One Thing I Do to Improve My Mental Health as a Christian Therapist

As with life, highs and lows, tragedies and excitements, trials and redemptions are normal. No one is born with the readiness to handle such things. Though there are several tools, there are no guarantees and no perfect formula for all of life. Here is one thing I do to improve my mental health as a Christian therapist.

Narrowing down the tools I’ve used over the past decades was a struggle, but to keep it simple I wanted to select just one. Keep in mind, this one has many by its side throughout every situation isn’t a cure-all. To select the most effective tool, over the years I’ve decidedly used the Bible as my sieve to week out the tools and pieces of advice that lead to nowhere.

Doesn’t a therapist have the advantage?

You might ask, “Does training to be a therapist make a difference?” The answer is “yes,” and “no.”

There’s an advantage to training for something. In this case, it gives greater exposure to a wide variety of tools. There’s also the requirement to practice putting this wide collection of mechanisms for battling mental health woes to use. Simply put, being a Christian therapist means one is likely to have been doing this longer and know a bit more about tools that do and don’t work than the average person.

There’s also a real chance that there is absolutely no advantage to training as a therapist in the way of knowing how to improve one’s mental health. What training provides is exposure to many different tools and areas of thought about what might help with each struggle. Anyone can gain exposure to as much or even more of these tools in their everyday lives.

That being said, the world cannot offer any better wisdom than God. So simply spending more time studying the Bible can lead one to have a greater advantage over a trained professional. Finally, there’s no end to practicing the tools, they are lifetime assistants for everyone, and many develop the art of them naturally.

The one thing

One thing I do to improve my mental health as a Christian therapist, above all others, is to focus on connection. Every high and low in mental health brings the temptation to disconnect. Whether it be to God or others, connection matters most in improving, balancing, and weathering the ups and downs of our mental health.

Our mental health consists of our thoughts and emotions. Our emotions set off like alarms to tell us something is happening. Our thoughts decide what to make of it and then our behavior follows. I’ll explain more about how to engage the tool of connection, below.

Connection to God

Each time you experience the elated, happier-than-can-be feeling, you may have no thought of trouble. Why bother working on our mental health when everything seems grand? This is where the temptation to disconnect comes in.

The messages of this temptation come with some variation of “I don’t need God right now,” and so we relax our diligence in connecting with God and are vulnerable to the inevitable trial to come. Feeling that mountain high is a great indicator that it is time to connect with God through praise and worship.

Similarly, when you feel the alarm of anxiousness ringing loudly in your ears, this is the time to connect with God through prayer. Use anger as a reminder to wrestle with the Spirit in your own space (Proverbs 4:4). Use the sadness alarm as a reminder to lament.

Connection to others

Connection with others is next in importance. When our emotions and mental health seem to be in the clouds, alerting us that all is well, we can be tempted to disconnect from others just as much as from God. The message comes across within as, “I am having too much fun to connect with them, maybe later.” The emotional alarm of happiness and contentment is helpful if we use it as a reminder to connect with and invest in other people.

If your anxious alarm is going off, use it as a reminder to reach out for prayer. This connection with others is an opportunity to feed the good and helpful thoughts. Try to resist venting or emoting on others which weakens the connection.

If it’s anger that’s sounding the alarm, use connection with others to communicate the need for space. Schedule a time for reunification or for that person to check in with you. Neither isolation nor pursuing a fight will build connection.

As for sadness, this alarm can be helpful when used as a reminder to reach out for prayer. Similar to anxiety, praying with others is an opportunity to develop the good and helpful thoughts that are necessary for improving mental health.

Keep connected

Everyone can benefit from having a space and time to talk things out. Whether it be to gain a new perspective or to find direction. Connecting with God and others is an intentional regular practice for all levels of mental health.

It is one thing I do to improve my mental health as a Christian therapist. It looks like having a time with God through prayer, meditation, and Scripture reading. It also looks like having a person or small group of people to talk with.

If you are looking for or in need of a therapist to be this connection for you, connect with us online. Connection may be just one out of many tools, but it is a powerful one. It is accessible to all with the most basic to the most pressing mental health needs. Keep connected.

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3 Steps to Start Getting Your Mental Health Back

Christians who struggle with mental health experience a multitude of symptoms. One of the biggest hurdles to starting to improve mental health functioning is a shame complex.

Shame says, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way.” This message can come from ourselves or those around us. No matter where the shame comes from, it creates a trap. This trap leads to isolation and isolation increases mental health issues.

Another message created from shame is any variation of “I don’t deserve to be better,” or “I’m not good enough.” These messages are more unhealthy self-talk that, again, leads Christians into a trap and more isolation.

A final variation of the messages the shame complex creates is slightly different from the first two. It’s the message of “I can’t shake it.” The shame that results from this is similar to “I’m not good enough” but it destroys any last bit of hope one may be grasping at. This message for the Christian, however, is more easily overcome than the first two in light of the following truths of Christianity:

  • God’s timing, not your timing.
  • God’s timing, not other’s timing.
  • There’s grace for that.

To overcome the shame complex and start getting your mental health back on track, you have to start focusing your mind on Christian messages like these. To break it down even further, here are three steps to start improving your mental health: evaluate, build, and connect.

  1. Evaluate your situation

To start getting your mental health back, you have to know how far gone it is. Take some time over the next week to evaluate how ingrained the negative mental habits are by asking “How long have I been thinking this way and battling these emotions?”

Another way to evaluate is to take notes about how pervasive the negative thoughts and emotions have become. Ask yourself, “Has this impacted my relationships? My daily life? My output at work? Are there any thought patterns I’ve noticed are repeating? How has my general mood been?” Finally, in taking the time to evaluate your current mental health status, if you are a Christian, you have a few extra questions to ask yourself.

The additional questions start with this: “Even if the problem with my mental health starts with someone else, is it really just a mental health issue or is it instead a heart issue?” The Christian’s heart needs constant examination. We may find a plank of bitterness, lack of grace, pride, selfishness, idolatry, and other sins blinding us to the best way to remedy the situation between us and another. The Bible’s teaching is your key, here.

If the problem with another continues to happen, we as Christians need to keep going to God, our heart doctor for both frequent heart checkups and support. A second step in this type of evaluation is to get a second opinion. This second opinion can come in the form of a pastor, a trusted Christian mentor, or a Christian therapist who can help you figure out what type of issue it is.

  1. Build the right supports

To start getting your mental health back, you must have support. With the shame complex, and any number of emotions, it can feel difficult to plug into support-especially the right supports. As difficult as it may be, to start getting your mental health back this year needs to be the year where you work on avoiding isolation.

Avoiding isolation may mean cutting screen time and getting in front of people in real life. It may also mean ditching the people who make you feel good but aren’t healthy for you.

Adding to the support of actual connections with healthy people in real life are routines and accountability. What you consume while trying to get your mental health back matters most. Take small bites of those healthier habits and over time you’ll grow in satisfaction. Look over all of your routines, from daily to weekly and beyond to adjust toward the goal over time and in every way.

Examples of “right supports” for getting your mental health back include, but are not limited to:

  • Reading the Bible (not a devotional).
  • Communing with and involving yourself with a fellowship group.
  • Develop a prayer team for yourself.
  • Attend church service in person weekly.
  • Play worship music.

These examples may seem less desirable or even trivial at this time. You may even think that you’re engaging with all or most of those supports and things are still hard. For the Christian, these supports are trustworthy and timeless. If these are in place and you feel you need even more support to start getting your mental health back, consider whether it is time to get counsel from a pastor or Christian therapist to see what else is missing.

  1. Connect with counsel

A final part of my top three ways to start getting your mental health back this year is to connect with wise counsel. Council adds to the daily and weekly supportive activities you already have been doing or are starting.

The more intense the needs of your mental health, or the more impactful your needs are, the more layers of support they will require. There is no guarantee or perfect formula but, generally speaking, counseling for the Christian increases from reading the Bible on your own, to talking with friends and family, to seeing a general practitioner or pastor for counseling, to seeing a specialist (therapist).

You may find benefit, as many do, in engaging in all of these levels of counsel. The source of counsel matters. For marriage, keep it out of the family ties unless following the teaching of the Bible to address a specific situation. For the Christian, it is important to check all counsel against the Word (even the counsel in this article).

Building support and counsel from the basics up diminishes variables of what could be missing and boosts mental health to weather the most difficult circumstances. These include trauma, physical deficits, difficult relationships, etc. All of which negatively impact mental health.

Take the time to work through these three steps to start getting your mental health back this year. If you want someone to help you with these steps or know you need a therapist to work with you, contact us at

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9 Benefits of Life Coaching

Life coaching, as a practice, has not been something that people have traditionally considered for their self-development. Throughout history, coaching has primarily been associated with sports.

We have marveled at how athletes credit their coaches for helping them become the best versions of themselves. However, this concept has now extended to various areas of our lives, making it possible to have a coach for any aspect of life.

Coaching can be defined as a practical strategy that helps individuals improve their performance. A coach serves as a facilitator of growth and learning, rather than an expert in the client’s field. The coach’s role is to guide their clients toward progress and unlock their untapped potential.

Unlike counseling or therapy, which often delves into the past, coaching focuses on the present. It asks questions such as: Where are we now? Where do we want to go? How do we get there? While counseling and coaching can work together, with counseling addressing past psychological barriers, coaching helps individuals reach new heights once those barriers have been addressed.

In today’s world, coaching is available for all areas of life. It depends on individuals to determine in which areas they want to empower themselves. Coaching can be sought for relationships, finances, career, dieting, fitness, and practically any area where one wants to enhance one’s abilities. Coaches are trained professionals who may specialize in a specific field or take a more generalized approach.

Why coaching is important.

People seek the services of a coach for various reasons. Here are some advantages of having a coach in our lives:

Conflict resolution strategies.

Sometimes, when we don’t know how to resolve conflicts, we can feel stuck. Coaching empowers us to develop better conflict resolution strategies by asking the right questions, challenging our thinking, and offering alternative options.

Professional and leadership development.

Advancing professionally comes with challenges. Coaching can help navigate these challenges and develop leadership styles. By identifying strengths and providing insight into weaknesses or blind spots, a coach brings out the best in individuals as they lead others.

Goal definition, creation, and clarity.

Coaching provides individuals with insight into their goals and assesses their current ability to achieve them. Based on this assessment, a strategy is formed considering skills, reality, values, and vision.

Creating or managing change.

Navigating change without support can be challenging. Coaches step in during chaotic times, realistically evaluating the situation and helping clients develop new habits, insights, and actions that enable them to cope and thrive in the face of change.

Improved relationships.

As coaching progresses, clients acquire effective communication skills, mature conflict resolution abilities, and commitment. This, in turn, improves both personal and professional relationships.

Provision of accountability and encouragement.

Having someone who checks on us and provides feedback and motivation can make a significant difference. Coaches are invested in their client’s success and offer the necessary support. They are there not only during smooth times but also provide encouragement when clients face obstacles.


Through questioning and assessments, coaching facilitates self-discovery and self-awareness. Knowing our authentic selves allows us to make informed decisions about our life trajectories.

Fine-tuning skills.

Success requires a variety of skills. To excel in our chosen fields, we need to refine and improve these skill sets, ultimately enhancing our performance.

Confidence and autonomy.

Confidence is something for which we all strive – to be secure in who we are and what we can achieve. Coaching provides an opportunity to learn, grow, question, and gain exposure to different perspectives. All these aspects contribute to building confidence as clients take ownership of their lives.

Professional life coaching

If you find yourself in a place where you believe the services of a coach would be beneficial, reach out to us today at Huntington Beach Christian Counseling. The qualified professionals in California are ready to assist you in becoming the best version of yourself.

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Anger in the Bible: A Helpful Corrective for Unhealthy Anger

If you’ve ever felt angry at someone or a situation, you probably know how powerful the emotion of anger is. It can color your perception of a situation or person, and it can motivate you to take action to fix whatever has gone wrong. As we look at anger in the Bible, we see that the action may or may not be appropriate, and it may or may not be wise.

For example, you can decide to start a campaign to address child hunger in your city because you’re angered at the injustice of it all, or you can get out of your car and assault a fellow motorist because their terrible driving triggered you. The same emotion can drive helpful and constructive behavior, but it can propel you toward harming others just as easily.

Anger in the Bible

The Bible presents a complex picture of anger. Being angry itself isn’t necessarily a problem because anger is a natural emotion whose reality you ought to embrace. Your anger lets you know that somewhere in your life something is not what it should be, so you should pay attention to it. However, because anger is such a powerful emotion, care should be taken not to be overwhelmed by anger and say or do the first thing that comes to mind.

This nuanced approach to anger is captured in two key Bible verses. In Ephesians Paul writes: “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:26-27, NIV) Being angry is not the same thing as sinning or falling short of God’s intentions for your life.

You can be angry, but what matters is what you then do with those feelings and thoughts. You can do constructive and godly things with it, or you can slander others or cause them physical harm. Holding onto anger for too long is also problematic, as that can affect how you relate to others. Lingering in anger longer than necessary is a recipe for relationship problems.

Another Bible verse to consider is in James: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20, NIV) Anger is a visceral impulse that demands immediate attention. When you feel angry, you feel like you want to do something about it now.

Being slow to anger and allowing yourself to first listen to the other person and not respond hastily indicates that you, not your anger, are in control.

What is it about ‘human anger’ that’s so problematic? Anger can stem from an entirely self-centered place, and we can leverage it to do terrible things to others. That’s why anger must take a back seat to other considerations.

What James says here echoes another Bible passage that tells us about God’s character: “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” (Psalms 86:15, NIV) This verse also comes up in Exodus 34, indicating what God is like, and we are called to imitate Him. Being slow to anger is a sign of a godly character.

Learning to deal with anger

Anger and the things that cause anger are a fact of life. It’s important to acknowledge that reality, and to learn how to rein anger in so that its expression is constructive and healthy. If you struggle with controlling anger, or if your life is marked by feeling angry most or all the time, you may have an anger problem that needs attention. You can begin dealing with anger through a few simple self-help techniques, which include the following:

Exercise, which helps you take your mind off whatever made you angry, and helps you work off the adrenalin and cortisol in your system.

Take a breath. Don’t respond immediately to an email or comment; count to ten and breathe in deeply to calm yourself. You can even walk away if necessary

Use humor to diffuse the situation. It’s okay to laugh at yourself for taking things too seriously.

Learn your anger triggers. When you know what makes you angry, you can better prepare for those situations.

With the help of an anger management therapist, you can learn to handle anger better, grow in empathy toward others, become a more effective communicator, and reap the health and relational benefits of having your anger well in hand.

Your therapist can help you better understand the roots of your anger. They can also provide you with added tools to disrupt unhelpful patterns of thought and behavior that fuel angry thoughts. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help today to get your anger under control. The counselors at Huntington Beach Christian Counseling are here to help. Browse our online counselor directory to find a therapist for you.

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Thriving as a Highly Sensitive Person

The chaos of the world can be overwhelming for those who are deemed to be highly sensitive. A highly sensitive person (HSP) reacts differently to the environment around them. Most of the time an HSP will be someone who is highly particular about details.

They want to know the cause and effect of any given situation. The emotional intelligence of someone who is an HSP is much higher than most of the people around them.

It is possible for highly sensitive people to learn how to excel in life with their sensitivity. By understanding themselves and their reactions, a highly sensitive person can thrive just as they were designed to.

HSP is a personality trait that is connected to the way the brain engages in sensory processing. This means that a highly sensitive person can thrive and grow in a lifestyle that accents the gift of sensitivity.

Most people who find they are highly sensitive have done this by becoming more aware of how they live life in comparison to others. Self-identifying as an HSP means that you have an inner awareness of your increased response to people, places, and things around you whether they are positive or negative.

What it looks like to be a highly sensitive person.

Because you are highly sensitive, you experience the world differently than others. You can notice things others don’t. You are sensitive not only to words, sounds, or sights that you hear from others, but you are also awestruck when it comes to the beauty of God’s creation. You have a deep level of emotions and thoughts, which causes you to appreciate the value of being alone to rejuvenate your soul.

The characteristics of being a highly sensitive person affect you positively and negatively. They cause you to react differently because of exposure that can overwhelm your senses. Here are just a few of those behavioral characteristics.

  • Big crowds tend to overwhelm you. Not because you are shy, but because there is so much going on at once. A highly sensitive person will take on the emotions around them and this causes them to become exhausted.
  • Changes and transitions cause you to experience anxiety. You are not comfortable when you feel like you are out of control. Because of change and not being able to get everything done in your normal way, you feel a loss of confidence.
  • Criticism affects you deeply. Because you do not like to experience the negative, you will use any means to avoid criticism. People pleasing becomes your way of avoiding being criticized.
  • Changes and conditions in your body is more noticeable as an HSP. You tend to be aware of the taste of food as well as the pain of headaches in a more heightened way that others.
  • Because of all the energy it takes when you are in a chaotic place, you find that you need more downtime.
  • Many may think you are shy or an introvert because you have a hard time performing any type of task in front of others. Public speaking puts you on alert for criticizing yourself. As an HSP you do not want to be criticized, so you feel like you will fail when you perform in public.
  • Medication, caffeine, and pain are a few things to which you are highly reactive You may have to take less medication than others because your body reacts differently to the dosage that most people can take. Caffeine is much the same.
  • Because you notice so much more around you than others, you tend to overthink and worry about things others have not even considered.

This is not a complete list, but it is the bulk of what types of behavioral characteristics a highly sensitive person will exhibit.

The goodness of being a Highly Sensitive Person.

When you accept that you are a highly sensitive person, you can find inner peace and completeness, knowing God can use your gift of enhanced sensitivity to bring Him glory. You can use this to thrive as you relate to the escalated senses that you have. Productively using this trait means that you have come to understand how it relates to your environment.

How can I use being an HSP to help others?

Emotional Intelligence. When it comes to being highly sensitive, your emotional intuition is higher than normal. You find that you can get an internal feeling about the room you are in and the people around you.

You have a deep thought life and you hold the emotions that go with those thoughts. It is in this inner peace that you truly know the Spirit of God. As you are in tune with this you are also able to understand the spiritual need of others.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. – 2 Peter 1:2, NIV

Heightened Intuition. High sensitivity comes with heightened sense of intuition. This means that you will have a heightened awareness of the things around you. Because of this you find yourself aware of those around you and how they are feeling.

You step in with the support they need encouraging them to seek the hope that we don’t always see. You bring the love of God to those around you in a way that builds their faith.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7, NIV

Emotions run deep. As a highly sensitive person, you will find that your sense of compassion and empathy runs deeper than you would like to experience sometimes. You can become engulfed with heartache for those around you.

On the other end of the spectrum, you will also find that you can be overcome with joy. This aspect of being an HSP is how you can positively impact those around you in a way that they know the truth of God’s word.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32, NIV

Appreciation for creation. Most of the time a highly sensitive person will have a deep appreciation for the beautiful things around them. Whether it is music, art or the simple creation of the wind and leaves, you can get lost in the tranquility of seeing the beauty of God’s creation and gifts. Because of this you are able to find goodness and joy in the small things. This trait allows you to help others see the goodness of God even when they are hurting.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. – 2 Corinthians 9:8, NIV

Details are never hidden. A highly sensitive person will always see the things that most people miss. Because you are paying attention to everything around you, there is very little that you don’t notice.

This characteristic helps you see what is going on in your environment. You tend to make any space a safe and loving place. God designed you to see the things that others do not so you can help in ways they are not able to see.

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.Proverbs 2:6-8, NIV

How do I cope with being highly sensitive?

There are many things that you can do to help you cope with your sensitivity. It doesn’t have to be a bad experience. By understanding the traits of being a highly sensitive person, you can apply those to every aspect of life in a way that will help you thrive.

Understand it as a gift. We know that God has created each of us as unique individuals. Being highly sensitive is no different than being mechanically inclined. It is a gift that can be used to help others truly see who God is and how much he loves them.

“See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills –  to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.Exodus 31:2-5, NIV

Honor what it is and be mindful. Take into consideration how you can see the creation of God. Because you notice the in depth beauty of the world you live in, you can share it in ways that others cannot. Give thanks that you are able to notice the beauty that many take for granted.

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. – Psalm 105:1-2, NIV

Rest and appreciate the time to reflect. Being highly sensitive can sometimes lead to exhaustion so it is important that you learn to rest. During these times of rest, reflect on the goodness of the gift and connect with God. Take time to hear what God is saying to you. Listen for His still, small voice of instructions for your life.

for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. – Hebrews 4:10-11, NIV

Being highly sensitive does not have to be a negative part of your life. You can thrive and live a very fulfilled life by understanding the trait and how to apply God’s Word to your life. If you feel overwhelmed and need someone to talk to you as you navigate using your sensitivity in a positive way, reach out to a Christian counselor. There are many who are willing to help you create a faith-based plan to become a thriving highly sensitive person.

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Counseling for Spiritual Development: Faith in the Storm

We can all recall times in our life when our faith was tested and we fell to our knees and asked, “Why is this happening to me?”

The reality is, we are offered two choices when something goes awry, 1) let our frustration turn to anger and steal our joy, or 2) get on our knees and ask God to use this situation for good.

  • Maybe your bills are behind, and you feel completely defeated.
  • Maybe your best friend just told you she is moving 2,000 miles away.
  • Maybe you felt so certain of your career calling and now that calling feels so foreign.
  • Maybe your parents are now in an assisted living facility or have asked to move in with you to help with long-term care.
  • Maybe your spouse is deployed or is a first responder struggling with PTSD.
  • Maybe you have a child with special needs and feel so tired and overwhelmed, you do not know where to turn.
  • Maybe you have been battling thoughts of depression but are so overwhelmed and filled with guilt, you do not know how to ask for help.
  • Maybe you are the parent of a newborn trying to figure out how to function with no sleep, emotions are overwhelming and foreign, and have an unfinished to-do list that could reach the moon.
  • Maybe you are feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders and feel like you are succumbing to the darkness and do not know how to let the light back in.

Take a long, deep breath. Put your hand over your heart and remember that God created you. He created you, loves you, and wants the very best for you.

As you walk through whatever obstacles are on your current journey, take to heart these reminders of God’s plans for you:

God’s Word says He will not abandon you.

Isaiah 41:10 reminds us, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

  • You might feel alone in the waiting room as you await test results.
  • You might feel alone as you hear the words, “You experienced a miscarriage.”
  • You might feel alone if your spouse is struggling with PTSD.
  • You might feel alone as you long for that pregnancy test to finally read “positive.”
  • You might feel alone as you walk the entryway to knock on the door to have a long overdue conversation with someone you have been distant from/angry with.
  • You might feel alone in the shower as the tears stream down your face after a terrible bout of depression.
  • You might feel alone as you sit with a pile of overdue bills, wondering how in the world things are going to be okay.

Rest assured, dear one – you are not alone.

  • God is in the waiting room, ready to hold your hand.
  • God is present for the awkward and uncomfortable conversations, ready to set the tone and soften hearts.
  • God is with you while your spouse is deployed, ready to give you a peace that comes only from Him.
  • God is with you as you battle anxiety, ready to comfort you and strengthen your faith and dependence on Him.
  • God is with you during the middle-of-the-night rocking and feeding sessions with a newborn, ready to give you the strength to endure another sleepless night.
  • God is ready to comfort you during those moments of defeat.
  • God is ever-present through every season and feeling that we endure.

Affirmations for faith

Write these down and memorize them as a reminder that God is right there with you through this tiring season:

  • I can take things one step at a time. (Matthew 6:34)
  • I know God’s love and spirit will guide me through this uncomfortable season. (John 16:13)
  • I am thankful for the gift of today. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
  • I know that God loves and cherishes me. (Isaiah 54:10)
  • I believe in God’s endless possibilities for me. (Luke 1:37)
  • I am open and willing to receive all the ways God wants to bless and teach me. (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

We must arm ourselves with God’s Word to build faith.

If there is one thing that we can be certain of, it is that Satan wants us to feel defeated. He wants us to wallow in the guilt and frustrations that come our way and make us feel inferior. He wants us to feel depleted, alone, and insignificant.

1 Peter 5:8 reminds us, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

  • You are not alone.
  • You are not too broken.
  • You are not damaged goods.
  • You are not too weak.
  • You are worthy of love.
  • You are special, unique, and beautiful!

When Satan tries to whisper lies, you need to be dressed in your “spiritual armor.” Spending time in God’s Word, memorizing Scripture, having community with other believers, and spending time talking to God are all powerful weapons to stand up and ward off the lies Satan tries to tell you.

If this feels overwhelming, take baby steps.

Read the Bible.

Download a Bible app and start by looking at the verse of the day. There are unique plans you can search by topic (anxiety, depression, hope, healing, etc.). This is a wonderful and guided way to get in the Word without feeling too overwhelmed with where to start.

Find an accountability partner.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” It is essential to have other believers to encourage us, pray for/with us, and walk alongside us in life. The world is dark, and we need to find rays of sunshine wherever we can. Serve with your accountability partner. Have in-depth and authentic conversations where emotional barriers are torn down. Attend a Bible study together.

Try the “one step” mindset.

When life and circumstances feel overwhelming, take the one step approach. Take things one day at a time. Approach the person you feel distant from with one conversation. Start tackling your debt one bill at a time. Start trying to reconnect with your spouse one intentional moment at a time. Chase your God-given passions by simply taking the first step – sign up for the class, sign up to serve, or start writing a book by just sitting down for one hour at a time.

Address the things you have been ignoring.

I think we all have a desire to simply “leave things alone” and from there, the problems will disappear. While God does have perfect timing for our life and circumstances, we must trust Him with the process by surrendering our worries to Him. We must choose healing for our past wounds.

The baggage from your past can range from unhealthy habits and coping mechanisms, to negative self-talk, to enduring the pain and shame from trauma. You do not have to walk this road alone. Do not let Satan tell you that the things that have happened to you are keeping you from following God’s beautiful purpose for your life.

Moving forward in faith.

You can begin this new journey of moving forward instead of hiding your past.

Start journaling. Write down the things you are thankful for, looking forward to, and the things that have been holding you down and trying to steal your joy. You might find that writing it down really helps you process your thoughts and reset your focus.

Remember that you are not alone. God is with you, and He puts people in your path to help you move forward in your faith and healing journey. Today is the perfect time to schedule a counseling session with a counselor at our office who wants to help encourage and equip you to move forward with a faith that can withstand the storms of life.

Find the glimmers of hope. No matter what storm you are facing right now, look for the glimmers of hope – the meal that someone drops off, the kindness of a random stranger, the timeliness of a message at church, the anonymous gift card that is left in your mailbox. Find the glimmers and try to send some glimmers to those around you.

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Breaking Free from the Perfectionism and Anxiety Cycle

It is one thing to strive for excellence in our lives. But when the exertion turns into the quest for perfectionism, it becomes a beast that can drive our motivations and cause difficulties in our work-life relationships. Anxiety can rise and cause a vicious cycle. But you can break free from the perfectionism and anxiety cycle with a Christian counselor’s help.

What is perfectionism?

Perfectionism is a person’s concern with flawlessness accompanied by critical self-evaluation and hyper-concern over others’ evaluation. It can lead us to be overly critical and judgmental of ourselves and others. Alternately, perfectionism can push us to do our best as we strive for maximum performance.

The trick is to be aware of when we tilt too far and begin to demand expectations from ourselves and others that are impossible to meet. No one is perfect and no one can be perfect. Mistakes help us learn and grow. Failure opens doors to new opportunities.

Some of the behaviors associated with perfectionism are an excessive concern for mistakes and errors, critical self-evaluations, and unrealistic expectations. Perfectionism concerns itself with the discrepancy between one’s expectations and performance. If we struggle with this, sometimes we project an image of flawlessness, which compounds the problem because we know deep down we are not flawless. This internal battle can create anxiety.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, a sense of uneasiness, dread, or distress. Normal levels of anxiety help us notice danger to keep us safe.

We will ask someone to hold a ladder while we climb it. We recognize that it’s good to teach our kids basic safety skills in the kitchen. These are good expressions of a healthy level of anxiety. Disorders occur when distress impedes our ability to function at work or in our relationships.

Anxiety will often reveal itself in through physical symptoms such as gasps for air, a rapid heartbeat, or insomnia. Sometimes what we refuse to think about in the daytime keeps us up at night through worry loops. In these loops, we repeat the same what-if questions like a broken record playing the same part of a song. Too much anxiety raises our cortisol levels and blood pressure, which affects our physical health.

We can become anxious when we dwell on the uncertainties of the future. We don’t know what the future will hold and anxieties about it can overwhelm us. Real events can trigger an anxious response too. Some doctor’s visits don’t carry good news. Inflation is a real problem. Family conflicts can break our hearts and contribute to anxiety. Our desire for a conflict-free life can drive our levels of anxiety up.

The perfectionism and anxiety cycle.

Perfectionism and anxiety work together to create unhealthy patterns in our lives. They have a cause-and-effect relationship. Perfectionism drives us to chase unreachable goals which lead to anxiety. An uptick in anxiety can drive us to extreme self-criticism, a sign of perfectionism, which leads us to more anxiety. Self-criticism with perceived failure heightens anxiety.

Fears of criticism from others increase anxiety in work performance or hold us back in social situations. We might stifle our opinions because we’re afraid of potential criticism. This builds anxiety within us and drives us further to perfectionism. This perfectionism and anxiety cycle plays on our fear of failure.

Anxiety and perfectionism can lead to low self-esteem where our desire for flawlessness can cause us to believe that we don’t have good to offer others. These thoughts can cripple us and set up unrealistic expectations for ourselves, which can lead to an overly defensive reaction when someone offers us feedback on our work performance or in our personal relationships.

What does the Bible say about perfectionism and anxiety?

When we consider what the Bible says about perfection and anxiety, we can be left confused and riddled with guilt. We know we’re not to be anxious, yet we struggle with it. Then we wonder how to not be riddled with anxiety. Later, we read that we are to be made perfect in Jesus, but we know we’re not because each day leaves evidence of our imperfection. How do we make sense of these words?

Therefore, you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. – Matthew 5:38, ESV

This statement from Jesus came at the end of a section from The Sermon on the Mount. He opened that sermon series with a list of Beatitudes, followed by how the law was fulfilled, and how to deal with anger, divorce, oaths, and retaliation.

Jesus’ sermon turned their beliefs about these issues upside down. He did not command them or us to be perfectionists. Instead, He tells us that one day we will be complete, but in the meantime to grow and mature in His ways.

For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. – Hebrews 10:14, ESV

Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, believers are considered perfect in God’s eyes. At the same time, we experience sanctification—cleaned up, made new, set apart as holy—while we walk with Him through our days.

Perfectionism isn’t the goal, obedience to God and focus on the day when He makes us wholly perfect in our eternal home is. In the meantime, the work of Jesus in each of us has the full power to bring about life transformation.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7, ESV

Peace sounds far off when we’re in anxiety’s grip. But the command to not be anxious about anything can feel impossible when our heart races and stomach flip-flops. It’s in these moments when the rest of the passage lays out a plan for us to consider.

Supplication means to humbly petition. It’s difficult for a perfectionist who struggles with anxiety to admit flaws, but there is great peace and power when we recognize that we are not and cannot be perfect. We can bring our requests before the Lord in prayer and receive the peace He gives.

How to cope with perfectionism and anxiety.

When you explore your personality, you will begin to understand your God-given nature. When we understand it and how to use it in an appropriate manner, we grow. We can identify our tendencies and then take a moment to reset our expectations for ourselves. This helps release the anxiousness that arises when we don’t meet them.

We can learn to be flexible and less perfectionistic when we realize that God made us different from each other because He has an individual purpose for us in the body of Christ. When we lay down our unrealistic expectations of what that looks like and seek Him with our whole heart instead of perfect outcomes, we experience release from the persistent cycle of perfectionism and anxiety.

When we have a heart that is right before God, the perfectionism and anxiety cycle begins to break. It’s possible to portray perfection in what we do or how we look, but that distracts us from what God wants to accomplish in our hearts.

Perfect in heart means that we grow ever closer to the Lord as we put into practice the Biblical knowledge we already have. He covers our mistakes with His forgiveness and is interested more in our obedience than our contribution to perfect outcomes.

The desire to want to do everything well honors the Lord, but when we find our worth in what we do rather than in who we are in Christ, we experience perfectionism and anxiety. God calls us to find our worth in Him and allow Him to mold and shape us to reflect His glory in our lives. He provides a way for us to let go of the anxiousness that comes because of our misplaced understanding of perfectionism. We can rely on Him to help us overcome.

If you need additional support for perfectionism and anxiety beyond the contents of this article, please contact our reception to set up an appointment. It would be an honor to meet with you.

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Self-Improvement as a Lifestyle, Not a Resolution

When New Year’s Day rolls around, people all over the country set resolutions for self-improvement. But unfortunately, by the end of February, many of these resolutions are thrown by the wayside, and people return to the same habits they have always had.

But self-improvement is not an event. It does not happen a few months into the year. Instead, improving yourself is a lifelong journey to be better, do better, and attract better. Making self-improvement habits stick must become a lifestyle, not an end goal.

Lasting tips for self-improvement

You have probably heard that it takes twenty-one days to form a habit; however, some research suggests that habit-forming takes longer to become a lifestyle. Read through the list of self-improvement tips and choose a few you would like to implement this year. Give yourself at least a month or two to apply a suggestion before adding a new one. Then, make embedding these habits part of your overall lifestyle for lasting change.

Create a bedtime routine.

Never underestimate the power of routines. You can have a smoother morning by using your evening as a preparation period. You may want to start your routine as soon as you come in from work. Depending on your home and family, you could quickly do your evening chores, pick your outfit for the next day, and prepare breakfast and lunch. Then, do something relaxing to help you unwind before bed that does not include digital devices.

Transition into a morning person.

Once you have laid the foundation with your bedtime routine, consider getting up a little earlier each morning. You can accomplish more in the long term if you work on your goals for a short amount of time each morning. For example, if your new self-improvement habit is to exercise more, carve out 15-30 minutes three to five mornings a week to fit it in. You can achieve anything if you buckle down and focus for this short time before everyone else wakes up.

Journal your thoughts.

Journaling and reflecting on your day serve two purposes. First, it allows you to “dump” the day’s stresses onto the page. Journaling gives you an outlet to let things go so that you can start the day (or the next day) with a clearer head. Second, journaling gives you a moment to reflect on what you have learned, who you are grateful for, and what you need to forget. It is a moment of appreciation for the life God has given you.

Listen to a podcast or audiobook.

Never before have we had access to experts at our fingertips. You do not need to rub shoulders with the greats in a particular industry to learn from them. With easy access to audiobooks and podcasts on thousands of subjects, you can learn from the best and on the go. Make it a goal to listen to at least one podcast and audiobook over thirty days. The more you listen, the more you will challenge your memory to recall details later.

Kick procrastination to the curb.

Procrastination is a time waster and is often rooted in fear, the fear of man. We are fearful of rejection and disappointment. When we cannot complete a task on time or do not know enough about a subject, we procrastinate to avoid experiencing pain or discomfort. But procrastination and fear of man will stop you from making lasting changes. When you are procrastinating on a task, give yourself a pep talk and make yourself do it. Even if it is for only five minutes, you will have rallied against the resistance. Next time, go a little longer.

Learn something new.

Is there a subject about which you have always wondered? Maybe it was a topic you did not necessarily want to study for a career, but it was an interest. Now is the time to take steps to learn about it. For example, learning a foreign language, how to play a musical instrument, or martial arts.

You are not after mastering this interest, but allow yourself to be a novice. When you lead with grace and embrace your mistakes, then you will experience freedom in doing something you love.

Acquire new skills for your career.

Acquiring new skills can make you valuable in the marketplace. The career you have chosen needs people with high-quality skills to run smoothly. What skills do you need to acquire? Do you need certifications in software programming? How are your communication skills?

Figure out what you need to learn to make you a valuable team member and an essential employee. You can find courses and certifications online in thousands of subjects. Then, use your new skills to ask for a promotion, raise, or find a new job.

Make your goal your lifestyle.

Often, we set goals, but we fail to walk the talk. We want to lose weight but stop daily at a drive-thru. We want to save money but spend every dollar. We want to earn a certification to help us attain a better job, but we spend our evenings binge-watching a series. It happens to everyone. However, you must make your goal your lifestyle. You have to make conscious decisions for your future self to do better.

Challenge yourself.

If you worry that making lifestyle changes for self-improvement are too daunting and overwhelming, use the baby-step approach. Challenge yourself to make one change for 30 days. Issue yourself a thirty-day challenge to etch a new habit into your mind. For example, if laying out your clothes the night before will save you thirty minutes in the morning, try it for thirty days. Once a new habit forms, move on to another challenge.

Declutter your environment.

Physical clutter also clutters the mind. When you surround yourself with chaos and piles of unwanted things, it becomes difficult to think clearly. A cluttered environment brings out stress and anxiety. Your sleep is disrupted, and you maydevelop insomnia. In addition, you are less likely to invite anyone to your home. Try decluttering in short periods of 10-15 minutes, so you do not become overwhelmed.

Make short to-do lists.

You can control your day, or it can control you. Decide that you will focus on what you can manage and leave the rest to God to handle. Create a short to-do list each morning (or the night before) to give you a roadmap to follow.

Prioritize the items that must get done and keep it short. Long, detailed to-do lists can lead to frustration and burnout. Next, choose the toughest task on your list to accomplish first to get it out of the way. Is it making a phone call or completing forms online? Tackle that first.

Move outside your comfort zone.

To stretch and grow, you must operate outside of your comfort zone. This is a scary place to be, and you may want a counselor to help guide you. But the best opportunities are often on the other side of that fear, way outside your comfort zone. Ask yourself what tasks make you nervous.

What action could you take, if you were not afraid, that would significantly impact your life? Pretending not to be scared may work, but enlisting the help of a licensed mental health counselor could make the process easier. Plus, it would provide needed support and encouragement.

Get help when you need it.

A part of self-improvement is recognizing and seeking help when you need it. Making choices and following through can be difficult at first, but the more you fight against the resistance to return to your old habits, the better off you will be. Reach out to our office today to schedule an appointment with a personal development counselor to make a plan to accomplish your goals and grow your skills.

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How Much Exercise is Too Much? Confronting Overexercise

If you were to do an informal poll among medical professionals, they would likely say that many of us who form the broader public wrestle with not doing enough to be healthy and stay in shape, and we could use a bit more exercise. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re aware of that, and we know that exercise will do us a world of good.

Exercise has many benefits, such as boosting your mood, burning calories, increasing your levels of energy, and overall leaving you feeling better about life and yourself. The benefits of exercise are widely known, though we may not always take advantage and avail ourselves of them.

There is another side to this though, which doesn’t get addressed as often, and that is the dangers of overdoing exercise. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing – too much exercise can have negative results, such as causing exhaustion, injuries, depression, and addiction that overtakes other areas of life. And so, while it’s important to get some exercise to ensure your health, knowing when you’re overdoing it and when to pull back makes sense.

How much exercise is too much?

Every person is unique when it comes to what their body can handle in terms of exercise. Depending on your age, physical history, and other factors, what you can manage in terms of exercise will vary.

Given such a wide variance between people, one of the more important pieces of wisdom regarding overexercising is to pay close attention to your body. When things aren’t going as they should, your body will tell you. With that in mind, below are a few ways you can tell when you’re taxing yourself through exercise a bit too much.

Not enough rest. When you work out, you need to give yourself time for rest and recovery. That way, your body can heal and make the most of the gains made during the workout. If you’re not having enough rest and recovery time after and between your sessions, that’s a good sign you’re overdoing it.

When you put in a good session, you may feel a little tired and sore, but you’ll also feel energized. However, if you’re feeling fatigued between and even during your sessions, that may signal that you’re overdoing it and not giving your body time to recover.

Insomnia. One of the benefits of working out is that it helps with your overall sense of well-being, and you tend to sleep well. Struggling to fall or stay asleep isn’t a problem when you’re getting the right amount of exercise because it promotes sleep, and so insomnia may signal that you’re overdoing it.

When you’re hurting your body. Whether it’s running, cycling, swimming, walking, dancing, lifting weights, or some other form of exercise, feeling a little sore after a good bit of exercise is par for the course. There is a significant difference between that good kind of soreness that shows you’ve worked hard and lingering soreness that doesn’t disappear after a day or two.

Also, you may be overdoing it if you feel sore only on one side of your body, or in one muscle group or joint in your body. If both legs run a marathon, it doesn’t make sense for only one knee to be in pain long after; that indicates you may have done some injury to yourself.

The presence of actual injuries sustained during your workouts may also suggest you’re overdoing it, especially if the injury came about because of the increased intensity of your workout. When you exercise, don’t increase intensity all at once; work up to your goals steadily over time, for example by adjusting and seeing if your body can handle it over two weeks, then increasing it in the third week.

Your body gains fat and you become more susceptible to illness. Taking in the right amount of exercise tends to help us by boosting our metabolism and immune system. However, if you overdo it, the symptoms can show up in that it’ll compromise your immune system, making you more susceptible to things like colds.

Overdoing exercise can also result in a disrupted ability to regulate the stress hormone cortisol, leading to your body holding on to fat. If you find your health deteriorating and your metabolism taking you backward, it may be that you’re overdoing your exercising.

When you lose a good balance. Exercising a lot, whether that means it occupies a large chunk of your time, or it occupies pride of place in your life, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re overdoing it. However, if you begin organizing your life around exercise, you may have a problem. This can manifest in many ways.

Some people become laser-focused, scrupulously measuring their caloric intake, and treating food simply as fuel for the next workout; they don’t enjoy their food as food. In other cases, overdoing it can look like working out when it’s inappropriate, such as when it’s snowing or raining and you insist on going out, or if you miss important life events because you must get your workout in.

You’re irregular and do too much at once. With exercise, slow and steady wins the race. Many people find working out unpleasant because they don’t do it regularly, and when they do it, they want to fit in as much of it in one shot as they can. That can make for an unpleasant and potentially dangerous workout.

If you find yourself dreading your once-in-a-while workout, it may be appropriate to ask yourself why that is. It may be that you’re doing too much all in one go, and if you find yourself in knots trying to fit different types of workouts/activities into one session, you may be overdoing it.

When your performance level drops. As slow and steady wins the race when it comes to exercise, we find that over time we get stronger, more capable, more flexible, and so on. If you’ve been working out consistently for a while, but you find your performance getting worse and not better, you may be overdoing it and not giving your body a chance to recover. Pull back a little, give yourself room to rest, and it will likely lead to a performance boost.

Focusing on one type of workout/movement. When we find something that works for us, we typically stick to it and push it to its limits. This may not be the best idea. A runner can work hard on their running, but if they don’t do proper stretching and flexibility training, their overall gains may be compromised.

Someone who focuses on strength training may do just that, leaving other areas such as flexibility or cardio-fitness languishing. A person who does yoga may be flexible, but their overall strength may need some improvement. If you find that your focus is only on one thing, you might be overdoing it and inadvertently lowering your overall performance. You need to do a mix of things to develop flexibility, strength, endurance, and cardio fitness.

What do I do if I’m overdoing it?

In general, getting the right amount of exercise is good for your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. But if any of the above-mentioned signs of overdoing it sound familiar to you, what can you do about it? As mentioned earlier, the key thing is to pay close attention to your body and heed its cues. If you’re feeling tired or sore, you may need to pull back and create rest and workout days.

When you intensify your workouts, do so in small increments and give your body time to adjust to the change before making further increments in intensity. In general, having days set aside for rest and recovery is a good idea. If you want to move during your rest days, you can still use your time and do active recovery, which may mean stretching or walking. If you only do one type of exercise, consider diversifying it to improve your overall fitness.

Injuries are common during exercise, and sometimes you may feel sore for a few days while your body heals. However, see a medical professional if you’ve injured yourself and it doesn’t seem to be getting better even with rest. Working out boosts your mood, so if you notice that your moods are being altered negatively when you work out, and afterward, talk with a mental health professional so that you can address any potential issues such as depression.

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How to Address Negative Body Image Issues in Women

Negative body image issues in women are common. They can hold you back from living a full, positive life. These issues are worth addressing with a counselor.

You may have thought, felt, or done these things if you have negative body image issues:

  • Looked in the mirror and didn’t like something about yourself
  • Took issues with your nose, lips, eyes, or any other body part
  • Stepped on the bathroom scale with bated breath wondering what the numbers would say, and feeling like that reflected your worth
  • Wished you had a slenderer body, a fuller chest or fuller lips, a smaller waist, longer legs, or any other change that is largely out of your control
  • Wondered why you have all those thoughts about your image
  • Convinced yourself that a nip here and a tuck there would fix your problems
  • Compared yourself with others and wondered why you are doing so
  • Thinking about the ideal body, nose, waist, or chest size and how it applies to you
  • Wondering who determines and sets the body image standards against which you often measure yourself

These thoughts can be exhausting and discouraging. That’s why it’s good to learn about negative body issues in women and how you can overcome them.

Understanding Body Image

Body image is defined as “the mental picture one forms of one’s body as a whole including its physical characteristics and one’s attitudes towards these characteristics.” Various studies and surveys show that more women than men are likely to be affected by body image issues.

There seems to be a social worth that attaches to women’s bodies. This is probably because different cultures have always had opinions on what it means to be an ideal woman physically.  Because beauty is largely a social construct, there is a particular complexity that comes with body image. Not only is a woman limited to reflecting on how she feels about her own body but often, she also wonders how other people perceive her.

In some cultures, women’s fuller bodies are seen as ideal and attractive. Yet in other cultures, the thinner and slender a woman is, the more attractive she is deemed to be. Despite this obvious difference in definitions and perceptions, the standards are more subjective rather than objective.

These ideals are often perpetuated by the traditional media including television and magazines, the beauty and fashion industries, and social media. How a woman perceives herself is shaped by a myriad of sources, including what her society pushes and portrays as being the ideal body. Depending on each woman’s societal and media interactions, and her personal interpretation and understanding of such, she can either have a positive or negative body image.

Negative Body Image Issues

Negative body image can best be described as having an extremely unhappy and intensely dissatisfied view of one’s physical appearance. Due to the attention that is placed on women’s bodies and what it means to be beautiful and physically attractive in contemporary society, women start forming perceptions of their bodies at rather young ages. Often without realizing it, a woman internalizes those beauty standards to which she is most exposed.

A woman may start having internal conversations about whether or not she is attractive, worthy, and acceptable. These conversations will sometimes start to deepen and increase as her body undergoes natural changes and as she interacts more with the outside world.

For example, if she was teased about her looks or received negative feedback about her body parts or her weight, skin tone, or hair, she might start harshly criticizing herself and wishing her body or specific body parts were built or shaped in a certain way.

Likewise, if you spend most of your time immersed in traditional or social media you may find yourself comparing yourself with the “perfect” people that you see there and wondering why you are not like them. You may even start thinking of ways that you may attain such looks.

Signs and Symptoms

Although this list is not exhaustive, these are some of the common signs and symptoms of a negative body image:

  • Low self-esteem stemming from comparing yourself with other people whom you view as having the ideal body or physical features
  • Obsession with mirrors for purposes of scrutinizing oneself and finding more fault
  • Spending too much time on social media for purposes of trying to keep up with beauty trends
  • Harsh and judgmental comments about one’s own body
  • Investing an extreme amount of time, effort, and money in trying to change your image
  • Resorting to drastic dietary and exercise regimes or cosmetic surgery to attain the “ideal” body

4 Ways to Improve Body Image

Here are four ideas to help you improve your body image issues on your own. But if you need more help, a Christian counselor can show you how to address these issues on a deeper level.

Be kind to yourself.

You can start by being kinder to yourself and avoiding some of your known triggers of negative body image. Stop comparing yourself to those perfectly curated people you see on television or social media. Limit the time you spend on social media. But while you are there, unfollow the pages of people who portray unrealistic beauty and body goals. When you feel tempted to compare yourself with others, say one kind thing you like about yourself instead.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy eating and exercising, getting enough sleep, and seeking help from qualified healthcare practitioners and counselors. This will help you preserve mental, emotional, and physical health. Consider pursuing different hobbies which do not involve screentime. Try to surround yourself with people that keep your focus on other important life aspects instead of just physical looks and fashion trends.

Embrace your body.

Contrary to what popular culture will have you believe, there is more to a woman’s body than just being admired, Embrace your body and all its capabilities because, by its very nature, the human body is amazing regardless of its color, size, or shape.

The Bible says in Psalm 139:14 NIV, “I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” As a Christian, you should intentionally focus on that verse because your body is a testimony of God’s greatness.

While it is true that society, media, and the beauty and fashion industries have a lot to say about women’s bodies, there are enough scientific facts that can be used to push back against some of the unrealistic ideals that are often forced on people’s faces.  The following are examples of biological facts about women’s bodies that need to be normalized:

  • Genetics play a significant role in how people look and there is no fighting them.
  • Women’s bodies undergo different changes due to puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause, and other hormonal changes.
  • Sagging breasts are natural as they lose elasticity due to aging, multiple pregnancies, and hormonal changes.
  • Some girls and women develop acne due to hormone changes during puberty and adulthood.

Repeat these truths to yourself when you need to embrace your body just the way it is.

Do not forget who you are in Christ.

It is important to reflect on Romans 12:2 NIV, Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Instead of chasing after the often-unrealistic man-made standards of beauty that constantly change, it is more fulfilling as a Christian to focus on God’s will for your life. You must never forget who you are in Christ and that you are called for a greater purpose.

The battle to develop a positive body image can be difficult. If you or anyone you know is struggling with body image issues, please do not hesitate to reach out to me for a coaching appointment. I would be honored to walk this journey with you.


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