Recovery. Have you ever wondered what mental health recovery looks like? In a world that craves the overnight fix, is recovery even possible for the one thing you’ve been told will never go away?
For the soul longing for the quick fix, we unfortunately don’t have the answer. But we do have something even better for you - HOPE! Recovery is a process that explores a winding road rather than a linear path. Recovery is often an unknown that includes utter dependence upon the Lord. But most importantly, recovery can be filled with hope, building self-awareness, growing in resiliency and learning that you are God’s cherished workmanship!
As you travel through your recovery journey, there are a few landmarks along the way that will help you know that you’re moving in the right direction! Here are five landmarks of recovery to look for:
It has been said that “the common denominator [of mental health recovery] is community” (William Anthony, Boston University). You were created to be in community! Having the support and encouragement of consistent and trusted friends and family can provide you with a stable foundation for your mental health recovery journey.
Tip: Locate a support group in your area or a church small group to attend. Find 1-2 new ways to connect with friends weekly to develop relationships (phone call, short walk/hike, sporting event, cooking dinner, watching a movie).
2. RENEWED SENSE OF HOPE
A renewed sense of hope arises from understanding that you are not defined by your mental illness and that God has a wonderful purpose for your life. When you look through a lens of hope rather than despair, you have a new strength to face challenges that come your way.
Tip: Write down a list of 10 attributes of God. Hold on to this list throughout your day to remind yourself that He is not only fighting for you but also fighting alongside you and we can rest in His grace!
3. HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Mental health recovery requires a whole-health approach. Along with our mental health, it also incorporates our physical, relational and spiritual health. A great indication of growth in the recovery process is a lifestyle that addresses each area of life. This may include a healthy diet, consistent exercise, and times throughout the week to learn a new hobby or study a new topic.
Tip: Find one new activity to try this week. Try finding a new walking path, riding your bike to a park to practice relaxation techniques, writing an encouraging letter to a friend or learning a musical instrument.
4. RESTING IN GRACE
There is a constant pressure to do more to fix your symptoms. Spiritually, you can feel inadequate or not good enough. God doesn’t call you to try harder. Instead, God calls you to come to Him with your heaviness and weariness, and He will give you rest. A great indication of moving along in your recovery journey is releasing your desire to perform and accepting God’s invitation for you to rest in His grace and His promises over your life.
Tip: At the start of your week, write down 5 worries or anxieties that are holding you down. Pray through one each day and remind yourself that you don’t have to have it all together. You are a work in progress!
5. SERVING OTHERS
When the recovery journey becomes a winding uphill battle, your eyes can quickly turn inward. Yet, as you move along in your mental health recovery process (see image), you’ll see yourself travel from distress to stability to function to purpose. Along the way, you’ll begin to find ways to care for and serve others. Taking a moment to do something for someone else can bring light to your darkest hours.
Tip: Brainstorm 3-5 opportunities to serve in your church or community. It can be anything from picking up trash on a walking path or serving as a greeter on a Sunday morning. Set a goal to find a small way to serve someone each week and track how it impacts your overall mood!
What are other landmarks that have encouraged you in your mental health recovery journey? We would love to hear from you!
Natalie Franks, M.A. / OTR/L
Executive Director of Programs & Development
The Grace Alliance