Self-Care & Mental Wellness: Johnny Sanders Truth Of Grace Counseling On The Top Five Selfcare Practices That Improve Mental Wellness

An Interview With Maria Angelova


Self-care is more than feeling better in the moment. I believe a better definition of self-care is the act of conducting yourself in a healthy manner. Health goes beyond simply feeling better. It may not feel good in the moment to go for a jog or to eat your vegetables but these are much healthier activities than to sleep in everyday and eat fast food for every meal. We must look beyond the moment to find healthier decisions for ourselves.

Let’s face it. It seems that everyone is under a great deal of stress these days. This takes a toll on our mental wellness. What are some of the best self-care practices that we can use to help improve our mental wellness and mental well-being? In this interview series, we are talking to medical doctors, mental health professionals, health and wellness professionals, and experts about self-care or mental health who can share insights from their experience about How Each Of Us Can Use Self Care To Improve Our Mental Wellness. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Johnny Sanders, LPC.

Johnny Sanders is a LIcensed Professional Counselor who provides online Christian counseling in Oklahoma and Texas. He provides both individual and group counseling with an emphasis on homeschool mothers and pastor burnout. He operates his practice from a conservative Christian worldview. You can learn more about Johnny by visiting or by following him on his Twitter and Facebook

Thank you so much for doing this interview with us. It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about you and your personal background. Can you please share your personal story? What has brought you to this point in your life?

Thank you. I am honored to be here today. I was born and raised in Oklahoma. Many in Oklahoma grew up going to church and I was no different. I have been active in church most of my life and my Christian faith is extremely important to me. I have been someone my friends and family have been able to talk to about difficult topics. I ended up going to Oklahoma Baptist University for my undergrad in psychology: pre-counseling. I graduated in 2011. After this I received my Masters in Counseling in 2013 at the University of Oklahoma. I have been a Licensed Professional Counselor since 2015.

I have worked various types of counseling jobs. I have done at-home counseling with foster children, contracted at a private practice, worked at a partial hospitalization program for teenagers, worked for an intensive outpatient program with senior adults, provided online addiction counseling and now my latest venture is online Christian counseling.

My family is extremely important to me. I live in my hometown of Duncan, Oklahoma which is where my parents still reside. I have been married to my wife Mary for 5 years and have two beautiful children Natalie and Elijah. I am incredibly blessed to have them in my life. I am a member of Meridian Church in Comanche, Oklahoma.

What is your “WHY” behind what you do? What fuels you?

This is a great question. The “why” is I want my values to be reflected in my work. At various points in my career there have been times I felt it necessary to censor my beliefs. This is why I started my online Christian Counseling practice called Truth and Grace Counseling. I feel the intersection of my career and faith has been an important change in my work.

Sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about a mistake or failure which you now appreciate has taught you a valuable lesson?

Many times in both my personal and professional life I have done a poor job of communicating healthy boundaries. This led to me feeling resentful and I have been in some toxic work environments. I now feel more confident in communicating these boundaries and avoiding these toxic situations before they can occur.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Integrity: It doesn’t matter how much money or prestige I receive if it costs me my integrity. Knowing I did the right thing leads to much better results in the long run.

Caring: In the counseling world people can tell if you actually care about what they have to say and what they are going through. If I can’t communicate that I care about you and your difficult situation then everything else is meaningless.

Humility: While I have worked hard for my success I know that I have many to thank along the way. Remaining humble and remembering the God I serve helps keep my ego in check.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting new projects you are working on now? How do you think that will help people?

My new online counseling practice Truth and Grace Counseling is a very exciting adventure for me. The story of this new practice began in November 2021. During this time I was working for a local hospital providing group therapy for senior adults. This hospital along with any healthcare facility in the country that received Medicare funding was required by the federal government to require their employees to receive the COVID shot. I know many reading this will disagree with me, but as a young man that did a lot of research on this topic I decided the shot was not something I was going to do. While I could have pursued a religious exemption, I decided not to as religion was not my reason for rejecting the shot. Due to this I was on track to be fired from my job.

Eventually a federal court order delayed this decision. While this issue was being decided in the courts I searched for new jobs which led me to an online counseling job helping clients taper off of opioids. I started that job in December 2021. Through that job I learned I enjoyed online counseling! I found clients to be really relaxed and engaged due to them being in their own homes. The court case about healthcare worker COVID shots eventually was upheld in the Supreme Court. While I officially resigned from my job I would have been fired in a few weeks due to the order being upheld. My new remote job did not have a vaccination requirement.

Because of these experiences I later decided to start Truth and Grace Counseling. Almost being fired due to a medical decision left a bad taste in my mouth. My next job helped me understand the appeal and effectiveness of online counseling. I have decided to align my practice with my faith so I can be free to express my values on my own terms. There are many people throughout Duncan, Oklahoma and the rest of Oklahoma/Texas that have similar beliefs to mine. These people may be turned off from a liberal secular worldview that most counselors have. I believe being open with my beliefs will lead to more conservative Christians receiving assistance for their mental health concerns.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, about the interface between self-care and mental health. From where you stand personally or professionally, why are you so passionate about mental well-being?

None of us are perfect. We all have flaws. However, it is important that we put ourselves in a healthy state mentally if we want to be effective in all of our life roles. I will use myself as an example. I am a business owner, a father, a husband, a son, a brother, a friend, a church member, etc. All of these roles are separate but there are intersections within them. If I am mentally unwell then all of my roles suffer in some way. It is vitally important to be well mentally in order to be successful in the various roles we all serve. I want to assist others to be mentally well so they can fulfill their roles more effectively.

Based on your research or experience, how exactly does self-care impact our mental wellness?

Before I answer this question I want to parse out the term self-care. Self-care is a phrase that gets used often. Some use self-care in a way that means you do something for yourself that makes you feel better. While I think doing things that make you feel better can be useful, it can also be quite destructive. I will use an intentionally extreme answer to prove my point. Imagine if I get into an argument with my wife. It may make me feel better to yell and scream at her in the moment. Afterwards, I may feel better if I use alcohol to run away from my feelings of guilt and anger. I think we would all agree these would be poor decisions for both me and the relationship with my wife despite these actions making me feel better at the moment.

Self-care is more than feeling better in the moment. I believe a better definition of self-care is the act of conducting yourself in a healthy manner. Health goes beyond simply feeling better. It may not feel good in the moment to go for a jog or to eat your vegetables but these are much healthier activities than to sleep in everyday and eat fast food for every meal. We must look beyond the moment to find healthier decisions for ourselves.

With a better view of self-care in mind it is easy to see how this impacts our mental wellness. If I am intentionally acting in a healthy way then this will affect my mental well being in a positive manner. As in the example I had earlier with how all of my roles in life intersect, so do all the actions we take towards our health. If I neglect my physical health my mental health will suffer. Thus, it is imperative that we act healthy in all aspects of life.

Here is our primary question. Can you please share your “Top Five Selfcare Practices That Each Of Us Can Use To Improve Our Mental Wellness”?

Absolutely. I will answer these through a series of 5 questions to ask yourself.

  1. Ask “Is this healthy?” As my answer to the previous question laid out, knowing whether something is healthy or not is extremely important. Asking yourself “is this healthy?” gives yourself time to reflect whether the decisions you are currently making are wise or not. We may not always know the answer to this question in the moment. This question helps guide you to seek information that you need in order to make a healthy decision.
  2. Ask “Is this person healthy for me?” We don’t always get to choose who is around us. None of us choose who our parents or siblings are for instance. There are many relationships that are unhealthy. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to separate from an unhealthy relationship completely. Maybe you need to speak up about what is going wrong. Maybe you need to distance yourself from someone but not leave completely. Maybe you do need to completely separate. But asking this question allows you to start examining the relationships around you.
  3. Ask “What am I feeling?” Despite me saying earlier that making yourself feel better isn’t always the best idea, your feelings are incredibly important tools. If you are feeling sad this is an indicator that something is wrong. Maybe you had a loved one that recently passed. In this situation what is wrong is you lost someone you loved! It is completely acceptable to feel sad in this circumstance. Our feelings help guide us. While we shouldn’t let our feelings dictate our actions it is wise to listen and identify these feelings.
  4. Ask “What can I do about it?” Sometimes we go through something that we can make better by simply acting. For instance, if my problem is that I am procrastinating on a project for work then the answer to this question is to stop procrastinating and work! Other times the answer to this question isn’t so simple. We may need to really dig down deep to see how we can rectify the situation. There are also times where we can do absolutely nothing about it! It is in these situations that we must learn to accept there is nothing more I can do about it. In my life this is where my faith comes into play. I must trust this situation is beyond my control and have faith that God will work it out for his glory. This brings me peace.
  5. Ask “What is my bread and butter?” I have always enjoyed playing and watching sports. Sometimes commentators will mention during a game that a certain play for a team is their “bread and butter.” What they mean is the team knows this play so well that they can come back to this play and know they will run it with great success. . We need to have healthy coping skills to promote mental wellbeing. For example, my “bread and butter” is going for a walk. I know if I am overwhelmed, taking a walk helps me process through my problems better. For you maybe it is journaling. Maybe it is talking to a family member or your pastor. Maybe it is singing a song or painting a picture. Be creative! This answer is going to be different depending on who you are. It is best to have a few different ideas that way you can use them in different situations. Using healthy coping skills is a very effective way to help you deal with difficulties in the moment.

Can you please share a few of the main roadblocks that prevent people from making better self-care choices? What would you suggest can be done to overcome those roadblocks?

I believe we are all destructive in different ways. Maybe we think so poorly of ourselves that we believe we can’t succeed beyond where we are currently at in life. You might feel you have no hope in life so what’s the point in bettering yourself? Or maybe you are so prideful that you think you are doing everything right despite the obvious mess your life is. I think it is incredibly important to identify these roadblocks if you want to overcome them. In order to do this you must have direction in your life. Something must be guiding your life. Now, I believe this happens whether you want it to or not. Your life is being guided constantly but you may not be able to identify it. In my life it is my faith that guides me. I am able to look to scripture to see if I am on the right path or not. If you want success in your life you must know what is guiding you and be able to identify and correct the roadblocks in your life.

In one sentence, what would you say to someone who doesn’t prioritize their mental well-being?

“From the fruits of your life it seems as if you don’t have a healthy outlook about yourself and this impacts how you interact with others.”

Thank you for all that great insight! Let’s start wrapping up. Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does this quote resonate with you so much?

This is a pretty silly quote but “dance like nobody’s watching.” Now I am not big into dancing at all (despite my awesome moves in high school show choir). What I like about this quote is how it is important to be genuine no matter the circumstance. People gravitate towards others that are authentic. Don’t worry so much about what others are thinking but instead focus on being authentic!

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? They might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

Well I know that tagging won’t help with this one since he isn’t on social media but I would say Thomas Sowell. I have benefited greatly from the wisdom in his writings throughout the years. It is incredible to me that a man in his 90’s is still writing books with the same clarity as always. He has some beliefs I disagree with but I believe we would be able to talk about these without taking personal offense. I really value the clarity and courage he has expressed throughout his career.

I truly appreciate your time and valuable contribution. One last question. How can our readers best reach or follow you?

I really appreciate your time as well.

I am on twitter: and Facebook:

You can email me at

Call or Text 405–351–4641

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.

About The Interviewer: Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl. As a disruptor, Maria is on a mission to change the face of the wellness industry by shifting the self-care mindset for consumers and providers alike. As a mind-body coach, Maria’s superpower is alignment which helps clients create a strong body and a calm mind so they can live a life of freedom, happiness and fulfillment. Prior to founding Rebellious Intl, Maria was a Finance Director and a professional with 17+ years of progressive corporate experience in the Telecommunications, Finance, and Insurance industries. Born in Bulgaria, Maria moved to the United States in 1992. She graduated summa cum laude from both Georgia State University (MBA, Finance) and the University of Georgia (BBA, Finance). Maria’s favorite job is being a mom. Maria enjoys learning, coaching, creating authentic connections, working out, Latin dancing, traveling, and spending time with her tribe. To contact Maria, email her at To schedule a free consultation, click here.



Maria Angelova, CEO of Rebellious Intl.
Authority Magazine

Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl.