Retirement – The Next Major Life Transition

Transition to retirement
What is your strategy to navigate the transition to retirement?

What are the feelings and thoughts that come to mind when you consider the word ‘RETIREMENT’?

I am finding one of four answers from executive men who are nearing this transition.

  • I have been planning with fitness, travel plans, family plans, hobby plans and can’t wait to retire.
  • I am consumed with reaching my final goals at work and succession planning, so I’ll deal with retirement when I get there.
  • I am not looking forward to retirement, so I plan to die at my desk.
  • I am being coerced to retire before I am ready, and I am very unhappy about it.

No doubt there are other scenarios, but these are those that have been communicated most frequently.

Major Life Transitions

In life, we all traverse many transitions.  Some are small and others are large.  Some are planned, even eagerly anticipated, while others come out of nowhere.

Some of the major transitions in our life are:

  • Leaving home
  • Choosing a career
  • Marriage
  • Children
  • Moving
  • Changing jobs or careers
  • Losing a loved one
  • Retirement
  • Chronic illness

There is a planning process that can be used to prepare for most of these major transitions. Consider the number of life skills training, wedding planning, child preparation, career building, and grief counseling resources that are available.  These transitions can be very difficult, and the help and counsel of wise experts can make the leap much more manageable.

Retirement Wellness Strategies

We exist to help you strategically plan for retirement.  This process will benefit you the most if you start about 2 years prior to retirement. This will minimize the surprises and disappointments that are common with unplanned retirement.

You will have

  • Your personal board certified specialist health advocate to walk through all medical and health encounters
  • A thorough health review to enter retirement with optimal health and stamina
  • Risk identification and minimization based on your personal and family history
  • Planning tools to avoid the unexpected
  • A retirement strategic plan for building a meaningful active next life phase

Contact Dr. Michelle Fritsch today at michelle@retirewellness.comor 410-472-5078.  Learn more at www.retirewellness.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

As we enter this New Year, consider the imposed transition of the calendar.  This is a good time to think about change, new goals, and exciting possibilities.

From way back in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, we have verses of promise for the future.

Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Joshua 1:9 ESV

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

What about the changing of years brings you hope?

What brings you sadness?

How adaptable are you to change?

I have been accused of creating change on purpose, so I’m definitely in the camp that appreciates and promotes change.  I have many friends who find change very difficult and often unnecessary.  Where are you on this spectrum?

I find great hope in the many verses that explain God’s promises of provision, even during change.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Proverbs 3:5 ESV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Romans 15:13 ESV

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

In this change of the year, I pray you will live in great joy and hope in this new year.

Blessings,

Michelle

 

 

Advertisements

Hanging by a Thread

hanging on treeDo you ever feel like you’re barely hanging on by your fingernails?  All might even look right when people look at you, but you’re really enduring a great struggle?  I think that is true of many people.  In this case, knowing you’re not alone doesn’t help the current situation.

What leads to this situation?

Wow, the number of ways someone can find him/herself in this situation is large and diverse.  Here are a few:

  • Loss of a loved one, friend, dear colleague
  • Loss of a job
  • Major life transition
  • Financial pressures
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Isolation
  • Constant negativity
  • Not finding a source of hope
  • Situation that seems endless

What are the signs?

Sometimes people find themselves at this point and are surprised.  The loss or life change might have come out of nowhere.  Or, the slope to hanging by a thread might have been gradual and barely noticeable.

Some of the signs I hear clients talk about include:

  • Waking up with anxiety during the night
  • Loss of energy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Thoughts that are hard to quiet
  • Worry
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Decreased sense of self worth

There are physical effects of being in this dark place.  Blood pressure and blood sugar are harder to control.  When sleep patterns change, risk of depression, pain, and anxiety go up. Productivity declines, so there are lost days of work or decreased work getting done (and that can further increase the stress).  Relationships can suffer.

Taking the next steps forward

The first step in recovery is to recognize the signs.  Realize you are in this place.

The next step is to realize you don’t need to walk this path alone.  If you have trusted family or friends, let them help you.  Call your doctor and explain the situation and how you are feeling.  Reach out!

The step that is most important is to find your source of hope and meaning.

Finding and focusing on hope and things beyond yourself

Life contains many struggles.  That is true for everyone no matter their occupation, the country where they live, their religion, their political beliefs, or their hair color.

People really struggle to handle the ups and downs of life alone.  The tendency is to get more and more focused on yourself and your situation. This is a deep, dark, downward spiral. We have probably all found ourselves on that dark path at least once.  Some people live in this vicious cyclone of self.

If you’re there now, make a real effort to reach out the do something for someone else today.  It can be something as simple as holding a door or giving them a place in front of you in line.  Small and large acts of kindness toward other people is one of the best remedies for our own difficult times.  Try it and see!

The other is finding your source of hope.  Hope is what gets us through the tough times.  It is what changes our perspective beyond ourselves and our current situations.  It is liberating!

Hope through Christ is central in the Christian beliefs.

Hope is a critical element of the Jewish tradition.

Hope is integral in the Muslim faith.

Hope is a common theme in Buddhism.

If you aren’t sure of your source of hope, I encourage you to invest some time to reflect on this area of your life.

Retirement Wellness Strategies

A growing number of retirees are finding themselves disgruntled, disillusioned, and hanging by a thread.  Startlingly, the suicide rate is rapidly escalating.  One of the primary purposes of Retirement Wellness Strategies is to facilitate finding meaning, relevance, and peace in retirement.

You can reach us at www.retirewellness.com, michelle@retirewellness.com, or call at 410-472-5078.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

When have you last been, or why are you now ‘hanging by a thread’?  We’ve all been there.  Throughout the Bible, we are assured we will have trouble.

John 16:33 ESV

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Romans 12:12 ESV

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

1 Peter 5:10 ESV

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

These verses tell us trouble is just going to happen.  You are definitely not the only one enduring trouble.  You are not being specifically punished while the rest of the world goes on their merry way.

[Side note, the world you see people portray on social media is not all reality.  Those are the super great moments of people’s lives.  They have ugly, messy, stinky, troubling moment, too – just like you.]

These verses also tell us God knows we are living through difficult times.  God knows we struggle.  And, God has not left us alone.  He loves us!  He is looking out for us!  He is here to help us!

James 1:12 ESV

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 John 5:14 ESV

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

Jesus was born to offer the ultimate sacrifice to save us.  It is in this HOPE that we can endure difficult times and rest assured of His unconditional love!

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Romans 15:13 ESV

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

I’m praying you take the time in your busy-ness and struggles to reach for God and His promises.  May you find that peace that surpasses understanding!

Blessings,

Michelle

Attitude – the choice is yours and the impact is huge for your health!

Attitude
Choose your attitude each day, and make it a good one for your health!

Is your attitude the RESULT of what is happening around you? Is it the RESULT of what others do to you? Is it the RESULT of your life circumstances? —-OR—-Is your attitude your CHOICE?

I propose your attitude is your CHOICE!

We live in such a blame society. People are called haters, shamers, intolerant, biased, and worse.

So often we try to claim that others made us the way we are – sullen, angry, withdrawn, hurt, rejected.

We give others and situations the power to determine how we are going to go through each day and how we are going to approach life.

If you are a balloon bouncing in the winds of circumstances, there is hope!

How to choose your attitude

What are your first thoughts in the morning? How do you approach your day? What music do you choose? What do you read, think about, and how do you plan for your day?

These aspects of your life are associated with maintaining health even in the midst of negative events:

  • friends to talk to
  • people who care about you
  • a sense of self-worth
  • forgiveness
  • security
  • conflict management skills
  • religion/spirituality

The items on this list have all been linked with improved health.

And I will add having a source of HOPE. I believe hope is powerful in the midst of difficulty.

Gratitude and attitude

Another way of thinking that improves your attitude and your health is gratitude. For what are you thankful? No matter how many bad things are around you, what is good? You’re still here if you’re reading this! What parts of your body work? What are you able to do? Who do you care about? Where are your safe places? Where is the beauty around you – pictures, nature, architecture, music, literature, videos, clouds, trees, or babbling water?

Find those good things and be thankful for them. Fill your bucket with all of the good in your life. It makes the bad much more tolerable.

Make it about someone else

Doing something for or being kind to someone else can be a real attitude adjuster. Rather than focus on yourself and your own needs, raise your head and look at the people around you. Find something small you can do to make someone else’s day. You will be amazed that you benefit from those actions at least as much as the person you blessed.

Health benefits of a good attitude

No one can choose your attitude except YOU! This is such a liberating concept. In the midst of and despite the difficulties of life, you can each day CHOOSE to have a GOOD attitude!

When you do, your physical health (blood pressure, breathing, kidney function); your mental health (calm, clearer thinking, more creativity); your emotional health (less reactive, more even emotions); and your spiritual health (happiness, hope, joy) benefit.

For more information about how you can choose your own attitude and the health benefits, please contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact, michelle@medsmash.com, or call at 410-472-5078.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Choosing and displaying a good attitude consistently is one of the best ways you can ‘let your light shine’. The world is craving examples of ‘good’ in the midst of the struggles of life.

Proverbs 15:30 NIV

Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart,
    and good news gives health to the bones.

Most people are pushed and pulled and slammed against the wall when events happen. It’s hard to catch your breath, let alone be positive, if you don’t have some anchor.

Hebrews 6:19 NIV

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,

Psalm 112:7 NIV

They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

John 16:33 NIV

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

We have eternal hope and joy to hold onto in the midst of anything that happens. We have the assurances of God that we are never alone.

1 Thes 5:16-18 NIV

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8 :28 NIV

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

If you haven’t heard Francesca Battistelli’s song, Where Were You?, I highly encourage you to listen.

Yes, the difficulties of life will keep coming at you. You know they will, but those are the very events that allow us to grow deeper in our faith and find that hope that keeps our attitude good in the midst of everything.

Romans 5:3-5 NIV

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Choose your good attitude each day and let it shine for the world to see!

Blessings,

Michelle

Serenity

Happy in 2017 – Let Go of Control to Find Health

Serenity
Let go of control and let go of anxiety, depression, and pain

I’ve mentioned before, the three types of medications prescribed most commonly in the United States treat anxietydepression, and pain. I propose CONTROL is in the midst of this frequent prescribing.

What happy, exciting things do you anticipate for 2017?

What fears, concerns, or dread do you have for 2017?

CONTROL

How much control do you have over the good things you anticipate?

How much control do you have over the things that concern you?

How well do you deal with the instances where you have no control?

I have had patients who rarely leave their house for fear of what could happen while out that they wouldn’t be able to control. Some fear injury or accident. Some fear having to interact with other people. Some fear having to make a decision for which they’re not prepared.

Other patients have had bad experiences they were unable to control. Someone they loved died, left, or now rejects them. In other cases, they were in an accident, hurt by someone, or had some other negative event they fear could repeat.

All of this worry directly impacts rates of anxiety, depression, and even pain. When worry doesn’t find an outlet, it can lead to pain, often chronic pain.

Letting go of control

Want to ease into 2017 with less burden and more lighthearted joy? Try letting go!

The Serenity Prayer that is prayed in 12-step programs is:

‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

and the Wisdom to know the difference.’

This is a powerful prayer. It acknowledges that there is so much beyond our control. Try as we might, we just cannot control or change some things.

For instance, I know a lot of people are incredibly tense about the implications of a new president in2017. They stew about the ‘what-ifs’. They worry about all of the things that could go wrong. They read each prediction, especially from the sources that don’t support the newly elected official. It’s all they think about, talk about, read about, watch on TV. They get more and more anxious as they continue on this circular path.

I know people who fear certain diagnoses such as cancer, heart disease, or Alzheimer’s Disease. They jump on any unusual symptom. Their frequent use of the medical system often leads to the prescribing of several medications. All of these medications interact causing problems of their own. As the person feels worse, the more they fall down this negative slippery slope.

Hope for 2017

Consider how the Serenity Prayer could be your mantra for 2017. Spend your energy, thoughts, and time on things that are positive. Do the things you enjoy. Spend time with those who love and support you. Reach out and help others.

For the many, many things in this world that could go wrong – Let It Go! If you can’t control it, admit that and let it go.

This change could actually mean less anxiety, less depression, and less pain.

For more information about the link between control and health, please contact us at 410-472-5078 or www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Here is the full Serenity Prayer. I had never heard/read it until recently.

God, give me grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Taking, as Jesus did,

This sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,

If I surrender to Your will,

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

I love this! I plan to print it and keep it where I can read it frequently until I can memorize it. What a beautiful prayer for each and every day.

Let Go and Let God!

This is a prime example. Give up control and give it all to God who actually knows what to do with it all.

Peter and Paul very directly give us guidance on how to handle our anxieties.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 5:7 ESV

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

As hard as it is to let go of our very human desire to control, WOW, we will feel so much better when we truly give it all to God! (Please keep reminding me as I’ll keep reminding you. Satan DOES NOT want you to remember and apply this on a daily basis.)

Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Blessings as you Let it Go,

Michelle

Image source: Winter Icon by Gwebwt.blogspot.com

Feeling Stress – Find Health in Hope and Looking Outside Yourself

slide1
This 3-step recipe can help you find hope and peace in the stress.

The media, social media, and even people on the street are expressing a lot of stress and insecurity. Change is difficult – even more so for some people than others. Uncertainty is also difficult to handle. Put the two together, as the United States did this week with a new election, and people react. No matter the outcome of this election, change and uncertainty were inevitable. Any new leader brings new ideas and ways of handling political situations, and each leader is elected with the hope of a brighter future. In the months before the election our fears are played upon to help steer us toward one candidate or the other. And once the election is finished, one set of fears, or the other, becomes the new reality.

So now what?

I heard a lot of people this week talking about heavy drinking, protesting, sleeping to avoid dealing with their thoughts, self medicating with anti-anxiety agents or drugs, having anxiety episodes, and feeling rage. At the end of any of these options, it is highly unlikely that person will actually feel better. These are destructive choices that won’t actually resolve anything.

Simple recipe

There are other alternatives that will both help overcome the stress AND help you to feel better.

  1. Focus on your source of hope.
  2. Focus on all of the good things in your life.
  3. Do something kind for someone else.

This simple three-ingredient recipe is a key to contentment and happiness.

Healthier options

Getting outside of yourself is good for your health – both physically and emotionally. Find even the smallest of ways to do something good for someone else. Get together with friends to work on projects together. Help someone celebrate a milestone. Take flowers to someone who is down. Walk around your house and remember the occasion that led to each picture, each memento, and each special possession. Talk on the phone with someone dear to you, and let them know how much they have done for you in life. And to top it all off, spend quiet time with God and your faith.

I’ve written before how impressed I am by the amount of science supporting this simple recipe. It can decrease anxiety, depression, hurt feelings, concern for the future, and stress. It can lower your blood pressure, lower your anxiety, and improve your outlook on life.

It might sound overly simple or pious, but it really works!

For more information about stress management to improve your health, contact us at Meds MASH at www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

I can’t imagine life without my ROCK SOLID source of HOPE.

I have been blessed to know about this unwavering hope throughout my life.

I see the angst in the world right now and wonder how many people have never even heard about my source of hope. How many have heard only the ‘media version’ and never the truth? How scary would all of this unrest be without such hope?

Then I know of friends who attend church each Sunday and have for all/most of their lives. But attending church doesn’t equal having that deep-seated hope. Having Christ solidly in your life is a decision – a life altering decision that opens this whole world of peace and hope.

Having a source of hope gets you through all situations. Having an eternal perspective puts everything else in perspective.

Just as the Israelites were reassured, I HOPE we can be as well.

Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

I mentioned a recipe for health. Here is a three-part recipe that has seen me through many difficult situations.

Romans 12:12 ESV

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Uncertainty will always be part of our world until Christ returns. These times of upheaval can draw us closer and closer to our one true source of hope.

Proverbs 23:18 ESV

Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.       

There is nothing happening that God can’t see us through.

Blessings.

Michelle

 

 

Healing Our Wounds – Skin and Relationships

scar-tissue
Healing skin wounds is a complex process. The same is true for relationship wounds.

Civility, caring for other people, conflict management, self-control, integrity are constructive traits.  I am disappointed and dismayed by the negativity in society right now.  As we near our national election there is blame, ridicule, slander, questionable integrity, and division.  Candidates and regular people on the streets are tearing each other apart.  These wounds can be hard to heal.  Consider what love, patience, and goodwill could do to aid healing in our society right now.

Healing skin wounds

Do you have any scars?  The body’s primary defense mechanism and largest organ is the skin.  Any breach in the skin’s integrity can allow bacteria and infection into the body, alter the body’s ability to regulate temperature and water storage, and it usually hurts.  The skin is a very sensitive organ.

Any cut, tear, wound results in an influx of parts of the immune system to start healing the wound.

If the wound is small enough, the skin on either side of the cut can rejoin, sometimes without even a scar.

If the wound is larger, the gap is too big to allow the two sides of the skin to reattach.  In that case, granulation tissue forms to fill the gap.  New small blood vessels grow in to the area, fibrin ‘scaffolding forms’ and cells build in around the fibrin.  Then, more small blood vessels are formed, more fibrin ‘scaffolding’ forms, and more cell fill in the area.  This continues until the whole space is filled with granulation tissue.  This appears as a scar.  The space where the wound left a gap that was filled with granulation tissue is noticeable.  That skin will not be or look the same.  Granulation tissue contains fewer cells and blood vessels compared to normal skin.

Healing relationship wounds

This scar tissue is only 60-85% as strong as normal tissue.  So although the body heals itself, it is not like the wound never happened.  That is so true of our emotional scars as well.  It’s too easy to let words fly when we’re angry.  In a rage, your objective might be to win and tear the other person down.  This might feel ‘good’ in the moment.  But what happens later?  What about the guilt and shame?  What about the damage done to the relationship?  Some things can’t be completely undone.  But much healing CAN be done, and a 60-85% healed relationship is better than no relationship at all.

For more information about how the body heals itself or the health impacts of negativity, contact us at http://www.medsmash.com/contact.

Biblical Application:

It can distressing to see so much negativity all over the media.  It seems to be adding to the negativity in the workplace, the community, the church, and the home.  I encourage us to take a deep breath and focus on our one stable source of hope and joy.

Our interpersonal differences can lead to cuts and wounds in families and groups.  If those cuts can be identified and resolved quickly through skilled communication and love, they can often heal without so much as a scar.

But, when they are left unaddressed or allowed to get worse and worse, the healing process can be messy and less effective than it would have been if handled quickly.  This is not to say that healing is impossible.  Just as the human body is amazing in its resilience, with mediation, healing, communication, and forgiveness, relationships can heal and grow.  They may not look the same, changes may occur, but reconnection and resumed integrity can be achieved.
Psalm 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
1 Peter 2:24
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

May your wounds, your relationships, your faith be strong.

Blessings,

Michelle Fritsch

yourhealthandsoul

Image showing granulation tissue filling a woundDo you have any scars?  The body’s primary defense mechanism and largest organ is the skin.  Any breach in the skin’s integrity can allow bacteria and infection into the body, alter the body’s ability to regulate temperature and water storage, and it usually hurts.  The skin is a very sensitive organ.

Any cut, tear, wound results in an influx of parts of the immune system to start healing the wound.

If the wound is small enough, the skin on either side of the cut can rejoin, sometimes without even a scar.

If the wound is larger, the gap is too big to allow the two sides of the skin to reattach.  In that case, granulation tissue forms to fill the gap.  New small blood vessels grow in to the area, fibrin ‘scaffolding forms’ and cells build in around the fibrin.  Then, more small blood vessels are formed, more fibrin…

View original post 242 more words

Hate and Health – Surviving These Days

Hate and ugliness can shape your life. It often comes out of nowhere. How you deal with it has a huge impact on your health.

You often can’t prevent it. You can’t predict. It hits you out of nowhere, so you can’t prepare for it. Yet, hate and ugliness touch most, if not all, of us at some time at least once.

What is the ugliest event that has occurred in your life? How have you been touched by hate? How did you handle it at the time? How have you handled it since?

As a nation and a global community we have seen and experienced acts of hate in so many forms recently. There is unrest stirred by fear, threats, and acts of terror. If this fear takes over in your life, your stress levels increase, your heart works harder, your risk of depression goes way up, anxiety increases, sleep is impaired, and your overall health declines.

Last week I talked about the health benefits of thinking about other people and their needs rather than focusing just on yourself. Altruism is very directly linked to improved health.

The other thing that was directly related to this particular medical mission to Jamaica from which I just returned was a tragic act of hate. The group with whom I worked, Teams for Medical Missions, www.t4mm.org, has been served for many years by long-term missionary couples in Jamaica. These couples have developed programs for children, programs for youth, programs to train ministers for local churches, built many houses, provided chronic and acute medical care by hosting medical mission teams, and so much more. They are Christian missionaries with a real passion for the people of Jamaica, in particular those in the more rural and underserved area of St. Mary Parish.

At the end of April, the two men of these couples were riding their motorcycles on some trails at the top of a mountain known to have beautiful views of the island. Two young men were in that area and heard the motorcycle motors. They decided to wait in a particular place where the motorcycles were sure to pass and ambush them. Both missionaries were killed. It was not a targeted act, just a needless act of hate.

This shook the entire island. The young men who had been actively served by events hosted by these couples for years now stay close to the wife who remains, and they have been staying at her house so she is not alone. The Prime Minister, head of island security, and many others have come to show their respect. Many people have expressed their sorrow in many tender ways.

These medical teams typically provide care in provisional clinics in four local churches once a quarter. People are given a 3-month supply of medication for chronic illnesses, and acute illnesses are treated. Many people in that Parish rely on those clinics for their medical care. I had the humbling experience of seeing the love and gratitude shared with the missionary wife and all of the team members. (All had been on these teams several times and knew the slain missionaries well. This was a very emotional trip for all who were simultaneously grieving and expressing the desire to keep moving forward.) Many residents expressed surprise the clinics were continuing. There was an expectation the mission would fold and return to the US after these deaths.

In spite of these acts of hate, the hope continues. Teri, an incredibly strong and faithful woman is staying and planning what the future can hold in this completely new scenario. Her grief is real and raw. Yet, she is not curled in a corner refusing to move forward.

Health in the midst of hate

The elements that are associated with maintaining health in the midst of hate are:

  • friends to talk to
  • people who care about you
  • a sense of self-worth
  • forgiveness
  • security
  • conflict management skills
  • religion/spirituality

These have all been linked with improved health.

And I will add having a source of HOPE. I believe hope is powerful in the midst of difficulty.

So, knowing that hate and ugliness can strike at any time, the best you can prepare is to take care of yourself, cherish your friends and family, develop your conflict management skills, and forgive others. Find your personal source of hope.  Like Teri, find ways to find hope and stay positive and undeterred in the face of hate.

For more information about hate and health, contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Hate, terror, oppression, racism, and other ugliness are all around. And, the Bible gives us indication this will only get worse.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 MSG

Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people.

I believe our role in these days is three fold:

  1. Be prepared

1 Peter 3:14-16 ESV

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

  1. Be discerning

Matthew 24:4-8 MSG

Jesus said, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, ‘I am Christ, the Messiah.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming.

  1. Be reaching out

Philippians 2:1-4 MSG

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

And another version of my favorite verses of the year about hope!

Romans 5:3-5 MSG

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Blessings,

Michelle

To feel better – do for someone else – altruism

DSC01221
Altruism helps others and improves your health

I am just back from Jamaica, and I need to write about altruism. I was working with a mission group called TEAMS. You can learn more about them at www.t4mm.org. This medical mission group included 3 physicians, 1 nurse practitioner, 2 nurses, 3 pharmacists, 3 for registration, 2 to be with the children while their parents received care, and 2 to provide prayer and emotional support to those coming for care.

We were serving in St. Mary Parish, one of the poorest of the country. Clinic was held in churches in four different areas of the Parish. A Parish is similar to a state in the United States. Sheets draped over ropes often separated exam rooms for physicians. I counseled people about their medications as they sat among many other people. So this was not a private setting. But, excellent practitioners provided individualized care with great compassion.

Each clinic served a particular community. Within that community you could look out at all who were waiting and see the way they cared for each other. Babies would be passed around, older members would be assisted with steps, others in nearby seats would assist with understanding when I was struggling with the Patois (English with a thick dialect spoken very quickly).

It was very hot. Fans helped to stir the air. There was no running water. (I am so thankful for hand sanitizer). Some children had lice or scabies yet they waited patiently with their family. You know they had to be miserable between the heat and the intense itching. Some people had to wait from early morning until mid afternoon to be seen.

Yet, I didn’t hear one person complain. No one was demanding to know why their wait was so long. No one was complaining about the conditions. No one was asserting their needs or rights before someone else’s.

On the medical team, several people were struggling with their own health issues. One was on crutches due to a broken leg; one was recovering from bronchitis; one had a cold; several had various aches and pains. The age range of the care team was 22 to 82. Personally, my leg is still recovering from a ripped calf muscle, and my back has been hurting from all of the time that I was on crutches and a boot.

What struck me was how none of that mattered! Rather than thinking about our issues, we were completely focused on all of the people who had arrived to receive care. My leg did fine the entire week, even carrying heavy tables and boxes and fans to set up and take down clinic every day up steep hills and steps. I didn’t do my back stretches or sit around rubbing my back the way I do at home. That is because I wasn’t even thinking about my back.

Altruism

Altruism is, ‘feelings and behavior that show a desire to help other people and a lack of selfishness’ as defined by Merriam-Webster. I have read several articles linking altruism as a factor in happiness, health, and how long you live. In general, studies have shown that people who focus on others are happier and even live longer, in general. In 2005, Stephen Post published an article in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine entitled, ‘Altruism, Happiness, and Health: It’s Good to be Good’. A quote from the article is, ‘The article concludes, with some caveats, that a strong correlation exists between the well-being, happiness, health, and longevity of people who are emotionally and behaviorally compassionate, so long as they are not overwhelmed by helping tasks.’

I have seen truth in this in many instances. While I was doing post-graduate training in Wisconsin a study demonstrated that home-bound elders who were in a calling circle.  Those who called to check on each other and remind each other to take medications felt less isolated and more valued. A project called the Eden Alternative long ago demonstrated the value in having daily purpose for everyone in a nursing home setting. Depending on ability level residents would care for a cat or dog, garden, water plants, feed birds, feed fish, or other activities. It was a huge success and continues today! Everyone needs to be needed. That sense of purpose and belonging plays a big role in overall health, including anxiety levels, pain, and depression.

When was the last time you focused on the needs of someone else? I encourage you to find a way each day this week to meet someone else’s needs. Some examples are to check on an older neighbor; take a meal to someone who recently had surgery; call a mom with small children to see if you can grab some things for her when you go to the grocery store and save her a trip.

For more information about how altruism is connected to health, contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

It is no surprise that altruism is linked to enhanced health. Jesus told us many times about the importance of selflessness.

John 15:12-14 ESV

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

Daily devotions, a lot of singing, and prayer with each community were cherished parts of this mission.  The care was among providers, among recipients, among those at the church helping with coordination, and among those providing protection.  My visual each day was being filled up with the Spirit to be completely poured out by the end of the day.

Some say Christian selflessness is not true altruism because we will be rewarded for such care and compassion. Ultimately, eternally a reward is waiting. But while here in this life, you might not see a reward. In fact, your giving isn’t meant to be for show.

Matthew 6:2-4 MSG

“When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

Paul, Peter, Luke, John, and many other writers in the New Testament extol the virtues of giving to others.

Philippians 2:4 ESV

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Luke 6:35 ESV

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

1 Peter 3:8 ESV

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

What can you do today to help someone else?

Proverbs 19:17 ESV

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

Blessings,

Michelle

Gratitude

Gratitude – keeps you healthier

Gratitude
Being thankful for what you have improves your health

Gratitude, grateful, thankful, thanksgiving, appreciation

What do these words mean to you? What role do they play in your everyday life?

Wow, I am amazed how much information is available on this important link between being thankful and health. Just search for these two terms and see what all you will find.

What is gratitude?

This is being aware of all of the good things in your life. And it is being thankful for those things. Have you considered being thankful for:

  • A safe place to sleep
  • Food to eat
  • Clothes to cover yourself
  • Having a friend to call
  • Your job – current or past
  • A beautiful day

This simple awareness of and being thankful for these ‘little’ things can boost your health.

Note, it doesn’t have to be the biggest house or the softest bed or the tastiest food or the latest fashion clothing to be grateful. Gratitude focuses on what you have – all of the good things – rather than what you don’t have.

Expressing gratitude can:

  • Boost your spirits and sense of well-being
  • Boost your immune system making you less likely to get sick
  • Decrease your chances of heart disease
  • Improve your performance (grades, work productivity, concentration)
  • Bust your stress

There are many ways you can make gratitude part of your life. Here are a few recommended in a Harvard Mental Health newsletter:

  • Write a thank-you note
  • Go up and thank someone
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Pray
  • Meditate
  • Keep a list of your thanks = count your blessings

See your day and your health improve by focusing on the positive.  Try starting your day with a list of things for which you are thankful.  On those nights you can’t sleep, name all of the good things in your life.  Let that override the worries and things you can’t control.

On this Independence Day weekend, as a country, we have much reason for gratitude!

For more information on gratitude and health, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

We have so many reasons to be grateful!

Have you ever been in a ‘funk’ having a bad day and then remembered to be grateful? I have done this so many times. When all looks dark and gloomy, make yourself think about all of the things that are good and right.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I’ll quickly admit I don’t always think to do this. I stay in that dark place far too long. Later, once I’m out I realize I had the ‘magic potion’ to leave that darkness behind. It was given to us by Christ when he died to erase our sins. It was given to us by God who maintained His love and focus on the good in the Jews through centuries of missteps (just as we live a series of missteps).

Lamentations 3:23 ESV

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I don’t even know where to begin selecting Bible verses to draw us closer to the benefits of gratitude. There are so many!!!

Psalm 118:24 ESV

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Colossians 3:17 ESV

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Psalm 136:1 ESV

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Ephesians 1:16 ESV

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,

James 1:17 ESV

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

I feel energized, positive, and excited just reading these verses full of hope and promise! I am thankful for each person who takes the time to read this. May you be blessed by these assurances from God!

I pray you can stay focused on the many good things in your life this week and that can keep you out of the dark, gloomy places.

Blessings,

Michelle

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Is It Real?

Slide1
There are growing resources, help, and hope for those with PTSD.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is finally becoming a topic that is discussed – in public. It finally has ‘a voice’ and several avenues of treatment to address it.

I was fortunate to serve about seven years of my career in the Veterans Affairs system. I worked alongside some of the best, most caring providers and the most robust interprofessional teams. These teams consisted of physicians (geriatricians who focus on people over 65, in my case), nurses, pharmacists, dieticians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and every level of trainee – students, residents, and fellows. Together we provided care to aging adults in the clinic, the acute care hospital, the intermediate unit, long-term-care (nursing home), and the domiciliary. The ‘dom’ was long term, independent housing for veterans who did not have a family to live with after the war.

I am thankful for every veteran that has served our country in one of the countless ways our uniformed services care for this country every day. The stories I heard during those years were enlightening, empowering, endearing, and sometimes gut wrenching. I have heard others say this: In my experience, those who talked the least about their service saw the most ‘action’ and devastation.

One day I was in clinic with a student. It was a very normal day. As the pharmacist, my visits mostly pertained to medications – why, how, when they are taken and the result. On this day, during a normal pharmacy clinic visit, one of our veterans told his story. It forever changed my life. Here is a paraphrase. I will leave out the specific war, because the story could fit any of them.

“I was assigned the night guard shift for my platoon. It was my duty to walk around the perimeter of the base to look for anyone (of the enemy) who might try to attack at night. It was typically uneventful. One night, as I rounded a corner, I was face-to-face with a man from the ‘other side.’ In a split second I thought about my family – my wife and children. I thought about how I just want to go home to them. I thought I don’t know this man. I don’t hate this man. He probably has a wife and children waiting for him at home, too. We might even be friends in other circumstances.’

We all sat and cried for a long time.

After this event, this man, this veteran had a mental breakdown. He was sent to an island where soldiers not able to function in combat were stationed during that war. While there he started trying to stop reliving the event through alcohol. When he finally got home to his wife and children, he was an alcoholic. He had posttraumatic stress disorder. But, it wasn’t recognized, diagnosed, and treated as it is now. I certainly don’t know all of the details, but he and his family were not able to reunite and stay together. It broke my heart to see what had happened. I wonder if his wife and children ever knew what happened? I wonder if knowing could have changed the outcome for their family. No doubt he would be forever changed after an experience like that.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a condition where there is stress and symptoms for more than three months after a trauma or highly stressful event (or series of events). The stress and symptoms disrupt regular daily activities and are distressing. PTSD can result from war (as in the example above), natural disasters, sexual or physical assault, horror, accidents, or other terrifying event. PTSD can present in about four different ways.

  1. Reliving the event – nightmares, flashbacks, triggers
  2. Avoiding any reminders of the event – driving if in a car crash; crowds if they cause insecurity; fireworks if associated with gunfire; movies related to the event
  3. Negative feelings or changes in feelings about the world and the future; suppressing or forgetting parts of the event
  4. Feeling keyed up (hyperarousal) – easily startled, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating

Treatment has multiple components. Understanding PTSD is an important step. Counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy can help. In cognitive behavioral therapy, people can become aware of thoughts and feelings, and that allows them to be processed and better understood. Then skills to face those feelings and make changes in a way that allows them to have less impact are developed. For each person, this process is different. There are highly trained, experienced therapists who will work with each personal individually.

For medication treatment, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are most commonly used. These are medications that are also commonly used to treat depression and anxiety. They are unlikely to resolve symptoms alone. They are an important part of the multiple components of treatment.

Other components might be exposure therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and more.

A recommended site to learn more about PTSD is through the VA.

Again, there is a growing number of resources available to anyone who might be experiencing PTSD. If you or someone you know might have PTSD, please seek help right away. To suffer alone is not the answer. Alcohol, drugs, and suicide are not the answer. Help is available!

For more information about PTSD, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

PTSD is a real disorder. It is estimated about 3.5% of adults in the US have PTSD. Over 9% of people ages 50-65 have now or have experienced PTSD.

It can be hard to think rationally when suffering from PTSD. The terror, stress, and anxiety can keep the brain in ‘fight or flight’ mode. When in this mode, reflection, perspective, and problem-solving functions are very limited.

So, how can you support someone suffering from PTSD? Understanding the disorder and being a source of compassion and love are good places to start.

No platitude or Bible verse makes PTSD go away. Some Christian leaders have implied PTSD is something that can be chosen or can be avoided with a focus on God. I strongly disagree. Sinful people can hurt, traumatize, and destroy other people. Even people who know and love God can be traumatized.

But as people of God, we can support people who have suffered. If you have PTSD, know you are not alone. If you know someone who has (or you suspect may have) PTSD, approach with God’s unconditional love. Support through the many stages and steps of recovery and learning to cope. PTSD doesn’t just go away at some point; it might take a lifetime of coping and skill building to live in spite of past trauma.

There are many stories of violence, war, and crimes in the Bible.

These are followed by God’s restorative grace and mercy.

There are many verses about love, strength, deliverance, and rest for our soul.

In time, with treatment and a strong support network, these conversations can be had.

Until then, in the more acute phases when the brain is so busy with ‘fight or flight’ mode, prayer, presence, and unconditional love are ways you can start the story of grace.

Be on the lookout for people who may have PTSD who are not yet receiving treatment. Pray for the many people in our world who are PTSD victims. Love and care for those with PTSD in your life.

1 John 4:11-12 The Message (MSG)

My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!

Blessings,

Michelle