6 Steps to Finding Mental, Spiritual, and Relational Health after Crisis, Change, or Disappointment

Pastor, Author, Podcast Cohost
Updated May 17, 2024
6 Steps to Finding Mental, Spiritual, and Relational Health after Crisis, Change, or Disappointment

The past few years have left so many of us reeling from job losses, losing loved ones, racial trauma, emotional trauma, isolation trauma—and everything in between. 

How do we start to pick up the pieces mentally, spiritually, and relationally after so much has changed? 

Just as the impact of mental health is multi-layered, so is the approach to finding health. Here are six initial steps you and your community can take:

Photo Credit: Image created using DALL.E 2024  AI technology and subsequently edited and reviewed by our editorial team.

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1. Find Healing Through Honest Grief and Prayer

Any time we experience difficulty or change, our bodies keep the score. If we want to move forward in healing, it is imperative that we learn how to share our pain and hurt with God. Lament, a biblical expression of crying out to God in grief, is the Christian’s response to pain. We lament for our own pain and for the pain of others. In Psalm 13, David laments, 

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death…” - Psalm 13:1-3

Do you see the honesty with which David spoke? Do you hear the depth of his pain? Can you feel the desperation in his voice? He did not hold back. By doing so, David began to experience healing from his hurt. Consider beginning a lamenting journal, forming a grief circle, or hosting a night of lament with your neighbors. As you lament, you’ll find God’s presence meeting you. 

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2. Seek Wise Counsel from Your People, and Professionals

After a season of challenge, change, or loss, it can be easy to remain disconnected from others and even from our own sense of self. We need wise voices to guide us, help us sift through our emotions, and empower us to take some initial steps toward healing. Proverbs 13:10 says it this way: 

“Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” 

Whenever our spiritual, mental, and relational worlds have gone through a major upheaval, there is wisdom in finding a therapist, talking to a safe friend, or sharing your burden with a pastor or a support group of some kind. In so doing, you’ll find strength and greater wholeness. 

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Group of Friends at a Coffee Shop

3. Avoid Isolation by Moving Towards Others

When we are hurting, it is easy to retreat in isolation. Returning to social gatherings can cause an understandable amount of anxiety. Events that used to be easy, like church, work, or parties, can be difficult to return to. But we were made for community, and we can find healing in safe spaces within relationships—even if it takes time. Like the apostle Paul encouraged the Thessalonians, we are called to “

"Encourage one another and build each other up.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:11

It is through our relationships with one another that we can begin to find the encouragement we need, especially in the midst of our collective new normal. If you’re struggling to be in the community, take a small step. Invite one friend over to sit on your back porch, or return to your favorite local spot for a few minutes. Be kind to yourself as you bravely step out toward others. 

Photo Credit: Image created using DALL.E 2024  AI technology and subsequently edited and reviewed by our editorial team.

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4. Take Inventory of Your Physical Health

It can be so difficult health to prioritize yourself and your needs. When you’ve been through a major life crisis, change, or disappointment, it’s so important to go back to the basics and practice things like drinking plenty of water, eating well, resting, avoiding alcohol and sugar-intake, refusing to engage in unhealthy sexual or romantic attachments, seeing a therapist (see number two), getting involved in a healthy church (see number three), taking walks for the vitamin D and the endorphin rush. 

In the thick of a mental crisis, these “basic” tasks that seem easy for others can feel like major milestones for you. But you are worth it. The New Testament reminds us that the body is a temple; that’s scripture’s way of saying your body is sacred. 

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” - 1 Cor. 6:19-20

Because Jesus paid the price on the cross, in his own body, for our sin, brokenness, and pain, we can—in his strength—make choices to honor God with our bodies. One way we do that is by taking care of ourselves. The good news of the gospel is that we don’t have to do this alone. We can ask the Spirit of God to help us with our weaknesses.

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5. Refuse to Shame Yourself, or Others

“Those who look to God are radiant; their faces are never covered in shame.” - Psalm 34:5

Lies about your “enoughness” or worth might creep in during a challenging trial. Remember that—those are lies. You can avoid shame by stepping into safe, vulnerable relationships, choosing to ignore negativity, and reminding yourself that you are loved by God, even in your struggles. 

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Group of friends encouraging each other.

6. Choose to Use Healing Words

Did you know that seeing a list of negative words, even for a few seconds will make a highly anxious or depressed person feel worse? The more you dwell on them, the more it will impact your brain and emotions. It will impact your ability to regulate your emotional and mental health. 

Dr Andrew Newberg and leadership expert Mark Waldman, pioneers in the field of neurotheology- a field that links spirituality and the brain- research together on the study of Words and our Brains. They say this about focusing on negative words:

“You will disrupt your sleep, your appetite, and your ability to experience long-term happiness and satisfaction....the more you engage in negative dialogue—at home or work—the more difficult it becomes to stop. (Dr. Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman)

On the other hand, recent research has shown that the mere repetition of positive words like love, peaceand compassion will turn on specific genes that lower your physical and emotional stress. According to Dr. Newberg and Waldman, “You’ll feel better, live longer, and build deeper and more trusting relationships with others, at home and at work.” 

The point is that words have physical ramifications on our souls, our bodies, our minds, our faith, and our mental, physical, and emotional health. So, choose words that will give you (and others) life.)

By embracing the practice of lament, seeking wise counsel, fostering community, returning to fundamental principles, refusing self-shame, and consciously selecting healing words, we can start to unravel the layers of pain and discover a path toward mental health and hope. 

Photo Credit: Image created using DALL.E 2024  AI technology and subsequently edited and reviewed by our editorial team.

Aubrey SampsonAubrey Sampson is a pastor, author, speaker, and cohost of the podcast, Nothing is Wasted. She is the author of Big Feeling Days, The Louder Song, Overcomer, and her newest release, Known. Find and follow her @aubsamp on Instagram. Go to aubreysampson.com for more. 

Originally published Friday, 17 May 2024.