Each one of us goes through moments of stress and trauma from time to time—sometimes to the extreme. It is an inevitable part of the human experience. Fortunately, just because our brains are traumatized and our minds are wounded does not necessarily mean that our souls are sick as well. It could be the case, but oftentimes, I don’t think it to be true. As the Ph.D. graduate from Yale Divinity School, Rev. Dr. Kathryn Greene-McCreight, explains, “My brain certainly was sick, and my mind was sick, but God held my soul firmly throughout, keeping me longing for him—even though it felt as if I had been abandoned. Abandonment, however, is not God’s way of operating.” This truth keeps me the most comforted when I go through my bouts of stress, fear, anxiety, or anger. We can take comfort in knowing that our souls are still firmly held in the mighty hands of God, even when our sickened minds prevent us from feeling his comforting presence. As to taking care of our minds and our brains, here are a few practical tips to help carry us through the process of healing:
To Overcome the Temptation of Sleeping In:
- Make an exciting or a relaxing daily routine for yourself. Write/type it out so that you’ll keep yourself accountable to this schedule.
- Make it a point for yourself to sleep earlier and wake up earlier. Focus primarily on the morning routines. Give yourself time to get out of bed, wash your face, do some breathing exercises, and read a nice book or go for a walk around the block. Make your morning as relaxing as possible so that it sets a positive foundation for the rest of your day.
- If you have trouble sleeping at night, I recommend that you put away your electronics, read a book for 30 minutes, and then do this breathing exercise for 5 minutes: Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, and breathe out through your mouth for 8 counts. It knocks me right out every time.
To Heal Your Sore Throat From Excessive Screaming:
- Steep a cup of chamomile tea (or any other type of floral tea)
- Squeeze in a slice of lemon
- Add 2 tablespoons of raw honey
- Drink every night before bed and every morning when you wake up. Its healing effects should be noticeable within the first morning after you drink it. Keep doing this until your throat heals completely.
To Keep Your Eyes From Swelling After Excessive Crying:
- Fill a zip lock bag with some ice cubes
- Wrap the zip lock bag with a handkerchief or a thin hand towel
- Lay this bundle of coldness on your eyes for 30 minutes before you sleep (or 1 hour max, with breaks in between). The next day, your eyes won’t even have any traces of dark circles, let alone swelling. This works like magic.
To Keep Your Mind From Racing:
- Read a helpful book every night before you sleep (the Bible, a self-help book, an article about someone overcoming their tribulations, etc.)
- Please do those breathing exercises before you sleep and after you wake.
- Interrupt your own thoughts with this phrase: What if God will help me?
- I’m the master of over-thinking and over-stressing when I’m going through a spell of anxiety. Recently, however, I’ve been revealed this phrase, and it has helped me to instantly calm down in the midst of my emotional storms. Stop yourself from treading down the road of negative thinking by repeating the phrase, “What if God will help me?” And then let the situation fall into place. Don’t meddle with it in your mind.
To Find the Motivation to Complete Mundane Tasks:
- Schedule one or two errands a day into your daily routine, AT MOST. Do not go over this limit or else it’ll have aversive effects—rather than helping you feel productive, you’ll begin to feel overwhelmed yet again.
- Write out your tasks in a checkbox format. As you complete each task, check it off or cross it out. This will give you a significant sense of accomplishment for the day, and you’ll remember this feeling the next time you have another mundane task to complete.
To Find Time to Relax in the Midst of a Crazy Schedule:
- Delegate some of your tasks to someone else. No, you don’t need to do every single thing. There are people who could help you, who would do as decent of a job at it as you would.
- Say, “No, thanks!” to some unnecessary responsibilities. Good things are not always God things. What I mean by this is that you don’t need to say yes to every good thing on your schedule—whether it is a group hang out, a movie, a ministry opportunity, or even working overtime. Discern which tasks God wants you to really focus on, and let go of all the extras if you can. There is no shame in using discernment when making decisions.
- Set one day out of your week where you can relax and simply do things! Set a few hours to go for a hike or to read a book, or both. This is called a Sabbath. Taking a Sabbath is extremely important in maintaining your general wellbeing. As fragile humans, we need so much rest to maintain our level of energy and productivity. There is no shame in taking a Sabbath. It does not make you lazy or unproductive. Instead, it will do quite the opposite: improve your mood, your productivity, your mental wellbeing, and your overall satisfaction in life.
I sincerely hope this list of tips will help carry you through the tough times. I’ve been there many times before, and it’s never an easy route. Having come out of them alive, however, the best I could do is to offer you some solutions that have worked for me. Let me know if you have any tips that have worked for you! I would love to learn from them. Have a beautiful, relaxing, fulfilling, and extraordinary day!