Mental Health is a wide varying term. Truth be told, it impacts all of us in a variety of ways.
Each of these is a necessary component of the mental health discussion.
And in addition to these, I’m a firm believer that the topic of mental health needs to be proactively constructed in order to engage, shape, transform, and renew our minds (Romans 12:1-2). I am a huge advocate for clinical mental health needs. Our church runs a ministry that addresses those needs.
Holistic mental health also extends beyond the clinical component to ordinary and everyday ways in which we train and sharpen our minds.
We’ve all heard the phrases like: “Leaders are readers.” Turns out, it’s more than cliche, it’s factually true.
One article by Harvard Business Review links the benefits of reading to:
Another article, by Michael Hyatt, suggests that reading helps us master our own style of communication and keeps us mentally young and sharp.
One of the things I do early on in the coaching relationship is ask people for a list of the recent books that they’ve read. This does several important things:
1.) It establishes early on the importance for them to keep on reading.
2.) It gets them to engage critically with the information they’ve read. We are now able to talk about it and see how it has influenced and changed their life.
3.) It gives me new books to seek out and read 🙂
By habit and personality, I’m a voracious reader. My goal this year was 52 books, and I’m ahead of schedule. It’s a great discipline to get invested in, and I assure you that you will see the rewards and benefits of it.
But in our easy access, technology driven environment today, you don’t have to limit your mental health and growth to just reading. Podcasts, videos, speeches, TEDtalks, playing music, and audiobooks are all great ways to keep engaged and challenged in your thinking.
In financial investments, we are often told that we need to spread out our investments, to ‘diversify the portfolio.’ It’s a way to make sure that if one area you’ve invested in does poorly, you don’t lose too much money.
A similar concept works with our mental engagement. We will all naturally have areas we tend to want to “hang out” with in our reading. We naturally look to grab the latest novel from our favorite author, a biography about an influential historical leader, the latest business book, theological work from an influential leader, People, or National Enquirer. Great mental health, however, will require that we diversify our reading. We need to expand what we read, the voices and perspectives we understand, the location and beliefs of the authors we read, and gain a broader and more global perspective.
By engaging in works that aren’t necessarily our first choice, by listening to diverse views, and by challenging our current understanding and perceptions we honestly and humbly submit ourselves to greater learning and understanding.
This week, a challenge for our mental health: Ask your personal network for a book, article, or podcast that they recently listened to that has challenged their thought process or perspective. Post their answers in the discussion below and then read (or listen to) that resource and share your insights.