Redwood forest serenity

Serenity- Exploring this component of your health

Redwood forest serenity
Finding time for quiet serenity is key to good health.

Where do you find serenity? Webster defines

serenity as, ‘the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled’.

I have just returned from a trip of celebration with my Mom (70), me (50), and my daughters aged 18 and 16. We have been planning this trip for over a year. One of my favorite aspects was the serene places we found. While in the Redwood Forest it was awe inspiring and silent. Even though there were other people in the forest, somehow we couldn’t hear them if we weren’t beside them. To be in the midst of those giant trees and surrounded by giant ferns, it was so calm, awe-inspiring, and yes, serene.

The Redwoods were protected from excess logging by conservation efforts including the formation of the Redwood National Park in 1968. Then President Nixon dedicated a grove in the park to Lady Bird Johnson. Here is a quote on a plaque in that grove that struck me:

‘One of my most unforgettable memories of the past years is walking through the Redwoods last November – seeing the lovely shafts of light filtering through the trees so far above, feeling the majesty and silence of that forest, and watching a salmon rise in one of those swift streams – all our problems seemed to fall into perspective and I think every one of us walked out more serene and happier.’ Lady Bird Johnson, July 30, 1969

The part that grabbed my attention was, ‘all our problems seemed to fall into perspective…’

When was the last time you felt truly serene? How often do you slow down and allow yourself to just truly relax? What are the places or activities that bring you to that place of serenity?

Serenity and health

When you are calm, peaceful, and untroubled your whole body benefits. Your blood vessels relax, your blood pressure lowers, you breath more deeply, and your think more clearly. Your immune system is more active and you sleep more deeply.

I have been fascinated by the book, ‘The God-Shaped Brain’ by Dr. Timothy R. Jennings who is a psychiatrist and psycho-pharmacologist. He makes a compelling case that directly relates to serenity and health. He describes which part of your brain is working for you to think, reason, and plan. There is also a part that allows you to experience empathy, compassion, and love. When you are serene, these parts of your brain are fully operating.

When you are stressed, other parts of your brain take over. They put you in ‘fight or flight’ mode so that you are fully alert and ready to tackle the source of the stress. You were designed to have this stress alarm triggered only in rare truly life-threatening situations. However, in today’s society, so many of us are under constant stress. This system starts taking over our brain on a regular basis. As this stress system takes charge of your brain, your ability to think clearly, calmly, and to genuinely relate to others declines.

You have the power to give your stress signals a rest. As you do, and the more you do, the better your brain will function. You will be able to think through problems, plan, and prioritize. You will feel more connected to your own feelings, be able to manage them, and relate more to other people.

One of the best parts is that you will be free to think less about your own needs and more about the needs of others. That has been explored in previous blogs and will be explored again. There is a mountain of evidence that this is very good for your health!

The Role of Medications

There are many medications available to you that in some way target your mood, your anxiety, your depression, your anger, your emotions, and/or your reactions. These have a role. They cannot produce serenity. They cannot remove your stresses or your responses to them. They can help you cope. They are most effective when combined with therapy that can help you decrease the control of your stress response in your brain and let your thinking and loving parts of your brain resume control.

When medications are used, they should be used with great care and at the best doses. Your best medication and dose depend on several factors:

  • your kidneys and how they function
  • your liver and how it functions
  • side effects you might experience
  • your allergies
  • interactions with your other medications and your other medical conditions
  • evidence (studies that have been done to demonstrate what works best in a situation like yours)

The Role of Meds MASH

At Meds MASH a medication-use expert who is specialized in people over age 60 will help you and your doctor make sure the best, safest, most effective medication is used and only for the time period necessary. Meds MASH specialists can also help you find the counseling component you need to go with your medications.

Contact us today at 410-472-5078 or www.medsmash.com/contact or e-mail me at michelle@medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

With each moment of our lives we have one basic decision to make. Will you make a choice for yourself or a choice for others? Jesus tells us our basic guiding principles are:

Luke 10:27 NIV

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

I mentioned the book I have been reading, ‘The God-Shaped Brain’. Dr. Jennings focused the book on how our brain functions when we are living according to God’s plan of love vs when we are not.

We get further and further from God’s plan the more we focus on ourself. Pride, envy, harbored resentment, anger, judgmental attitudes, and lust are just a few of the ways we turn our focus to ourself and our own needs.

Galatians 5:19-21 ESV

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Timothy 6:4 ESV

He is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,

1 Corinthians 3:3 ESV

For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?

God’s plan is rooted in love and turns our focus outward. It also promotes the ‘best’ function of our brain, reduced stress, lower blood pressure, enhanced immune system function, and overall joy.

1 Corinthians 13:4 ESV

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant

Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

It sounds so simple, but it is so hard to pursue and maintain. It is a daily, moment-by-moment decision to love and keep the focus turned outward. God is with you each of those moments ready to guide you and enable you to make those positive decisions.

Blessings,

Michelle

Feeling Stress – Find Health in Hope and Looking Outside Yourself

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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

 

 

Gratitude and Satisfaction – Healthcare Perspective

jamaica-group-wait
Have you expressed gratitude for your healthcare?

When was the last time you expressed gratitude for your healthcare? How often are you satisfied with the healthcare you receive? When do you suppose is the last time your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, medical assistant, intake/discharge specialist, or billing office received a ‘Thank you!’?

I encourage you to take a moment and list the last five benefits you received from your healthcare providers?

Here is my current list:

  1. Emergency services in the middle of a blizzard for a head injury for a child.
  2. A surgeon and many, many supportive people for a rotator cuff repair.
  3. A patient, engaging ophthalmologist helping a frustrated teen with vision-related headaches.
  4. Access to an annual mammogram with follow up ultrasound whenever something looks suspicious.
  5. Preventative vaccines and personalized guidance from my physician in preparation for third-world healthcare provision.

Healthcare gratitude I experienced in Jamaica

I can’t stop thinking about my week in Jamaica and the many insights I took away. I was honored to serve with a team of about 20 people caring for people in St. Mary Parish, an underserved portion of Jamaica. We had physicians, nurses, pharmacists, medical records, check-in, child-care, and spiritual support specialists. (Remember that spiritual health is a key aspect to overall health).

Two situations have especially stood out to me. One was a woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. She was treated with a mastectomy. She did not have access to radiation or chemotherapy. Now, in 2016, she had a lump under her arm. The physician prescribed an antibiotic. We are all hoping and praying it is an infected cyst and not cancer. Guess what? She was grateful for the care and for the antibiotics! She did not demand other therapy. She was not disgruntled. [Maybe she doesn’t know how it would be treated in a developed country with insurance. Then again, her gratitude and lack of stress over options can actually be to her benefit.]

The other situation was a young boy with low hemoglobin, so he was anemic. Hemoglobin carries oxygen throughout the body. There are several possible causes of anemia in a child. We were able to give him multivitamins and iron supplements. His mother was surprised to hear he was anemic. He was outside playing with the other children as we talked about the medicine. When he came in she showed me how strong and healthy he looks. She was very satisfied with the vitamins and iron. I couldn’t help but think how differently that exchange would likely be here in the US. Parents would want a series of tests to rule out any obscure implication of the anemia. [Note, anemia in children is not uncommon in Jamaica. Children are breastfed for an extended period by mothers who do not have prenatal vitamins. Then, because meat is expensive, the diet has less iron in it.]

Health benefits of gratitude

It is so easy to find fault in other people and in systems. Add the element of fear that comes with medical diagnoses, and people often have very negative reactions in the healthcare setting. That increases stress for the patient, any caregivers with the patient, the physician, and all members of the healthcare team.

Consider the benefits of gratitude instead. 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 (job, concentration)
  • Bust your stress

By all means, when mistakes are made they need to be addressed. But mistakes are not the norm. People go to school for many, many years to be able to provide the best healthcare they can provide.

We saw hundreds of patients in very hot August in Jamaica in churches with no air conditioning and few fans. And I only heard one person complain over five very full days. That woman didn’t understand why the man next to her got more diabetes medication than she got. Once she understood it took more medicine to manage his sugar she was satisfied.

If you would like to hear more about my trip to Jamaica or about the health benefit of gratitude, contact me at www.medsmash.com/newsblog/.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Life feels so different when we live in gratitude rather than dissatisfaction. Negativity stresses us out and ultimately kills us.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

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

I have a new source of gratitude this week.

Do you ever have a God moment when something becomes so clear? I received the best analogy this week. And I can’t wait to tell you about it!

It likens faith with a child going on vacation.

When a family is going on vacation, the child knows the mom or other adult will pack the clothes, the snacks, the sunscreen, the towels, and anything needed for that vacation. The child knows someone will take care of the directions, putting gas in the tank, making hotel reservations, and other travel details. The child knows there will be a safe place to sleep, some fun adventures along the way, food to eat, and all basic needs will be met. The child gets in the car when told it’s time and follows the lead of the adults who have planned the trip. The child is along for the fun with no stress and no second-guessing the plans.

Wow, isn’t that like faith? God’s got this! He has plans for your life. He has plans for each year, month, day, minute, … Faith is being the child with full faith in the adults who are in charge of the details.

Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Isaiah 42:16 NIV

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,

    along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;

I will turn the darkness into light before them

    and make the rough places smooth.

These are the things I will do;

    I will not forsake them.

I encourage you to spend less time on daily travel details and more time letting God take the lead this week.

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?

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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

Four Components of True Health – Emotional Health

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Caring for and by others is key

The fourth of the four components of health is emotional health. True health requires health in all four components. Over the last three weeks we covered physical, mental, and spiritual health. Striving to attain health in all four areas enhances your overall health.

Emotional health refers to how you deal with life and its ups and downs. Everyone goes through difficult trials. The specifics are different between people. Even for you, there will be a wide variety of difficult times you experience.   Everyone has good days. These can be peaceful, contended days; days where you reach a goal; days where you are celebrated; and days when you feel loved and secure.

Your feelings play a big role in your emotional health. People express their feelings in many different ways. Some people are more visibly emotional. Other people keep their emotions carefully hidden from view. Either way, emotions can impact our behaviors. How we act, how we respond, how we treat people, and how we feel about ourselves can all be affected by our emotions.

Why does my emotional health matter?

When looking at the differences between healthy people and not so healthy people, researchers have found emotional health to be a key factor.

How do you handle your anger? How kind are you to yourself in your ‘self talk’? How do you express your joy? What is your response when someone criticizes you? How often do you put other people’s needs before your own? Do you feel like the world is out to get you? How do you respond when your car breaks down? How do you feel when you forget to send a birthday card on time? What makes you happy? What makes you sad?

Studies have shown that prolonged stress and negativity make you age faster. There are actually measurable changes in your brain (shorter telomere length and less activity). This stress can also make you more susceptible to other diseases. Your blood pressure can go up, risk of heart disease goes up, and risk of diabetes goes up.

Improved health does not come from lack of negative situations. It comes from how you handle those situations.

The research has shown that the people who are more emotionally healthy have:

  • Friend(s) to talk to
  • People who care about you
  • A sense of self-worth
  • Ability to give and receive forgiveness
  • Conflict management skills
  • A desire to be giving toward others
  • Concern for others

As you can see, these are not things you are born with. They are skills and attitudes you can develop. They are choices you can make. They are best navigated with friends and supportive people around you.

Similarly, other researchers found that keys to overall health are:

  • Thinking kindly of people
  • Feeling optimistic
  • Supportive friends & family
  • Ability to bounce back
  • Making healthy choices
  • Being grateful for all you have

I found it interesting that the findings are so similar. Other studies have supported these important areas of emotional health. When you feel good, your thinking of more creative and flexible. You see problems with more possibilities and solutions.

So, I encourage you to take a personal assessment of your current emotional health. Consider the things that delight you and the things that upset you. Where can you incorporate more of the listed items that are shared among people with more emotional health?

Medications can help on a short-term basis when circumstances have you so upset you can’t function or sleep. Long-term emotional health, however, is gained more through self-insight, positive choices, and self-development.

If you would like citations for the studies mentioned or have any questions about the role of your emotional health on your overall health, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

(Note, severe abuse, neglect, and trauma are much different than daily negative situations. This blog is not intended to cover the health effects of these experiences that usually involve severe mental illness of the perpetrator.)

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Our emotions can guide so many of our behaviors, especially if we don’t have an anchor of hope. Resilience is the result of knowing God’s love and mercy never fail. No matter the situation, you are not alone, and you have the ultimate resource walking with you.

Throughout the Bible we are assured that bad things will happen. Since sin entered the world, this has been a basic fact. Throughout the Bible we are assured there is hope and joy that can get us through any situation.

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.

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.”

As we go through difficult times, either big life-altering events or short bursts of anger or frustration, we are encouraged to give those over to God. We aren’t meant to figure it all out or deal with it on our own. Actually, when we do try to handle things ourselves, we often get into trouble.

Proverbs 29:11 ESV

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

Proverbs 15:18 ESV

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

A focus on God can help calm our storms. Once we learn to navigate the storms, we can be a better support to those around us.

Romans 12:2 ESV

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:15 ESV

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Proverbs 15:13 ESV

A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.

I love this visual of Romans 5:3-5. With each time around the circle, we grow in hope and joy and the certainty of God’s love. This can then spill over to others.

Slide1Blessings,

Michelle

Holiday Stress and Anxiety – Your Healthiest Treatment Options

fireworks_black_150_thmThis is such a joyous exciting season! Many faiths have reason to celebrate this time of year. Many people have long-held precious traditions. Family and friends make special effort to be together. Receptions, parties, brunches, gatherings, and meals are planned.

Do find that this season gives you energy and good, warm feelings?

Or, do elements of this season make you anxious?

Do the preparations, busy calendar, and financial outflow give you stress?

I hope not. But if they do, you are definitely not alone. About 44% of women and 31% of men report an increased level of stress at holiday time. Some rate the hype, finances and issues as mentioned above, as the source of their stress. Others point to discomfort with social situations.

I want to share something helpful I recently read. It is interesting that we each feel like others are looking at and judging us in such situations. In reality, all of those people are having the same self-conscious feelings about themselves.

So, if you are feeling additional stress, what are your best alternatives to manage it?

Alcohol may seem like a good option, but it actually puts you at risk for a fall or a driving accident. Then, it makes you feel even more tired the next day. And, alcohol and drugs can make your stress worse rather than better.

A class of medication used for stress for decades is benzodiazepines. These medications include alprazolam, lorazepam, diazepam, and brand names like Valium and Xanax. They have made the lists of medications that are not safe for most people over the age of 65. They aren’t good options for people under age 65 either with very few exceptions. They make it hard to think clearly, increase risk of falling or other injury, and increase risk of driving accidents. When these are taken regularly, dependence develops. Then it becomes hard to get back off of them. So, I recommend you DO NOT use benzodiazepines to manage holiday stress.

A good night of sleep can be very helpful in dealing with stress. But, using medicine to get to sleep can put you at risk. These medicines include zolpidem/Ambien, zaleplan/Sonata, and eszopiclone/Lunesta. This list also includes over-the-counter sleep aids like diphenhydramine found in Benadryl, Tylenol PM, and Aleve PM. Doxylamine is another ingredient found in sleep aids and cold/flu combinations that has strong anticholinergic side effects. This means it can cause constipation, dry eyes, falls, and can cause slowed thinking.

So what are some safer ways to manage holiday stress?

Take care of yourself :-).

Healthy tips

  • Eat healthy foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables. Limit fattening party foods.
  • Drink plenty of water/fluids to avoid dehydration while running around busy. Limit the caffeine to avoid the ‘crash’ later and to protect your heart.
  • Get some exercise to clear your head and improve your mood.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Note, the exercise and avoiding alcohol will help with your sleep.
  • Take a break. Taking some time to relax, pray, meditate, or get a massage can help you recalibrate.

For more information about manageing holiday stress, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Does the Bible give any guidance about managing stress? Oh yes, from the dawn of time people have had fears, doubts, stress, and anxiety. Repeatedly, God has called us back to him. He repeatedly tells us that HIS peace is sufficient and beyond our understanding. Let some of these verses bring you a new perspective.

Philippians 4:6 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

John 14:27 ESV

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Psalm 55:22 ESV

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 118:5-6 ESV

Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?

Romans 8:31 ESV

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

In addition, an interesting ‘tip’ is given to help us find more peace. Reaching out to other people benefits both them and us.

Galatians 6:10 ESV

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

John 13:35 ESV

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Proverbs 12:25 ESV

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.

The list of related Bible verses goes on and on. We were not created to live in anxiety and stress. May the peace of our Lord and Savior be yours this Christmas!

Blessings,

Michelle

 

Hypertension ≠ High Tension

I have Heart - NIHhad several clients who have interpreted the medical condition hypertension as ‘high tension’. They thought this was a condition related to stress. And then, several thought the condition was only present when they were feeling stressed.

How much stress is there in your life right now? How much stress is there in the world? Some of us feel stressed much of the time. Others take a laid back approach to life and rarely feel stress.

Is it true that the stressed people have hypertension and the laid back people don’t?

NO

Hypertension (also known as high blood pressure) is a medical condition that goes way beyond stress or tension. It is a complex condition that is related to our genes (which we can’t control), our environment (some of which we can control), our behaviors (which we CAN control), and likely other factors that are still to be discovered.

Because it is such a complex condition with so many systems in the body involved, there are many medications that are used to treat it. Each category, or type, of medicaion treats hypertension in a different way. So, for some people, hypertension can be controlled with one medication. For other people, it could take two, three, four, or more medications, each acting on a different aspect of the condition.

How high is too high? The very general answer is a blood pressure over 140/90 is too high based on current guidelines. If someone has a history of heart disease or diabetes or some other conditions, your doctor might give you a lower goal such as less than 130/80.

How low is too low? Too low is not a strict number. Rather, it is more related to symptoms. If you feel dizzy when you stand or turn, have seen a marked decrease in your energy since starting your hypertension medicine, or are having trouble catching your breath, talk with your doctor.

Blood pressure that gets too high can be dangerous. It can lead to a myocardial infarction (heart attack) or stroke.

So what can you do about hypertension if you have it?

Check back next week for a ‘prescription’ for lowering and controlling your blood pressure.

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

Biblical Application

Do you have stress in your life? Do you worry? Does your mind keep you awake at night thinking about all you need to do, or the things you are worried about?

I don’t know about you, but just watching the news can increase my stress level. It all seems so out of control.

It is at those times that we can be assured that God is in control. Ultimately, God wins. This universe, all of history, all current events, and the future belong to Him.

On Sunday our pastor mentioned that you could sum up the entire Bible in two words – GRACE and PEACE. Jesus came to provide access to both. His grace and peace are with us at all times; we just need to quiet ourselves, turn our hearts and minds to Him to experience it.

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.

Matthew 6:34 ESV

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

1 Peter 5:7 NIV

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

John 14:27 NLT

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. God is in control.

Blessings,

Michelle

Image Source:  National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services