A Healthy Spirit For Your Mind

A Healthy Spirit For Your Mind

When it comes to mental health, a belief in God plays a bigger part than we may think.

Angela ZujicMar 20, 2023, 12:50 AM

Good Mental Health

Neurochemicals have been found to play a role in brain health. Defi- ciencies in neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline and y-aminobutyric acid (GABA) are often linked with depression and

Intake of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with improved outcomes in bipolar disorder, depression, post- partum depression and dementia. Omega-3 fatty acids (which can be found in linseeds, chia seeds and walnuts) need to be incorporated into the daily diet. Other nutrients such as vitamins C and folate (B9) are also imperative for optimum brain health.

Sunlight and physical activity have a measurably corrective effect on mood to the degree that they bear comparison to medication. Dehy- dration, an unsuspected cause of mental instability recently proven through studies, along with sleep insufficiency, known also to affect mood, can be easily corrected for improved mental health. 

Spirituality and the brain

Not always easily quantified, although equally noteworthy, is the role of personal spirituality to men- tal health. A well-balanced mind is influenced by one’s thought process- es, which are shaped by deeply held foundational beliefs.

According to psychiatrist Dr Tim Jennings, however, not all spiritual experiences are helpful. He defines unhealthy spirituality as “undermin- ing and damaging the ability to rea- son by inciting fear, and promoting 

He cites unresolved guilt and grudge-holding as leading to inflam- matory cascades and worsening mental health outcomes. Jennings also says that distorted concepts of God can damage the mind. On the other hand, healthy spirituality is based on truth, love and freedom. Healthy spirituality, says Jennings, calms fear circuitry and reduces inflammation.

Jennings tells the story of Sergeant Jones, who prior to going into com- bat, dedicated his tank to God by anointing it with oil! When he was making final preparations for battle, his commanding officer commanded him to give up his radio and he also found the night-vision capability of his tank was not working. Realising he would be going into battle “blind” and “deaf,” Jones declined to participate. His request was denied and he was told that his tank would be useful to draw enemy fire from the other forces.

After the conflict, Jones felt God had abandoned him and he plunged into depression. He wasn’t able to work until, finally, he came to see Jennings. In consultation, Jones revealed that no-one in his tank had suffered either fatality or injury. Jen- nings likened what had occurred on 

God designed our minds to work in a certain order and He created us with the capability to reason and draw conclusions. The Bible says, “Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind” (Romans 14:5), but information alone is not enough.

In Jones’ case, he had evaluated his experience through emotions rather than through the outcome and evidence. But through working with Jennings, Jones was able to develop a different outlook, draw a different conclusion, overcome his depression and was soon back at work. 

Conscience, reason and will

The conscience is the part of the mind most sensitive to God, but can be faulty just like actual sight. That is why conscience and reason must be engaged together. On top of that, the use of our will is also crucial to healthy outcomes. An individual may be convinced by reason and conscience of what is good and right but unless the will is engaged, there is no benefit.

Jennings emphasises that when we choose to go against good judge- ment, the mind is damaged. A clas- sic case is that of a smoker who is convinced that smoking is harmful but fails to make a decision to quit 

King Saul, a biblical character early in the history of the nation of Israel, illustrates the effect on the mind in the face of conscious wrongdoing. When he was made king, God renewed his mind and “changed Saul’s heart” (1 Samuel 10:9). Saul’s life immediately after this was marked by humility and wisdom and the nation prospered amidst its enemies.

A comparatively short time later, God gave Saul specific instructions but Saul carried out his own modi- fied version of what God had said, resulting in God’s disapproval 

Judas, who betrayed Jesus, was another man who knowingly vio- lated God’s law and was driven to suicide by the unresolved guilt that followed (Matthew 27:3–5). 

Contemplating God

t is important to realise that a diseased mind is not evidence of God’s  

In John 17:3 , Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Life eternal references optimum health. What Jesus is teaching is that the true knowledge of God is central to our wellbeing and genuine mental health.

Studies have shown that when people contemplated a trustworthy and loving God, there were measur- able positive outcomes in the brain, 

We are all susceptible to mental health issues, whether there is a fam- ily history of it or not. Extraordinary stress can cause anyone to have men- tal health challenges. We may not be able to alter genetic or biological defects, but together with profes- sional help, good lifestyle choices and attention to the nutritional needs of the brain, we can develop a healthy form of spirituality that pro- vides resilience, helping us to reduce the effects of mental illness. 



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