Stress and Negative Thinking – Life Planning and Emotional Health – Presence Life Planning Prayer Series
Life planning is a process that invites people to explore different paths in life and to discover life’s blueprints. We truly believe that in a society full of competition and pressure, it is also a way to discover one’s personal identity and nurture one’s life, soul, and growth. Dr. Philip Lowe is a clinical psychologist who works in the hospital setting. He is also Presence’s guest speaker. Through this interview, Dr. Lowe shared with us how life planning can be used to manage stress and improve overall emotional health.
1. From your professional point of view, besides genetics, what are some factors that cause mental illness and other emotional issues?
Lowe: Besides genetic factors, stress is the number-one culprit that affects mental and psychological health. Stress is usually caused by life pressures and difficulties with interpersonal relationships. Indeed, if a person has the ability and skills to cope with stressful events, then stress would not be a problem, as it has been dealt with properly. We call this resilience to stressful events. However, for those who are not as resilient, stress can trigger mental health issues. According to my clinical observations, the risk is higher for those who lack a healthy lifestyle and social circle.
2. Based on your years of clinical experience, how can Presence’s Life Planning Curriculum help people maintain a healthy mind, or even prevent the development of mental or emotional issues?
Lowe: Mental health depends in large part on whether one can lay hold of the meaning of life so that the mind can feel secure and nurtured. When I consider Presence’s Life Planning Curriculum, I believe the series is useful to help people live with a healthy framework — one that encourages them to work toward their goals, affirms their personal identities, and helps them avoid conditions that negatively affect mental or emotional health.
3. Do you think the curriculum is helpful to those who have mental or emotional issues already?
Lowe: Persons affected by mental illness should seek professional treatment. For mild cases of depression or anxiety, generally a healthy lifestyle framework can increase people’s ability to cope with problems and manage their emotions. The curriculum can also help those who have recovered from mental illness to live a healthy life again.
4. Can you briefly share some cases with us to help us better understand the needs in this area?
Lowe: In my experience, I come across a lot of adults, even young adults, who have no lack of material things but are poor in spirit and not sure of their personal identities. In their lives, they usually rely on a virtual world and virtual life for their social network, meaning they share their emotions with strangers. This approach can easily lead to personality changes —dormant character traits are aroused, resulting in personality distortion.
Presence’s Life Planning Curriculum can guide participants to find their life goals and the meaning of life, and to build a healthy life framework that helps defend against the disrupted emotions caused by stress. It is an important, worthwhile, and recommended study for a generation that feels empty inside.
“Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23
For a generation to whom speed and performance are everything, we hope that you can slow down to explore life and nurture your soul so that your life can be more fruitful.
1. Do I have a healthy lifestyle? What can I do to better take care of myself mentally and emotionally?
2. What is my normal reaction to stressful situations?
3. Is there anyone in my life who can share the ups and downs with me?
4. Ask God to help you understand your feelings now and guide you in how to grow in your life.
5. Ask God to give you close friends with whom you can have heart-to-heart conversations to navigate life.
Interviewed and written by: Lily Ma
Dr. Phillip Lowe’s bio:
Dr. Phillip Lowe is a speaker, adjunct professor, and clinical psychologist. He completed his doctoral degree in clinical psychology (Psy.D) and MA in Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He studied Marital and Family Therapy (MFT) and was involved in family ministry, counseling adults and families at church. He has conducted numerous workshops on marital enrichment, manhood, and sexuality at churches and conferences. He planted and ministered at two Southern California churches. He currently works as a clinical psychologist at an outpatient psychiatric clinic and engages as a guest preacher at several California churches. Dr. Lowe currently resides in Orinda, CA.
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