Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Living a Humble Life is Good for You

PsyBlog recently came up with eight psychological benefits of being humble.  As a God-fearing, Christian woman I am well aware of how important it is to live a life of humility.

Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

As well in Proverbs 15:33 “The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom and humility comes before honor.”

God guides us with his words in Titus 3:2 “to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.”

We will be rewarded for our humility, according to Matthew 23:12 “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

God made a promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

In Proverbs 3:34, “He mocks proud mockers, but gives grace to the humble.”

I believe in God’s promises and I hope that I can lead a life of humility that He is proud of and celebrates my life.


Current society does not celebrate a humble person. They seek those who are over confident and exuberant.  It is the excitement and drama of reality TV that catches the world’s attention, not that of a middle aged woman who wants to help other writers become successful in any way she can.

But, even with God’s grace, I can gain psychological benefits of being humble.

1.     Humble people are better able to cope with anxiety about their mortality.
2.     Humble leaders are not only better liked, but are more effective leaders.
3.     Having high self-control is one key to a successful life.
4.     The humble not only make better managers, but make better employees.
5.     Being humble may make you better in school.
6.     Humble people don’t think they are entitled.
7.     Humble people are more helpful.
8.     Humble people have better relationships because they are better at accepting people for who they are.


Dictionary.com defines “humble”
  
hum·ble [huhm-buhl, uhm-] 
adjective, hum·bler, hum·blest.
1.
not proud or arrogant; modest: to be humble although successful.
2.
having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc.: In the presence of so many world-famous writers I felt very humble.
3.
low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc.; lowly: of humble origin; a humble home.
4.
courteously respectful: In my humble opinion you are wrong.
5.
low in height, level, etc.; small in size: a humble member of the galaxy.


I am not a proud or arrogant woman. I am a humble woman who wants to please my God and help others. That is how I live my life.




Friday, April 11, 2014

The God-First Life

I don't normally do book reviews. I'm making an exception for a book that is literally life changing. It's titled "The God-First Life" by Stovall Weems. If you're looking for a way to uncomplicated your life and live God's way, this is the book for you. I'm going to share it with all my brothers and sisters in Christ and with anyone and everyone I can talk to about this book. It literally changed my life.

I was having a serious panic and anxiety attack yesterday. My mind raced for something to distract myself so that I could calm down. I reached for the book that arrived in the mail that morning. I started reading and then stopped so I could hunt down a highlighter. There was too much already that I wanted to highlight and focus on. I settled in and started reading in earnest. The words captivated me. The writing style was comfortable and friendly. A quarter of the way into the book and my panic attack and anxiety was gone. I was so absorbed in the book I'd forgotten all about being anxious.

The book comes with a study guide and also a DVD with six sessions led by Stovall Weems, himself. I'm going to be getting them and sharing them with everyone I know at church. There is also a website www.godfirstlifenetwork.com but it won't be ready until July, 2014. I know I'll be one of the first to visit the site as soon as it opens. It will have more information, free resources, coaching, and more.

The book is based on scripture from Matthew 6:33 "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Put God first and everything else will take care of itself. God will see to it.

When Pastor Weems thought about this scripture and how it affected his life, he realized that it had three life-altering points:

1. God as a "way" for our lives. God has designed a path, a way for your life that is designed specifically for you.

2. We don't have to carry the weight of our life alone. Jesus invites you to keep step with him while he does the heavy lifting.

3. God's way is better than ours. The Bible says that God's way is perfect, refreshing, trustworthy, right, and enlightening.

Doesn't that sound exactly what you're looking for?

God's way for your life is the best possible way you can live.

I know it.

Do you know it?




P.S. I'll definitely do more blogs about this book. It just begs for more posts on God's way.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Perseverance, my take on Making it through Life

I am truly a persistent woman. I think having OCD can do that to a person. I'm like a dog with a bone when it comes to some things I have on my mind and how I want to live my life.

David Sarnoff said, "The will to persevere is often the difference between failure and success."

That makes sense to me. I have failed at many things in my life, but I've learned lessons from each failure, least of which is to not do something that way again. I am rarely knocked down for good. I get back up and I'm back in the thick of the action, trying to follow my dream or help someone else follow theirs.

"Persist and persevere, and you will find most things that are attainable, possible." Isn't that a great quote by Lord Chesterfield?

That's how I make my way through life. I'm persistent. I don't think things are impossible. That word rarely enters my vocabulary.

I wanted to join the US Marine Corps when I was in high school, so as soon as I graduated, I headed off to boot camp. If you ask my father, he'd say I'd been more bull-headed and stubborn, than persistent, but it doesn't matter. I had a goal and I attained it.

I wanted to write for a living. I didn't let anything deter me from that goal either. I started out as a technical writer so I could provide for my family but when the time came, I moved to writing fiction full time and haven't turned back. I wrote twelve novels and novellas that were published. I was very persistent. I didn't take no for an answer. I found a publisher who was willing to work with me and together we got some great books on the market.

Life has thrown a few obstacles in my way. But, to me, they were just challenges to be overcome. Chronic illnesses, mental illness, pain. It didn't matter. I didn't let any of them obscure my vision of how I wanted to make it through life. Successfully and Faithfully.

Be persistent. Persevere. Don't ever give up. "There was a widow who kept going to the judge and saying, "Make sure that I get fair treatment in court." For a while the judge refused to do anything. Finally, he said to himself,"Even though I don't fear God or care about people, I will help this widow because she keeps on bothering me. If I don't help her, she will wear me out." Luke 18:3-5

I live my life with the purpose that God has prepared for me. He wants me to help others overcome traumas in their lives. I can do that. I have the way to help these people. I know it works, because I've been using the technique my entire life. I will not give up. I will bring this technique to fruition. It's my purpose in life.

I live my life with perseverance and faith. How do you live yours?






Image credit: photoman / 123RF Stock Photo

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Surprising Things that Increase Anxiety

We all feel anxious at one time or another. A big test in school. A meeting with the boss. A confrontation with your spouse. Any and all of those things can make a person feel anxious.

There are those people that go beyond "natural" anxiety and actually have an anxiety disorder. I'm one of those people. I have a Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder. I also have OCD, Panic Disorder, and PTSD. Those are also anxiety disorders.

What are they, you ask?

Well, let's consult WebMD or Wikipedia, if you would prefer.

Anxiety is an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behavior, such as pacing back and forth, somatic complaints and rumination.[2] It is the subjectively unpleasant feelings of dread over something unlikely to happen, such as the feeling of imminent death.[3] Anxiety is not the same asfear, which is felt about something realistically intimidating or dangerous and is an appropriate response to a perceived threat;[4] anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry, and uneasiness, usually generalized and unfocused as an overreaction to a situation that is only subjectively seen as menacing.[5] It is often accompanied by restlessness, fatigue, problems in concentration, and muscular tension. Anxiety is not considered to be a normal reaction to a perceived stressor although many feel it occasionally.

What Are the Types of Anxiety Disorders?
There are several recognized types of anxiety disorders, including:
  • Panic disorder: People with this condition have feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly with no warning. Other symptoms of a panic attackinclude sweating, chest pain, palpitations (unusually strong or irregular heartbeats), and a feeling of choking, which may make the person feel like he or she is having a heart attack or "going crazy."
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): People with OCD are plagued by constant thoughts or fears that cause them to perform certain rituals or routines. The disturbing thoughts are called obsessions, and the rituals are called compulsions. An example is a person with an unreasonable fear of germs who constantly washes his or her hands.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)PTSD is a condition that can develop following a traumatic and/or terrifying event, such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, or a natural disaster. People with PTSD often have lasting and frightening thoughts and memories of the event and tend to be emotionally numb.
  • Social anxiety disorder: Also called social phobia, social anxiety disorder involves overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations. The worry often centers on a fear of being judged by others, or behaving in a way that might cause embarrassment or lead to ridicule.
  • Specific phobias: A specific phobia is an intense fear of a specific object or situation, such as snakes, heights, or flying. The level of fear is usually inappropriate to the situation and may cause the person to avoid common, everyday situations.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder: This disorder involves excessive, unrealistic worry and tension, even if there is little or nothing to provoke the anxiety.
Do you recognize any of these in you or someone you know?

What about symptoms?


Symptoms vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder, but general symptoms include:
  • Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
  • Uncontrollable, obsessive thoughts
  • Repeated thoughts or flashbacks of traumatic experiences
  • Nightmares
  • Ritualistic behaviors, such as repeated hand washing
  • Problems sleeping
  • Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations
  • An inability to be still and calm
  • Dry mouth
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Dizziness

Do you know that not just social situations can cause anxiety? iVillage has come up with a list of very surprising ways that cause anxiety triggers in a person. Most are controllable. Let's see them in detail.

Food additives: Aspartame, food coloring, dyes 
Many people report mood swings and anxiety after ingesting man-made sweeteners, like aspartame and high fructose corn syrup, food dyes (including Red #40 and Yellow #5) and flavorings like MSG. Direct links between artificial food additives and mood are still under investigation though they've been implicated as a cause of ADHD and autism in children. The fact is that dyes and artificial sweeteners are neurotoxins that can disrupt normal nervous system function, leading to increased symptoms of anxiety.

Over the counter drugs and supplements 
Medicines that contain caffeine, including several headache and migraine relievers, some cough medicines, decongestants, asthma medications and weight-loss supplements that includes stimulants, can lead to increased heart rates and a spike in feelings of anxiety. Popular herbal remedies and supplements like St. John's Wort, ginseng and kava kava may also cause or increase unease.

Food sensitivities 
Symptoms of food sensitivity can range from digestive issues like stomach pain to difficulty breathing. While both of these problems can cause anxiety, there's also increasing evidence that food sensitivities affect mood directly as well. Gluten, soy, dairy -- even chocolate -- can impact hormones lelvels and other key chemicals in the brain, upsetting the delicate balance needed to keep the body and mind in control of anxiousness.

Skipping meals 
In our harried, stressful world, skipping a meal here and there is all too common. What's more, many people who are anxious and stressed may feel they have no appetite or simply lack the desire to eat. But for most people used to regular meals, skipping meals causes a drop in the body's blood sugar levels. If prolonged, this drop may lead to increased feelings of anxiety and irritability. Other anxiety-provoking effects of low blood sugar are dizziness, light-headedness, confusion and weakness.

Dehydration
A 2009 study at Tufts University found a clear link between hydration and mood. The study found that student athletes who were just mildly dehydrated reported feeling angry, confused, tense and fatigued. Staying hydrated is essential to keeping the body's physiological functions running smoothly, including speeding the healing process and removing toxins. Drinking enough water daily may be one of the easiest ways to help the body control its nerves.

Caffeine 
Millions of people rely on a regular caffeine fix to jump start their day or to perk up when their energy nosedives. But too much is no good. "Caffeine-induced anxiety disorder" is actually a recognized condition found in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the "bible" used by mental health experts throughout the United States. As most people are aware, too much caffeine can cause a racing heartbeat, which can trigger a panic attack. And while a little caffeine can improve one's ability to focus, too much may increase nervousness and a host of anxiety symptoms, like sweating palms, ringing in the ears, even feelings of impending doom.

Cigarettes, drugs and alcohol 
Relying on smoking, drinking or using drugs to feel calmer can backfire. Nicotine is a stimulant that studies have shown can raise blood pressure and heart rate. In addition, the carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke also may cause breathing problems that the body responds to as if it's suffocating, increasing the likelihood of panic attacks. As for alcohol and drugs, people suffering from an anxiety disorder are two to three times more likely to abuse these than the general population, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Both alcohol and drugs can lead to panic attacks and their disruptive effect on the central nervous system limits the brain's ability to calm the mind and body.

Nutrient deficiencies 
Make sure you eat your vitamins! B complex, C and E vitamins play important roles in nervous system function, and B vitamins particularly affect mood and metabolism. Magnesium is known to help relieve stress, thus a deficiency in this mineral may lead to irritability and apathy. Selenium, an antioxidant essential to the efficient function of neurotransmitters in the brain, helps control mood. And according to a 2006 study, people with lower levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids were also at increased risk of anxiety.

Age 
As we age, we face multiple stresses that can bring on bouts of anxiety. Life events such as health changes, memory problems, the death of a spouse or even a seemingly happy change like retirement, can all be stress-provoking. The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation estimates that 10-to-20 percent of older adults suffer from anxiety, although many go untreated because they may not recognize the symptoms.

Negative thinking 
Many therapists stress that persistent negative thinking really does have a harmful effect on our emotional well-being. Ever hear of automatic negative thoughts (or ANT’s)? These are quick, unconscious, off-the-cuff criticisms that the mind churns out when faced with stressful situations. "Why did I do that?" "Why am I so dumb?" and other negative self-criticisms wreak havoc on your emotional state. The good news is that a therapist can help you identify these ANT’s and reduce the power they have on your psyche.

Unconscious cues
A song, smell or location can be unconsciously linked to a bad feeling or memory, which can be problematic. This is perhaps most common in cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (where, for example, a soldier hearing a loud bang may associate the sound with gunfire and thus become anxious), but it can occur in other types of anxiety as well. Identifying anxiety-provoking unconscious cues on your own can be difficult. However, with the help of a therapist it's possible to untangle this complicated process and put negative thoughts in their place.
To help control your anxiety or identify the triggers, you can go to this guide for more information. There are many things you can do to help yourself ease your anxiety or identify it and avoid it altogether.

Here are 11 Tips to Help Manage Anxiety at PsychCentral.

From Anxiety and Depression Association of America are tips to manage stress and anxiety.

For me, distraction is my biggest trick to help me alleviate stress or anxiety. I find something to occupy my mind that will push the anxiety away. One way to distract myself is to read God's word.

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

What do you do to help alleviate your anxiety?



Sunday, March 30, 2014

World Bipolar Day

World Bipolar Day (WBD) will be celebrating its inaugural year on March 30th, the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh, who was posthumously diagnosed as probably having bipolar disorder.  The vision of WBD is to bring world awareness to bipolar disorders and eliminate social stigma. Through international collaboration the goal of World Bipolar Day is to bring the world population information about bipolar disorders that will educate and improve sensitivity towards the illness. 
Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness that represents a significant challenge to patients, health care workers, family members and our communities.  While growing acceptance of bipolar disorder as a medical condition, like diabetes and heart disease, has taken hold in some parts of the world, unfortunately the stigma associated with the illness is a barrier to care and continues to impede early diagnosis and effective treatment.  In order to address the disparity in how bipolar disorder is viewed in different parts of the world, the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder (ANBD),the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF), and the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) came together to work on the concept of a world bipolar day.

To get involved use the following documents:



(also available in Portuguese, SpanishThai)
Click here to view a worldwide map of advocacy groups

 Willem Nolen, current President of the ISBD, shares his enthusiasm about this initiative 
“When the ANBD, who came up with the idea, approached the ISBD we immediately decided that we should support it actively.  The initiative helps to achieve our goals to improve the lives of bipolar patients and their relatives.  We immediately invited the IBPF to join in the initiative and are excited to work with such a great group of organizations.  I am confident that World Bipolar Day will grow in the upcoming years and will help reduce stigma.”  
Muffy Walker, Founder and President of IBPF, said the following when asked why she felt it important to be involved with WBD, 
“As Martin Luther King once said, I have a dream that one day our nations will rise up and create all men equal. And I have a dream that my son, who has lived most of his life with bipolar disorder, will one day live in a nation where he will not be judged by his illness, but rather by the content of his character. I believe that World Bipolar Day will help bring my dream to fruition.”  
Manuel Sanchez de Carmona, ISBD President-Elect, believes that 
“WBD is an excellent opportunity for us [ISBD members] to reach out to patients, families and advocacy groups to invite them to work together on this global project to sensitize and bring awareness to bipolar disorders.  WBD is a platform to think global and act local – our vision will be attained with a motivated and strong local effort.”  
It is estimated that the global prevalence of bipolar disorder is between 1 and 2% and has been said to be as high as 5% and, according to the World Health Organization, is the 6thleading cause of disability in the world.  In order to address this global problem, we need a global solution.  With support from leading experts from around the world, groups like ANBD, IBPF, and ISBD are supporting efforts to investigate biological causes, targets for drug treatment, better treatments, better methods of diagnosis, the genetic components of the illness, and strategies for living well with bipolar disorder and this is just the beginning. Collaborations between research and advocacy groups are continuing to grow, and WBD is a tribute to the success of this strategy.  
Christine Saenz, a patient and blogger, explains,  
“I am so excited about this project and its message.  It is so important to educate the world and fight the stigma that is associated with mental illness.  Bipolar does not have to be scary. I am the face of Bipolar.  I am just like everyone else. With the right treatment plan, I am able to live a stable and happy life.” 
As the day draws near we encourage you to organize and publicize local events, which can be shared with the world through distribution on the WBD Facebook page (www.facebook.com/worldbipolarday).   The WBD page will host press releases for these events, as well as provide a place to post photos, stories and share inspiration with others who share the vision of WBD.  


For more information about WBD, or for any questions, comments, or event announcements, please contact Jill Olds at jillo@isbd.org