I’m squishing mental and emotional rest together because they kind of go hand-in-hand. Plus, I’m trying to finish this series by tomorrow because of a point I’ll be making later…
Like overdoing things in the physical realm, I tend to overthink/over-analyze which causes me to worry about all sorts of things like work, my future, my writing, my friends, my family, you get the idea.
Because I overthink/analyze and worry about situations or people, this can cause my emotions to be bitter, angry, sad, anxious, stressed and frustrated. I can also pity myself, or even have low self-esteem. So you see how these kind of work together.
All of these things cause some major unrest. They are not what I’m called to, or what you’re called to, yet we can easily fall into any of them. Some of us more easily than others.
Sometimes both mental and emotional unrest can cause physical unrest in the form of sickness.
“Bottled up. Felt the pain before, but not this much…”
Mental and emotional unrest can also be caused by trying to cater to everyone else’s needs while your mental and emotional needs are being unmet. Sometimes, while you help your loved ones deal with hard situations, you push your problems aside. Which is a good sacrifice; while someone is communicating a problem they’re having, you don’t wanna bring in your problems. It’s good to listen, to give a shoulder to cry on, to give advice when you feel led to, to pray with that person.
It is when you are constantly being emotionally vomited on, and not given the chance to speak up, or you do not give yourself the chance to step away from it all, and fill yourself up that causes you to just keep pushing your emotions down. Sometimes your negative mentality is also pushed inward, leaving all your emotions to just stay bottled up.
Bottled up emotions lead to explosions. Everyone’s explosions are different – crying, yelling, maybe even a silent explosion of just staying in your room for hours at a time just sulking. But when it happens, it’s pretty heavy, and hopelessness can really settle in.
So, Where’s the Balance?
It’s interesting that the word “over” is placed in front of “think” or “analyze,” thereby making it a negative thing. This shows the problem of obsession.
Thinking, analyzing, and being concerned are completely different than worrying and being anxious. Obsessing over certain things and people makes us lose focus on the things that truly matter, such as our faith, family, and friends. And even if you’re worrying over someone you love, worrying does nothing for them or for you.
I write all this because these are things I constantly have to tell myself (as some of you know from previous blog posts). Just recently, I was struggling with a lot of anxiety and mental stress due to thoughts about my past, and how that all affected who I currently am.
If no one’s told you this, or even if you knew this already, I want to say it aloud. Or, type it for you to read:
It is okay for you to FEEL.
We feel things all the time. But I guess I want to stress that it’s okay for you to feel angry, sad, or bitter, if that is what you’re feeling. You’re not some horrible person for feeling this way because everyone has these feelings.
I also want to stress that it’s okay for you to still have these same feelings due to something that’s happened in your past. I tend to feel super embarrassed and stupid if I’m crying over something that happened six months ago because I feel like I should currently be over it. But it takes time to get over things, and if it’s six months or six weeks or six days, then you take the time you need. Don’t rush or drag out your healing process, and never let anyone pressure you into feeling a certain way if you’re over it or not over it.
But my good friend Taylor made a good point to me last night as I struggled mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – it’s okay to have feelings, just as long as you don’t stay there. And she’s totally right.
Yes, cry or scream or do whatever you need to do when the emotion comes along. But don’t stay like that for the rest of the day/night/week. I know it can be hard sometimes; when you’re feeling these kinds of emotions, you feel like there’s no way out, or that the feeling is going to last forever.
But there is hope. As a Christian, I believe that God created me and knows every part of me. Meaning, He knows all the ups and downs I go through. Yes, I do feel hopeless and alone sometimes, but in the back of my mind, I am certain that it won’t last. I get my emotions out, and I turn to the Truth, the Bible, as my comfort.
Moving Past Mental and Emotional Unrest Toward Peace
Yes, it’s possible to move past all this, and into mental and emotional rest. For the record, because I am a Christian, I base all of these solutions on Christian principles. And there are only a few things I suggest…
A good friend reminded me last weekend that life is full of ups and downs. He illustrated this thought through C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters when Screwtape, a “high” demon, is giving his nephew Wormwood advice on how to steer his “patient” away from Christianity.
Screwtape advises Wormwood that when a Christian is on a spiritual high, make him believe it will last forever. And when the Christian is in a spiritual low, make him believe it will last forever.
When my friend told me this, it actually blew my mind (no, I haven’t read The Screwtape Letters, but after hearing that, I definitely plan to).
So, in order to get our mental and emotional rest in check, we need to have some perspective. When we’re on our “hilltops,” and we feel like everything in our lives is going great, we need to remember that it won’t last forever. That doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the “hilltop,” it just means we need to be prepared for when things slip into the “valleys.”
And while in the “valleys,” we can have our emotions, but we must cling to Jesus for comfort, and ask Him for the strength and grace to get us through our darker times.
It’s all easier said than done, but when I truly think about all the past things God brought me through, things that I thought were a big deal in my past, and then seeing how far He’s brought me, it is super encouraging. Yes, there’s still the unknown, but to see that God has worked before encourages me that He will work again.
My mentor and friend Sarah always told me that when I began to feel anxious or worried, I should 1) think of Philippians 4:4-9 and 2) think of all the things I’m thankful for. When I think of the things I’m thankful for, whether that be people, my current place in life (despite the disparaging thoughts or emotions), or what I have, it becomes harder to be stuck in my mental and emotional unrest.
Read the Bible, Pray Your Emotions Out
Taylor suggested this to me when I was going through my mental unrest, and she even expressed how she knew it would probably be the last thing I wanted to do. And it is difficult to open up the Bible, and try to read it to encourage you out of your funk.
But I can’t say that there’s been a time when I opened the Bible for encouragement, and it has failed me. And praying has also helped.
It’s tempting to just wallow in your mental and emotional mess alone, and that is exactly what Satan wants us to do. He wants us to believe that we are alone, and that no one else will understand what we’re feeling.
But telling someone else what’s happening, as hard as it may be sometimes, is so important. It’s good to have someone encouraging you, and pointing you toward the Truth when you are so down you sometimes can’t see it or remember it.
So, say something. There are bound to be people in your life who care enough about you to want to help you get out of the dark place you’re in.
*Disclaimer: While these are things I suggest to do to move toward peaceful thoughts and emotions, I don’t want you to think about these as a magical formula that will always result in peace. Sometimes you do some or all of these things, and you still feel a little of that leftover unrest. That is normal. But moving a little past the unrest is better than just staying where you are. And, the Lord knows your heart and your hurt; it doesn’t mean that He’ll take it all away for you when you want it to, but it does mean He will assure you that He is there, and is working.
And that concludes mental and emotional rest! If I’m missing anything throughout this series, or if you have any comments about what I’ve written, please don’t hesitate to comment or message me! I’d love to talk about this in more depth.
Tomorrow, I’ll be finishing up this series on rest by discussing the most important rest of all: spiritual rest.
In order to have stable physical, mental, and emotional rest, I must be spiritually at rest. I must be focused and tuned in on the Lord for true rest, true peace to exist in my life.