Mental Health Requires These 3 Things

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My shoulder muscles are sore, and so they should be.

Yesterday I spent the day shoveling 6 m³ (7.8 yd³) of compost. As part of my gardening business, Gumboot Gardening, I am building a vegetable garden for a school and part of this has been building some raised growing beds.

Yesterday was the day to fill the beds with compost which left me with tired muscles.

I have learnt recently that when you are building muscle mass there will be pain as the muscles get stretched. No pain no gain I suppose. I am also learning that there needs to be recovery time where the muscles can heal and repair.

Here is some thing I want you to learn.

Mental Health doesn’t just fall into your lap.

You have to work at it.


To be mentally fit and healthy, the same principles apply as for physical health and fitness.

It doesn’t just fall out of the sky and present itself you as something quick and easy.

Mental health requires Effort, Patience, and Pain. Click to tweet


  1. Effort. Do you treat your mental health as seriously as perhaps an athlete treats their physical wellness. Enough that they are able to win that gold medal, break the world record, or just achieve their personal best. Athletes train hard, but they also focus on what they are consuming in their diet.

A mental health question.

What are you regularly taking into your mind?

Is it positive, uplifting, helpful. Would it meet Pauls criteria of things to think on?

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Philippians 4:8

In the past I have spent a lot of time listening and watching the news. I have decided to seriously cut back on the consumption of news. Last night made my mind up for me. The opening words from the news anchor were ‘It’s all down hill from here’. Do I really need this! Now I am not going to become a hermit and cut myself off from all current affairs, but seriously, do I need most of what the media determines to be newsworthy to fill my brain?

2. Patience. Some things … just … take … time. The change will happen but it will only happen when I am consistent in forming new habits over a long period of time.

It has been estimated that the average time for a behavior to become a habit is 66 days. I imagine that this would be the same with thinking habits.

It isn’t going to happen overnight but it will happen if we are consistent in repeating positive behaviors over an extended period. Here is a hint about habits. Make them small enough that they would be impossible to fail at.

3. Pain. No one wants pain or failure, but without failure we won’t learn and grow. Does fear of pain or failure hinder your stepping out and trying something new?

An acceptance that you will have failure and pain opens the door to learning.

I remember learning to ride a bike. I fell off. I scraped my knee. Did this stop me from trying again? No, I jumped back on and fell off and I did this again and again until I had mastered riding that bike.

‘Failure isn’t fatal’ and ‘there are no dumb questions’. Without these insights your learning will remain inhibited. David Riddell click to tweet

Writing this blog for 4 years has taught that I have to keep getting back on that bike of writing. Of learning the skill. Its painful at times wondering if what I am doing is actually making a difference to anyone. Then I get some feedback and that’s enough to get back on that bike and keep on writing.

Having good mental health requires effort, patience and pain. Most people can’t be bothered. Instead they settle for second or third or fourth best. They roll along with whatever comes along.

Barry Pearman

6 Markers of a Healthy Spirituality

Over my life I have been involved in many different styles of Christian denominational expression, or Ice Cream flavours as I like to say.

Staid conservative Bible fundamentalism, ‘swinging from the chandeliers’ Pentecostalism, social justice activism and many other ice cream flavours.

They all have strengths and weaknesses. 
Some aspects of all of them have been helpful to my Mental health while some aspects have been down right destructive.
People often ask me ‘What Church should I go to?’
I suppose I would answer this question with this statement.
‘A Church that keeps you grounded with reality, connects you with Biblical truth, is actively part of the local community, and promotes a healthy spirituality.’

David Benner provides 6 markers of a healthy spirituality[1]

1. Grounded in Reality, seeing things as they are.
There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality, for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with realities outside and above us. When our life feeds on unreality it must starve and die. The death by which we enter into life is not an escape from reality but a complete gift of ourselves which involves a total commitment to reality. Thomas Merton

It is the acceptance of what reality can and cannot fulfil that leads to real change because, short of the progressive destruction of illusion and consequent mourning, one cannot discover the world as it is. Donald Winnicott

Reality itself – my limited and sometimes misinterpreted experience -is the revelatory place for God. But for some reason we prefer fabricated realities to the strong and sensitizing face of what is. The spiritual life begins with accepting and living our reality. Richard Rohr

2. Awareness
The spiritual life is, first of all, a matter of keeping awake. Thomas Merton

We have to accept that we are all sleep walkers. We need to awaken and we need to learn to see. Spirituality is about seeing. Once you see, the rest follows. Jesus tells us that if our eye is healthy our whole body will be full of light. Richard Rohr

3. Hopeful openness

  • To life, to others and to God

The most important question each person has to answer -“is the universe friendly?” Einstein

4. Loving connectedness

  • Connectedness with others, with the earth, with God
  • Interdependency, compared to codependency and independency

5. Transcendent meaningfulness

  • Making sense of personal reality in a way that gives direction and purpose to life
  • Having a framework to make sense of failure and suffering
  • Making suffering sufferable
  • Movement beyond egocentricity and entitlement
  • Capacity for grace and gratitude

6. Capacity for love, work and play

  • Altruistic attitude toward others
  • Sense of vocation
  • Spontaneity and playfulness

Questions to Consider and leave a comment.

  • How would you answer the question ‘What Church should I go to?’
  • What would be the signs for you of a Healthy Spirituality?
  • In what ways can Mental Illness rob you of a Healthy Spirituality?
  • In what ways can Mental Illness actually lead you to a Healthy Spirituality?

Barry Pearman
Photo Credit: Cayusa via Compfight cc

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