent basis to maintain overall mental and emotional health.
Below, I have shared seven ways for Christians to practice self-care to help better manage anxiety and depression and enjoy a better quality of life. You can also incorporate your own chosen methods to create your own self-care routine that you feel comfortable maintaining on a regular basis. Remember to keep God at the center of your plans and activities.
#1 Be Still and Rest in God’s Power and Control
“Humble youself, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due season. Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.”1 Peter 5:6-7
It is an honour to be called the children of God. In God, we have the luxury of resting in His sovereign power and control over our situations and lives. Relying on God and putting our trust in Him is practicing self-care. Because we are relying on Him to work out circumstances for us when we can’t for ourselves. And, our wisdom lets us know when we are insufficient and unequipped to handle our own situations and rely on Him for help. Resting in God’s power and control also relieves us of the stress and worries we carry around with us unnecessarily, especially when we have no control over our situations. And, when we are stress-free, it improves our moods and mental and emotional well-being.
We must surrender our concerns to Him and be still and allow Him to “perfect that which concerns us,” (Psalm 138:8). He admonishes us to come to Him and lay our burdens down and find rest in Him. This gives us peace and comfort in Him; knowing that He’s in full control and knows exactly what resolutions we need to our situations.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart. And ye shall find rest unto your souls.”Matt 11:28-30
#2 Read Bible Stories for Pleasure
Reading for pleasure is a great way to practice self-care. It is your time, and you choose what to read for enjoyment. You can learn new Bible stories or refamiliarize yourself with your favourites. In doing so, you may learn something new or get inspiration from your favourite Bible character that may help you improve your walk with the Lord. I enjoy re-reading the Psalms – David’s life experiences inspire me to have continued hope and trust in God.
In particular, I like re-reading Psalms 139 because, in the past, it really helped me to hold on during my struggles with depression and anxiety. To be reminded that I serve a sovereign God with the abilities to know everything about me, to be present everywhere with me, and to have almighty power to affect change in my life, and bring me peace, comfort, and relief. I continue to rest in His power and control over me.
“O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquaintd with all my ways. If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there, if I make my bed in hell, Thou art there.”Psalm 139: 1-3
#3 Seek Christian Counselling
“Where no counsel is, the people fall. But in the multitude of counsellors, there is safety.”Proverbs 11:14
Seek counselling to practice self-care. Christian Counsellors offer support, advice, and encouragement based on scripture. The good thing here is that you get professional help from a licensed therapist who is also a Christian. However, it is important to note that the support and advice given by a therapist will be, first and foremost, based on a professional discipline – mental health wellness – not spiritual support.
Therefore, it is important to determine whether you need spiritual support. In this case, you will need to seek out a Pastor/Minister. Likewise, if you need professional mental health support, you will need to seek out a licensed therapist. But, only you can determine your needs. Ask God for wisdom to guide you on your decision to make this determination.
“Without counsel, purposes are disappointed. But, in the multitude of counsellors they are established.”Proverbs 15:22
#4 Spend Time in Nature
Spending time in nature is a great way to practice self-care. When we spend time in nature, we surround ourselves with God’s creations. We are reminded of His sovereignty: power, control, and authority over everything. He gave life to every living thing: the trees, birds, animals, etc., most importantly humans, who He made into His own image and likeness. Spending time in nature gives us peace, and mental clarity, and boosts our confidence in the Lord. We feel relieved because we know that God has the power to affect change in our lives for the better. Spending time in nature admonishes us to continue trusting in Him to handle all our life’s concerns.
“The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine. As for the world and the fullness, thereof, Thou has founded them. The north and the south, Thou has created. Thou has a mighty arm, strong is Thy hand, high is Thy right hand.”Psalm 89:11-13
“In His hand are the deep places of the earth, the strength of the hills is His also. The sea is his, He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.”Psalm 95:4-5
#5 Listen to Christian Music
“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs. Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”Colossians 3:15
Listening to music is good for the brain and mental and emotional well-being. It helps boost moods, and it reduces anxiety. Thus, when we listen to Christian music, it uplifts us spiritually and gives us peace. It is a great way to practice self-care because we take our minds off our problems and circumstances, and refocus our minds on Christ connecting with Him spiritually.
“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”Ephesians 5:19
#6 Eat Healthy for Good Mental Health
God has given us the wisdom to make the right decisions and choices for the best outcomes in our lives. This includes our health – we need to make the right food choices for the nourishment and sustenance of our bodies. A healthy diet promotes good physical health and can prevent certain serious diseases, enabling longevity in life. Likewise, some foods are bad for our physical health and directly cause health issues, decreasing our quality of life. It is common knowledge that foods high in sugar and processed foods are the causes of heart disease and diabetes. And they also undermine our mental health.
According to WebMD, “by helping people shape their diet, we can improve their mental health and decrease their risks of psychiatric disorders.” Therefore, if we eat a healthy diet, we get improved mental health and a decreased risk of a mental disorder. Hence, we should eat well to maintain good mental health.
#7 Create an Enjoyable Exercise Routine
We all know the importance of exercise for physical health: it promotes good health and keeps us fit, enabling longevity of life. Exercise is equally important for overall mental health, whether you suffer from depression or anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain and stabilizes our moods, allowing us to feel good overall. Creating an enjoyable exercise routine specifically for depression and anxiety will help reduce symptoms and sustain improved overall mental health.
I, particularly enjoy Yoga. Yoga is an excellent self-care practice for depression and anxiety. Studies show that practicing Yoga reduces symptoms with just one 60-minute session weekly. You don’t necessarily have to go to the gym and buy a membership to practice Yoga. Just get yourself a mat, find an instructor on YouTube, and follow along. There are several types of yoga – the most common one is Hatha. So, try out a few and see which ones you’re comfortable with. Here are the benefits of practicing yoga.
It is not lost on me that practicing Yoga is controversial for Christians as it is derived from Hinduism. However, I practice it solely for its benefit to aid in my depression and anxiety. I do not engage in anything else associated with Yoga – not even meditation. This is a personal choice. So, no judgment, please!
To that end, it is important that Christians practice self-care to cope with anxiety and depression and maintain good mental health for a better quality of life. If the seven ways to practice self-care above are maintained, you will see improved changes in your mental and emotional well-being.