Our world can sometimes seem chaotic and out of control, making peace of mind hard to find. In this practical and timely article, Simone Griffin shares 4 simple but effective strategies to help you prioritize your mental health and protect your peace this year, no matter what lies ahead.
Some of us approach a new year with caution, sticking our toes in to test the waters before deciding if we are prepared to immerse ourselves completely. Others dive in headfirst—fearless and ready to swim through any deep waters we might encounter. Which kind of person are you? Whether you’re hesitant, eager, or somewhere in between, you can probably agree that we’re all limited in our knowledge of what the year has in store. God, in His sovereignty, is the only One who can see the big picture. Only He knows whether our days will be leisurely and relaxing or strenuous and exhausting. But the beautiful truth is that He has provided us with tools we can use to protect our peace as we persevere through life on this side of Heaven.
Mental health plays a huge role in our days, months, and years. Yet so often we neglect to acknowledge the power of our minds and steward them well. We resolve to improve things like our physical health and our use of time. But we place our mental health on the backburner, promising to “get to it later.”
There’s a thought-provoking quote by Wayne Dyer that reads, “Our lives are the sum total of the choices we have made.” In light of this, we should consider what kind of life our seemingly-small, daily decisions are creating. I invite you to join me in implementing four intentional daily practices that—if used consistently—will move us toward a healthy, sound mind.
4 SIMPLE STRATEGIES TO PROTECT YOUR PEACE
1. Engage More With The Word Than The World
As simple as it seems, daily time in God’s Word is a practice we often neglect. Our minds are often in overdrive as we scramble for answers to help us with our daily circumstances. But the truth is, every bit of wisdom and discernment we need to navigate our days well can be found in the Bible.
Hebrews 4:12-13 tells us, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” If this is true, then why are we so quick to turn to ourselves or to others as our living and active source instead? God’s Word is the only source that can sanctify, convict, correct, and transform us so that our hearts reflect more of Jesus.
In John 15:5 Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” But instead of abiding in Him, we choose to abide in things like social media, television, work, and leisure. Before you know it, we’ve unconsciously drifted into the “apart from me” category. We become distant from God and too distracted to understand His will.
This year and every year we should desire to give Jesus His rightful place in our hearts. We should seek to grow deeper in our knowledge of His Word. In a romantic relationship, we view each year as an opportunity to get to know the other person better and create new memories with them. That’s why we celebrate anniversaries. But what if we had the same level of fervor when it came to strengthening and celebrating our relationship with the Lord? Cultivating this relationship requires understanding who God is and who we are in Him. This can only be accomplished by going to the source—the Bible. There is no substitute to this foundational step toward a mind that is healthy and at peace.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
2. Practice More Praise and Less Panic
Our world can seems chaotic and out of control. There is no better time to acknowledge the power of our praise to God. We choose to panic our way through our circumstances instead of praising our way through them. As a result a domino effect of negative consequences transpires.
It typically happens this way:
a). Something makes us feel out of control and we begin to panic.
b). Our panic pours over to those around us, worsening the situation.
c). God provides strength and solutions for whatever we are panicking about.
d). We feel shame and guilt for stressing, panicking, and causing others to worry instead of laying our situation at the feet of the Father to begin with.
Does this scenario sound familiar? Our flesh does not naturally choose praise over panic in a difficult situation. We default to stress and worry. This tragic weakness can be traced back to the earliest humans in the Bible. We can be thankful God has shown us how broken we are in this area. But He has also given us the remedy—praise.
A Model of Praise Over Panic
Two biblical characters—Paul and Silas—modeled well what it looks like to praise through a terrible situation. While preaching the Word of God they were seized, flogged, severely beaten, and then thrown into prison. I don’t know about you, but I’d find this extreme level of physical pain and the subsequent imprisonment as justifiable reasons to panic. But the Bible makes no mention of their panic, stress, or worry. According to Acts 16:25-26, here’s how they responded instead: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.”
Life’s circumstances can make our minds feel bound and imprisoned. But how quickly might we see a shift if we prayed and praised the way Paul and Silas did? God may choose not to remove our troublesome situation. But praying and praising can at least help to remove our worry. In 2 Timothy 1:7 Paul tells us “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” We must live this truth out in our daily lives regardless of what obstacles we run into.
3. Trade Expectations For Engagement
Most of us begin the year with resolutions. We start each month with goals and seasonal plans. Then we structure our days with to-do lists in pretty planners. But clinging too closely to the expectations we hold for our days, months, and years is one of the quickest ways to spiral into a frenzied mind that lacks peace. Let’s consider what God has to say about expectations:
“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15).
These verses shouldn’t discourage us from making plans. In fact, I believe God delights in our order and intentionality. He tells us in Ephesians 5:16 to “make the best use of the time because the days are evil.” But we have to approach our plans with flexibility, knowing our outcomes are largely beyond our control.
We don’t need to create lofty expectations and be thrown for a loop when they fail. Instead we can commit to being present and engaged in every moment God blesses us with.
Examples of Engagement
When we miss the expectation of daily Bible reading and fall a few days behind… Instead of giving up altogether we can pick up where we left off and fully engage with what God wants to communicate through His Word.
When our self-imposed expectation for a year of showing more patience cracks under pressure and we raise our voice at our husband and children… We can humble ourselves afterwards and fully engage in repentance and reconciliation.
When we drop the ball on the expectation we set for a healthier lifestyle… We can fully engage in praising God for giving us breathing bodies and time to improve the way we care for them.
Our minds can benefit greatly from positive shifts like this. We can release the feelings of shame and apathy that come from failed expectations. This allows us to make space for the satisfaction and contentment that flows from fully engaging with whatever and whoever is right in front of us. As long as we are seeking to glorify God with every second we’re given, we will never fail.
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
4. Practice Humility By Asking For Help
When we think of what it means to be humble, we don’t automatically think of asking for help. However, it takes a great deal of humility for us to admit we can’t hold everything together ourselves. Asking for help is one of the most obvious, yet most difficult things we can do to protect our peace of mind. God has given us the gift of Himself and others to help us because we were not created to carry burdens on our own.
a. Ask For Help From God
Several times throughout His Word, God pleads with us to humble ourselves and come to Him for help:
“‘Come to me, all 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).
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
We should heed these encouragements, seeking to humble ourselves as we look to God as our Helper.
b. Ask For Help From Others
Whether we need an actual helping hand or simply prayers and support, God has shown us the importance of leaning on one another for help:
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14).
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
“So continue encouraging each other and building each other up, just like you are doing already” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Sisters, let’s not allow pride to steal our peace of mind. Let’s fall to our knees and beg God to move in ways we can’t. And let’s pick up the phone and ask our friends and family for prayers, for childcare, for encouragement, for a meal, or whatever else we need.
Will you join me in being a woman who commits to pursuing peace of mind? The Lord has been generous to give us all the tools we need to be kept “in perfect peace by keeping our minds stayed on him” (Isaiah 12:3). Equipped with God’s Word, less expectations, more praise, and more help, our minds will have the perfect conditions to be nourished and at peace.
Which of the tips that Simone shared do you find most difficult to employ in your own life? How might you take a step towards doing one of these things today? Maybe it’s spending some time in the Word or in worship. Or maybe it’s showing yourself grace or sending a text asking for help. Let’s make a tangible effort to pursue a more peaceful state of mind for the glory of God.
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Am so glad you included let “help.” When dealing with heightened anxiety I put off seeing a therapist because well meaning friends said I just needed to pray more and read my Bible more. What I needed then was to get help. It was hard to admit I needed therapy, but what I learned about myself, who I was with God, and how to deal with life was life changing.
I am in the midst of a divorce and moved to an area near my son. He had a plot of land next door and asked if I wanted to build a home on it. I would provide the money to build the home and yet the title of the land is in his name. My other son felt it would be under his control and as the home appreciated, the older son would get the home when I passed. It would mean my other son would not receive an equitable share of the proceeds of this home. I was all ready to proceed with the home to be built, but I don’t want to short-change my younger son. Your advice is to seek the Lord’s wisdom. God has been gracious to give me hope and assurance that through prayer, the Word, and wise counsel I can find God’s direction in the new chapter of my life. Your article was timely as I started to become undone with worry about this dilemna. Thank you.