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Maintaining Mental Health

After reading last week’s blog, one of my close friends commented about her husband’s “hellish experience” with benzodiazepine withdrawal. Her caution is wise; using drugs to address mental illness is a personal decision between the individual and his/her healthcare provider, one that needs to be considered carefully and prayerfully for potential addiction, withdrawal challenges, or further impacts on a person’s state of mind.

Healthy Life

Healthy Life

In a seminar last weekend, Dr. Jeremiah Johnston shared ten tips for maintaining mental health. While there are situations where more direct intervention or care are required, these seem like good guidelines for normal life situations and speak to me. Here is the list.

  1.  Say “no” more often. This is hard for me. A pleaser by nature, I want to say yes to those I love. But my schedule fills up so fast that I lack time to be still, to rest, to enjoy the day. I said “no” to two things this week. It felt good, freeing.
  2. Take frequent, short sabbaticals. Jesus said “Come apart and rest awhile.” This doesn’t have to be a month, a week, even days. Don and I sometimes go out for a relaxed breakfast on the beach. That brief time of “coming apart” refreshes us in body and spirit.
  3. Develop and sustain peer support. Last summer four college girlfriends and I spent a couple of days together after not being all together for forty-three years. What a joy! My “Fab Friday” Bible study gals are a tremendous support; and my close girlfriends have walked with me through joy and sorrow. I am grateful for each of them.
  4. Monitor the balance between work and personal life. This is a tough one for me. Always has been. Still working on it even though I’m retired.
  5. Establish and adjust priorities based on a periodic review of your values. What needless things are taking up real estate in my mind and heart?
  6. Proof your thoughts against scripture. The apostle Paul challenges us to “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.” Philippians 4:8.
  7. Regularly assess your spiritual fitness. Am I spending time letting God’s word infuse my mind and heart? Am I allowing God to change me through what I read and hear?
  8. Never make a decision when tired or discouraged. I’ve learned this one. When I’m really down, my first corrective is generally rest.
  9. Prioritize your physical health. Am I eating healthy? Am I getting some exercise to help my body balance and work out stress?
  10. Watch where you park your mind. This ties in with #6 above. Romans 12:1-2 tells me that renewing my mind comes from being changed from the inside out.

Great list. I plan to review it periodically.

Is there one of these that is the most challenging for you? What can you do do address that issue?


  1. Karen O'Connor says:

    Carol, I’m so glad you posted this list. I was out of town when the seminar took place. I was happy to see that I am doing well with most of the items. For example, I said ‘no’ this week to an editing project and had no problem doing so. Yippee! I do get tempted by #10 from time to time but the verse you cited from Romans is one I often return to and it sets me straight again. Thank you for your blog. Very timely.

    1. carolnl says:

      Thanks, Karen. Good for you for tracking yourself and saying “no” without guilt! Glad this was timely for you. It sure has been for me as well.

  2. KATHY KERWIN says:

    Hi Carol and Don,
    Another well written article on a subject we sometimes don’t face head on.Depression is complicated and different for everyone. Keep writing these articles you are helping many people. Be nice to catch up in person sometime. Your darling Kelli and Paige so cute. Blessings, Kathy Kerwin

    1. carolnl says:

      It is indeed, Kathy. I appreciate your feedback and look forward to catching up in person. Blessings!

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