April 2, 2024 by

Almost everyone experiences one specific “Marianas Trench” in their life — a low point from which they were convinced they’d never rise again. Mine was one particularly biting February morning my first spring semester away from home. It was early 2021, so we were all still shuffling off the snowpants of a certain pandemic, but even outside of that, I wasn’t doing very well, mentally speaking. And I hadn’t been for a while. It had finally gotten so bad that I couldn’t leave my dorm for some Chick-fil-A without earbuds tucked in, screeching with this or that particular podcast, because I was just that scared of being alone with my own thoughts. This difficult time caused me to ruminate on doubts like: 

What if God doesn’t love me? 

What if I’m not truly saved? 

Though I have since gotten better, that winter left an indelible scar on my psyche. One which, providentially, I have grown to become eternally grateful for. See, the enemy wants to give us a spirit of fear, a spirit of regret, depression, or just free-range, unpasteurized worry that makes us question our value. These thought patterns are less than ideal, but let’s face it: If you’re a natural worrier, you can’t just quit worrying completely, no matter how much you might like to.  

So today, I’d like to share some advice (real advice, helpful advice) that has helped me … well, maybe not slay this dragon for good, but at least keep it at bay. And hopefully, it’ll help you too as you face the ups and downs of life, but your years in college in particular. 

Tip #1: Pray Without Ceasing 

Whenever you feel like your anxiety’s getting the better of you, I’d invite you to actually try what I’m positive your pastor has been strongly recommending all this time: pray. And, hot take, but I’d suggest you pray for at least a good three minutes each time. It doesn’t have to be fancy; the only bad prayer is the one you don’t pray. Even if you find yourself just praying the same thing over and over again, sincerely, you’ll be accomplishing infinitely more than you were with your former modus operandi. Like Peter said, as Christians, we are to “cast all our anxieties on Him, because he cares for us” (1 Pet. 5:7).  

Sometimes, we can be pretty stingy in our estimations of how much God cares about us. But if you were a parent and one of your children came to you confessing their fears and insecurities, would you just leave them there to stew in those feelings? Or would you snatch them up in your arms and give them a hearty pat on the back until you knocked out all those unhappy feelings? So why should we believe our Heavenly Father wouldn’t snatch us up in His divine arms and do the same? 

Tip #2: Take Care of Your Physical Health 

Another solution I’ve found is in remembering and enjoying the blessings God has given us, and I don’t just mean the spiritual blessings of forgiveness and salvation (though we should remember those!). No, I mean the everyday, material happinesses He has gifted us — that goofy friend, that loyal doggo, even just a salted caramel milkshake from Beans ‘n’ Cream. These are good things, and God’s put them here so we can delight in them. And there’s nothing wrong with that! We are called to be stewards of creation, and what kind of a steward would we be if we hated what was entrusted to us?  

So next time you find doubts creeping in or start feeling down about what you see in the mirror or that reel in your Instagram feed, I’d invite you to just take a break. Physically lift up your gaze and take delight in one or two of those blessings God’s given you — preferably, a blessing which doesn’t involve staring at a screen (you’ll thank me later)! Snuggle up with that favorite pet in your beanbag chair. Have a snack with some protein. Touch grass. Walk a mile on a treadmill at the gym as you listen to an audiobook. Relax the day away in a hammock!  

We as a society are emphasizing good mental and emotional health more nowadays, which is awesome! But our bodies are part of us, too, and I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen who, as soon as they started taking better care of their physical selves, their headspace took a turn for the better. Just do yourself a favor and try it out. Because, reader, you’re worth it. You, your soul, are worth the extra hour or so it takes to go on an impromptu jaunt down to Orion and have a mini mental health retreat. We would never keep a beloved dog locked up in the house all day, never taking him on a walk or chucking a Frisbee in his direction. And, in the words of our Savior, “Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matt. 6:26). 

Tip #3: Ask for Help 

Last, I’d encourage you to talk with someone about your struggles. Here at Cedarville, we’ve been blessed with a team of professionals in Counseling Service who can help you tackle mental health issues from a distinctly Christian perspective. Just like our student body, all Cedarville University staffers sign a statement of faith affirming a Christian worldview in, not just the spiritual, but also the mental and emotional spheres of our lives.  

Dr. Couser talking with students.

If you’re not ready to speak with a counselor, that’s perfectly fine. You can always speak to your pastor back home or your local pastor here at Cedarville. Ask your professor, that senior who seems to have it all together, or even that bestie you met on the first day of class to get coffee. You really do have a lot of options here at Cedarville. 

I hope you found these tips useful no matter what stage of life you are in. For now, take care. 

Of yourself! 

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