You have prepared for the holidays for months it seems, but are you prepared for the end of the holidays? With its parties, presents, and traditions, this season gets all the focus and is accompanied by happy, excited emotions. But as holiday decorations get put away and all returns to normal, it seems that life is all work and a sense of loneliness creeps in. How can you hold on to joy and the feeling of expectation without ending up feeling the letdown of drudgery and isolation?Continue Reading
A guest post written by Tracy Clifton from Glendale, California
People talk about health a lot these days – and it’s not just physical health that’s being discussed. We’re realizing that mental health is just as important, and that our level of happiness and how we handle stress contribute to how we’re feeling physically.Continue Reading
A guest post written by Melissa Clendenen from Newport Beach, California
Scientific studies have shown the impact of our thinking on health and wellbeing. Shift recently published, “How Your State of Mind is Affecting Your Well-Being,” and states: “If you have an optimistic state of mind you have a better ability to become accomplished in life, are better able to cope with stress, and can take on life challenges more resilientlyContinue Reading
A guest post written by Marsha Cunningham from Ontario, California
Recently I started feeling very depressed and lonely and I just couldn’t seem to shake the horrible feeling. I didn’t feel like doing anything and I’ve always been a very active, happy person. I wondered if this was what depression felt like, and suddenly understood what I’d heard much talk about.Continue Reading
by Don Ingwerson
I wanted to share with you a short video from a series called Lives Lived. This one features Sarah, who struggled with depression and grief after her mother passed away. Find out how she was able to get past this through prayer.
Featured photo © GLOW IMAGES
Have you ever had a “black hole” experience, one where things were all going in a negative direction with no hope of getting better? My colleague Beverly Goldsmith of Australia writes of a friend’s journey out of depressing thoughts and a determination to get mentally free, an effort that improved her health. Beverly includes helpful tips that we can all adopt, if we find ourselves in a similar situation.
“I once went down into the black hole of depression”, a close friend revealed to me recently. “I was scared of everything, always negative, and had no appetite for food or life. I’m determined to never go there again.” That clear determination has never wavered. She pulled herself out of those dark feelings and showed that to be determined is good for your health.
What prompted my friend to escape from the clutches of depression? It was the moment when she realized that her unhappy mental state was worrying her children. “Right then”, she said “I knew I had to work harder.” So she decided to get out of the ever-deepening abyss of black thinking by being proactive – being determined to explore every avenue aimed at achieving mental and emotional freedom.
Listen to positive messages. Be encouraged.
In speaking of her journey out of the “pit of gloom”, my friend recalled one of her more unusual approaches to achieving good mental health. “I used to watch an American preacher on afternoon TV. She spoke about taking responsibility for your own emotions and to focus on pampering yourself into being healthy again – not to rely on medication to do it all for you. She helped me a lot because I could relate to her words of encouragement.”
● Listen to words of encouragement. Be heartened by them.
● Replace negative thoughts with positive, healthy ones.
● Don’t ruminate, reiterate or speculate over dark thoughts, or wonder where they come from.
● Cultivate happiness and health by celebrating the little victories in life.
● Follow Dr Susan Weinschenk’s advice and “take time to notice the things that go right” – a smile from a stranger, an unexpected thank you. Doing this, “means we’re getting a lot of little rewards throughout the day. That can help with our moods.”
Break open the gloom. Persevere.
Often dark thinking can appear to be as solid as a rock. Despite one’s best efforts it can seemingly remain unbreakable. Yet constant blows of optimistic, positive, and yes, even spiritual thinking, can crack apart those negative feelings. It just takes determined perseverance
There’s a story of a man who wanted to break up a large rock in his garden. Although he struck it 100 times with a sledge hammer, the rock remained intact. Finally, he gave up in frustration. A neighbour who’d been watching him asked if he could have a go. He hit the rock. Instantly it fell apart. “How come I couldn’t crack it open?” the man cried. “Well”, replied the neighbour, “actually you did all the hard work. If you’d just persevered and given it one last blow, you’d have cracked it open yourself.”
● Persevere. Remain determined to succeed.
● Enact the proverb, “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.”
● Don’t be defeatist. Keep going. Stay mentally active.
● Keep your mental eye on the high goal. Don’t count your footsteps in getting there. *
Be tortoise-like. Succeed
Sometimes slow progress can lead to discouragement. This can emotionally hamper one’s efforts to overcome despondency. However, not feeling fast enough on one’s mental feet, doesn’t mean failure. It’s possible to take up the challenge and beat the blues.
One of Aesop’s famous fables illustrates this point. A slow moving tortoise who was continually teased by a fast-running hare, challenged him to a race. The hare, who was sure he’d win, took a nap, stopped for breakfast, then fell asleep. He woke up just in time to see the tortoise cross the finish line ahead of him.
The encouraging message of this story could be this: a slow but steady-as-you-go mental action, wins the day. It’s successful. This highlights the prize-winning combination of steadfast determination and calm persistence.
● Be a winner over dejection. Be determined.
● Be firm, unwavering in your resolve to win the prize of good mental health and happiness.
● Be one of those individuals who either, “gain good rapidly and hold their position, or attain slowly and yield not to discouragement.” (Science and Health p. 254, Mary Baker Eddy)
● Believe that through determined, hope-filled thinking, you will emerge triumphant.
* A paraphrase from Mary Baker Eddy in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “The discoverer of Christian Science finds the path less difficult when she has the high goal always before her thoughts, than when she counts her footsteps in endeavoring to reach it.”
by Don Ingwerson
You have prepared for the holidays for months it seems, but are you prepared for the end of the holidays? With its parties, presents, and traditions, this season gets all the focus and is accompanied by happy, excited emotions. But as holiday decorations get put away and all returns to normal, it seems that life is all work and a sense of loneliness creeps in. How can you hold on to joy and the feeling of expectation without ending up feeling the letdown of drudgery and isolation?
That’s a good question, and Dr. Mason Turner, Director for Mental Health Services for the Permanente Group in Northern California, takes on the challenge of keeping depression at bay by listing six mood-boosting tips that promote a positive, balanced holiday season. The best part – his tips are all within the individual’s control and not dependent upon someone (or something) else. His tips: remember a pleasant event, find something to laugh about, share with a pet, spend time doing something you enjoy, express kindness, and volunteer to help someone.
These simple tips are health giving because they bring about thoughts of happiness, they cultivate a stress-free environment, and they allow for a focus away from self. Depression and moodiness can be kept at bay when a person really spends time focusing on any of these spiritual qualities. This is especially important because the World Health Organization reports that depression is the leading cause of disability in the world and “a major contributor to the global burden of disease.”
We’ve probably all heard the song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” But the pressure to ensure that it is actually the most wonderful time of the year can be pretty stressful. Dr. Andrew Weil, in his book, Spontaneous Happiness, explains that, “…our culture today…tells us that the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, when we should all be constantly happy. Bombarded with this message…we have developed impossible expectations. The discordance between our expectations of happiness and the emotional realities of the holidays is a major reason for the high incidence of depression at this time of year.”
But when we stop to help others, find moments of peace, and look for ways to express gratitude, we find balance – during the holiday season and all year. Expressing these qualities of love, both for self and for others, tends to de-stress, keeps depression away, and leads to health. Writers have expressed these ideas throughout the centuries and many feel that these spiritual qualities come from the Divine. This Bible statement from Proverbs shows what happens when divine aspects in thought are cultivated in life: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Mary Baker Eddy, who spent much of her adult life working to understand the connection between the Divine and health, also discussed the power of maintaining a spiritual outlook in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Whatever guides thought spiritually benefits mind and body.”
The holidays don’t have to be boom or bust, an incredible high and a profound low. Make a point of surrounding yourself with the glow of love – a glow that is sustained expressing divine qualities inherent in us all and promote health.
In the latest vlog from The Mother Church, Eric Bashor shares information from a Guardian article on mental health – doctors in the UK can encourage a drug-free, thought-based approach to addressing depression by prescribing reading a self-help book.
Featured photo © GLOW IMAGES. Model used for illustrative purposes.
A guest post written by Katie S. Brown, a Christian Science practitioner and teacher and the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in Indiana.
One good New Year’s resolution for all of us might be to do whatever we can to prevent tragedies such as happened just before Christmas in Newtown, Connecticut by reaching out to troubled individuals.
According to ABC Good Morning America, Adam Lanza “suffered from a condition where he could literally feel no pain…” He was “not connected with the other kids…and was obviously not well.”
Lanza was not alone in his suffering. According to the Archives of General Psychiatry “an estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.”
Depression is a form of mental illness that may lead to suicide. That is in an area we can help by being alert to the warning signs of suicide: significant mood swings or changes in diet or sleep patterns; talking about wanting to hurt themselves, and increased substance use. If we notice these in a friend, colleague or neighbor, we can start by reaching out with love. This might create an opportunity to connect them to supportive services and give them opportunities to strengthen their connections with people – a key deterrent to suicide. One additional important resource is places of worship where people gather for fellowship and prayer.
Evidence of the positive role prayer and spirituality can play in improving both physical and mental health is on the rise. Both are important, of course, because long-term pain or other physical distress can also lead to depression and mental stress. Add one of these to winter blues, loneliness or family pressures and the result can be overwhelming for some.
Examples of success with prayer in physical healing can be found in Healing Words by Larry Dossey, M.D.,and according to American Psychologist , “There is now a substantial literature that connects religion and spirituality to physical health…Koenig, McCullough, & Larson, 2001…and mental health (Larson et al., 1998; Plante & Sherman, 2001).”
Harold Koenig, M.D. in his Research on Religion, Spirituality, and Mental Health: A Review states “Religious and spiritual factors are increasingly being examined in psychiatric research. …Many people suffering from the pain of mental illness, emotional problems, or situational difficulties seek refuge in religion for comfort, hope, and meaning. …religious involvement is related to better coping with stress and less depression, suicide, anxiety, and substance abuse.”
Key to religiosity playing a positive role in mental health is a view of God as close, loving and forgiving not judging and condemning. A God of compassion adds strength to those praying for the release from the fear and suffering that come with depression. The Bible tells us, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee… (Isaiah 41:10).”
Several years ago a college student, deeply depressed and feeling suicidal, called me to pray for and with her to lift her sense of sadness and isolation from others. I went to see her often and spent time with her, including going to church together. She began to feel happier, made new friends, and resumed her studies. To see the change in her made that winter one of my best!
The beginning of 2013 is an opportunity to give our love to others. Consider how much difference each of us, loving and helping someone who is suffering from depression, will add to the joy of the New Year!