Jesus teaches us to call God our Father in the words of the Lord’s Prayer. St John reminds us this is no slip of the tongue as he writes:
"See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.” JOHN 3:1.
Security in our relationship with our loving creator God is a firm bedrock for sustaining our wellbeing and mental health.
The NHS recommends five ways to help improve your mental health and wellbeing. These five steps integrate well with everyday Christian practice and pattern of faith.
The Five Ways to Wellbeing & Christianity has been designed in collaboration with members of Christian communities, with the support from the Church of England, The Catholic Church, Evangelical Alliance and Churches Together.
You can read the full Five Ways to Wellbeing & Christianity leaflet in various languages by clicking on the links below:
Good Thinking has also worked with London’s Christian communities to create a series of videos:
Simon Hughes, former MP, shares the importance of connecting with God and others as part of the Five ways to wellbeing and Christianity
Rev. Philip Wright, Chaplain at West Ham United FC, shares why maintaining physical health is important
Alfred Banya, Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church, on how faith can support wellbeing
Nicola Pickstone shares how nature can help to improve your mental wellbeing
Rev. Jim Craig, King's College London Chaplain, on why it's important to make time for yourself
Bishop Bartholomew Orji and Rev. Nana Kyei Baffour share why learning is important
Sarah Farrow, King's College London Chaplain, on Connecting with Others
Reverend Ezekiel Samuel shares ways to keep connected with others
As well as the full leaflets available above, information about each of the 5 Ways to Wellbeing is detailed below:
Human beings are born relational. From before our birth, our relationships with our family, the friends we choose, and with God are foundational, helping to form and strengthen us.
St John writes: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.”
Jesus said: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.”
God loves and cares for each of us as His children. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us to call God “Our Father…”. Being with others who appreciate and love us as God loves us helps build our sense of belonging and value, as we more fully become the person God created us to be.
“Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ… Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”
1 CORINTHIANS 12:12-27
St Paul uses this metaphor of us as individuals being parts of a body, the Body of Christ; eyes and ears and hands and feet, each with our vital interdependent contributions.
Connecting with people in Church of England, Roman Catholic and other Christian church communities, in person or online, can improve our mental wellbeing. Try gathering socially, as well as for worship with other Christians, sharing the bread and wine of Holy Communion around the Lord’s Table, praying together, learning together with courses like Alpha, serving your community through food banks and helping those with financial issues.
The shape of the cross, with arms reaching out horizontally to others, and up and down between God and me, embodies our connecting with God and connecting with others.
“Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the
prize? Run in such a way that you may
win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable garland, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly.”
St Paul uses exercising and sporting imagery about our Christian life journey. Our physical wellbeing contributes much to our mental and our spiritual wellbeing, and is partly why walking on pilgrimage can be valuable.
Our bodies are amazing – scripture reminds us we are created in the image of God, Genesis 1:26-28. As Christians, we are to love God and each other as we love ourselves. We are to do this with every part of us: heart, soul, mind, and strength: Mark 12:30-31.
Our bodies are precious – they are described as being a temple of the Holy Spirit within us in 1 Corinthians 6:19. Honouring and valuing our bodies and our physical health is important so that we can glorify God with our whole selves. Physical activity helps raise our self-esteem, reduces depression and anxiety, and lowers our risk of long-term health conditions, such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
Jesus heals people and cares for their physical needs and, in Matthew 25:35- 36, he tells us to love and care for the physical needs of all. Jesus also cared for those living with what we might now identify as mental ill health– remember the example of the man found ‘clothed and in his right mind’ after being with Jesus, in Mark 5:1-20? Healing is about becoming healthy, whether that is in body, mind or spirit. Try using some of the 10-minute physical workouts on the NHS website to contribute to your mental and spiritual wellbeing.
“Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”
“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart.”
We often hear ‘you learn something new every day’ and we shouldn’t be surprised by that, as we are naturally inquisitive creatures. Indeed, life-long learning has so much more to offer, especially to those who struggled through school.
Many people had to learn new things during the COVID-19 pandemic and develop skills they never knew they needed – from baking bread to mastering video calls with family, friends and colleagues. In doing so, it is likely they have gained self-confidence and a sense of purpose. Learning something we enjoy can improve our mental wellbeing and counteract depression.
“They found the boy Jesus in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.”
In the Gospels, Jesus is frequently called Rabbi and Teacher. The disciples learned from him through his stories and parables – and most famously, they asked him to teach them to pray: Our Father… (Luke 11:1). Using this, or other prayers, puts you directly in touch with Jesus the Teacher.
“Love your neighbour as yourself.”
Generosity is at the heart of Christian faith, as we respond to our generous God who loves each of us, and gives us all that we have. Faith is put into action as we give.
Jesus calls us to love our neighbour, for their good – and ours too! He encourages us to share what we have, serve others – however small our gift – a few loaves and fishes, or the smallest coin (Luke 21:1-4).
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.”
That most famous of Psalms, 23, knows that our souls need restoring, and paying attention to ourselves is vital to our wellbeing. Pausing, meditating, praying – all help our body and mind to reset, our pulse to slow, our nerves to settle. The God who created us knows how we tick.
“For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb… I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
“Do not fear … I have called you by name, you are mine.”
Our confidence grows as our relationship with God deepens and we experience his love for us. Courses such as the Wellbeing Journey and listening to mental health support advice or accessing resources on the Good Thinking website all help bolster our resilience.
“Be still, and know that I am God! ”
There can be misconceptions about mental health. We have fact checked three common misconceptions about mental health that may be held by Christians;
You can read more about this here.
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