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

U-Turn ahead – not too late to turn your health around

Slide1
Turn your health around. Make changes to improve your health.

Is it too late to turn your health around? Although we were raised certain ways we can still make a U-turn, or at least navigate a big curve. I was raised with dessert every day, lots of processed foods, little to no access to seafood, and limited fresh vegetables beyond summer. Meals were built around meat and potatoes. As for exercise, anyone who knows me can attest to my utter lack of athletic ability. So, should we settle for life-long habits and figure it’s too late to make changes now?

Actually, there is a LOT of evidence that changes, at all stages of life, still help you. Below are just a few of the most common habits/choices that can be changed in a way that really makes you feel better.

Changes to turn your health around

  • Quit smoking –
    • Just 20 minutes after you quit your blood pressure and heart rate decrease.
    • Your risk of a heart attack starts to go down at 24 hours.
    • Taste and smell start to improve at 48 hours.
    • After 1-5 years your risk of heart disease is cut in half.
    • After 10 years your risk of lung cancer is almost as low as a lifelong nonsmoker.
  • Weight loss – short and long term
    • Small weight loss can have big advantages.
    • If you lose 5-10% of your body weight, your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol all improve.
    • Your risk of heart disease goes down.
    • It gets easier to breathe.
    • Sleep apnea can improve helping you sleep better and be less sleepy during the day.
    • Your sex drive
    • Joint pain
  • Diet changes –
    • Decreasing your daily calories by 500-1,000 per day will decrease weight 1-2 pounds per week. [Faster weight loss is not as healthy and hard to sustain.]
    • Gradually add more interesting fruits and vegetables to your diet.
      • Sudden, drastic changes are not necessary and are hard to do.
      • More variety in fruits and vegetables will increase the types of vitamins and nutrients you get.
    • Change up your fat
      • Exchange some of your red meat meals for fish (your grocery store meat section will likely have instructions on how to prepare whatever is on sale or available in the meat section).
      • Try nuts for snacks over sugary snacks.
    • Sugar
      • Drink more water or unsweetened beverages in place of sugary soda or fruit juice.
      • Eat smaller portions of your dessert, as a starting point to cut back.
  •  Exercise
    • Get moving – it helps with more than just weight control.
    • Decrease joint pain and strain, especially your lower back.
    • Get stronger and be more resilient against small strains and sprains.
    • Be more flexible.
    • Decrease your risk of a fall that could injure you.
    • Stay healthy and independent longer through fitness.
    • Have more energy and stamina.
    • Exercise doesn’t have to mean joining a gym or playing a sport.
      • Get up and move around during commercial breaks on TV.
      • Park farther from the front door.
      • Go for a walk with a friend.
      • Window shop in all of the stores at the mall before making a purchase.

U-turns are allowed in your life. No matter your age and for how long you have been doing things a certain way, make a change. Turn your health around. See how much better you can feel with very small changes starting today.

For more information about healthy choices and making a U-turn, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Are you drowning in your negative self-talk? Are you always striving to do better? Or, are you constantly making excuses and blaming others for your weaknesses?

These are such easy routes to take! They are such easy ruts to fall into.

Will you ever be at peace and feel that all is right in your world? What would that take?

My understanding of the Bible is that the peace and promise you’re seeking is available to you RIGHT NOW.

There is nothing you have done that God doesn’t already know about. You can’t hide. Rather than being terrified by that, realize you are loved. You are loved and accepted and forgivable. Absolutely nothing you have done could make God turn away from you.

1 John 4:18 ESV

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Grace, mercy, and forgiveness are right here waiting for you.

Romans 5:8 ESV

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

You could absolutely never do anything so terrible that would exclude you from the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

It was this love that led to Jesus’ death – all for your sins and mine. And because of that sacrifice, you are saved.

Let’s look again at 1 John 4:17-18 from The Message:

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

Not only can you take a U-turn in your daily physical health choices, you can take a U-turn in your spiritual health. Stop hiding. Stop beating yourself up. Embrace this love that is completely yours. You are forgiven as soon as you let go and give your all to God who loves you with no conditions.

Blessings,

Michelle

 

Happiness, Hope, and Health

Slide2What defines your best days?

When do you feel the most happy and free?

In your darkest days, what is your source of hope?

Scientists, philosophers, and every-day people have been asking these questions for centuries.

Interestingly, studies have shown that more money is not linked to happiness. Actually, more money is associated with higher depression and anxiety rates.

Thinking kindly about other people and helping other people is linked to health, living longer, and overall well-being. Rather than focusing on yourself and your own problems, who could benefit from your care?

Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that happier people are healthier people. It is fascinating that happier people don’t necessarily have more stuff, live with more innovations, or have more resources. This is especially true for psychological and emotional health.

Proposed keys to a happier and healthy life:

  • Feelings of enthusiasm, engagement, and hope
  • Feeling optimistic that good things are going to happen
  • Having supportive family and friends
  • Being able to bounce back from bad situations and make healthy choices

Some aspects of health go beyond diagnoses and medications. Perhaps those elements are at our deepest core and the ones that need the most attention.

Hope is integral to happiness. It is also a key aspect of recovery. It is the element that pulls you away from the slippery slope to negativity. Many people with hope usually believe in a higher power with a sense of spirituality.

So, again, ask yourself, what makes you happy? For what are you grateful? What is your source of hope? What changes can you make today to do something helpful for another person?

The answers could be your source of health.

For more information about the literature on this topic and the relationship between happiness, hope, and health, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

So what are the answers to the questions? God, your loving, merciful, forgiving, creator is the source of all hope. Have you experienced that grace? Are you confident in that unconditional love?

It is hard to imagine life without this source of hope. What would each day be like not knowing the God of the universe?

If you do not have a daily, personal relationship with God, keep reading.

God can be your source of hope to get beyond anything that has happened in the past, of strength in the present, and of excitement for the promises of the future.

Romans 12:12 ESV

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

Romans 15:13 NIV

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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.

You are deeply and unconditionally loved. God has big plans for you.

Bad things will still happen. Some days will be harder than others. Most of the future will be unknown. (But we know the ultimate outcome is eternal life in Christ!)

Romans 5:2-5 ESV

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

May this hope and love be your source of happiness and health!

Blessings,

Michelle