Spiritual Reflections

Tips for Living Emotionally Well

Tip #1 

“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life.”

Luke 12:22

As in so many of life’s ways, I believe that Jesus sets us on a path, offering tips, if you will, for keeping ourselves emotionally well. Instructing us not to worry is basic, but perhaps the hardest tip to embrace and practice. My mother used to phrase it by saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” That little bit of wisdom has guided me through life offering perspective and peace repeatedly when situations were challenging and yet not earth-shattering. 

For some of us worrying is a way of life, consuming our time and energy, leaving us fatigued, anxious and, in a worst-case scenario, hopeless. Being consumed by worry can paralyze us, leading to depression and self-damaging behaviors. “Do not worry,” seems so simple yet for some impossible. To the degree that worrying impacts our daily life, professional help can offer tools to assist us in achieving a life less worrisome and more fulfilling. Counseling and/or prescribed medication are great resources that help us to regain a sense of wellness and health. 

Tip # 2 

“Go to your room and shut your door and pray….”

Matthew 6:6 

A regular practice of prayer, meditation, or yoga are also agents of emotional wellness. Placing ourselves in silence, with open hands and heart, listening to God’s Spirit breathing through us naturally facilitates serenity that imparts refreshment and calmness allowing us to be grace-filled beings for the world. 

Tip #3 

“Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:34 

Emotional wellness requires the ability to forgive. A recognition that we are imperfect human beings and that our sisters and brothers are imperfect human beings calls us to on-going forgiveness and peace affording us the grace to live free of grudges, regrets and that deep-seated sadness that accompanies a heart burdened with ill-will and bitterness, fostering isolation and mean-spiritedness. Living community life sometimes comes with annoyances, misunderstandings, and mistrust, all of which beg that we choose forgiveness. 

A regular examen of conscience moves our spirit to forgive ourselves and others for the hurts, great and small, that curb our happiness. As religious, we are mandated by the Gospel to forgive, revealing a life of authentic joy, acceptance and a peaceful purpose for existence. 

Tip #4 

“Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread nor money—not even an extra tunic.” 

Luke 9:3

Simplifying our life for the journey can support a life of emotional wellness that is achieved and sustained for the long-haul. Total reliance on God’s providence, if authentically lived, paves the path for spiritual, emotional and physical wellness. Keeping ourselves from being bogged down with stuff lightens the burdens and worries of everyday life. So often we are rendered frozen, unable to commit, standing alone because of our inability to let go of things that keep us prisoners of meaningless fear and despair. Letting go can inspire a journey that is danced rather than trodden, fun and alive, yielding surprise and elation meant to be realized in a life rooted in God. 

Tip #5 

“I give you a new commandment, love one another.”

John 13:31 

Emotional wellness presumes that we are on the journey with others. Being in right relationship with God, ourselves, others and all of creation is a pre-requisite for a life filled with hope, health and happiness. Developing relationships that feed our souls is necessary for a life of kindness, truth and happiness. 

Religious life presents us with so many wonderful opportunities for rich and renewing friendships. Ministry gives us the gifts of unique and diverse people and places where we share experiences that call us to “act justly and love tenderly.” Being able to bond with so many of God’s creatures is a privilege to be treasured always. 

Fostering positive family ties and moments filled with joy and celebration, as well as being there for challenging times and experiences of deep sadness remind us of our relational rootedness and where our journey began. 

The call to a vowed religious life showers us with the love and blessings of our sisters. Unlike any other path to wellness, we are surrounded by the goodness of so many women called to be lovers in the world. The friendships we form in community are what give us the strength and courage to pursue emotional wellness. Right relationships with our sisters create emotional wellness and encourage us to worry less, pray more, forgive willingly, travel lightly and love passionately. 

Sister Judy serves as Director of Learning at Cathedral High School in Boston, Massachusetts.

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