GOAL- To understand that we are not alone, our triggers, our treatments and the support that is available for us. By: Bobbi Reed
We usually think that we are the only one struggling with anxiety, depression and stress. You would be surprised to find out many more people are dealing with these in their own lives. As technology becomes more developed and as we talk more about these things, we will continue to see that MANY struggle. As we learn this and more about treatment for these struggles, we will discuss them more. We need to realize that having these struggles in your life is many times the NORM.
Stress is prevalent in everyone’s life. There is good stress called Eustress. This is stress that can motivate us, challenge us, and make us better people. The stress that we all focus on is the bad stress. We are all familiar with it. In our busy lives, that seem to get busier and busier, there are lots of bad stresses. If we are people that are prone to worry more than others, or over analyze things, we are definitely going to be highly stressed.
Being in the world today, it is highly stressful. Then you add in the fact that you are a single mom, and it gets even crazier. Many of us single moms do not have good co-parents, or family around to help us. Many of our co-parents cause even more stress in our lives. So, with all this a given in our lives, how can we manage it all, while maintaining a positive environment for our children?
We have to first look at the thoughts that are in our minds. We think that our thoughts can be kept secret in our minds. They cannot and they are very powerful. Thoughts produce results and many times we have heard that what we think inside in our minds, we become. Our thoughts can make us ill or help us to heal. They direct what things we focus on which makes a huge difference in our lives.
We all have good and bad journeys through life. If we are a Christian and have a relationship with the Lord, then Jesus is in us. We can rely on Him to help us through our thoughts and journeys, if we focus on being positive and using His Word to help us. Many times we cannot control the thoughts that we have but we can control our actions. We need to realize that we can most of the time, so therefore we can limit the amount of stress in our lives.
For example, if we do not put so much into our schedules, we won’t always feel rushed. We have discussed time management which is very important. We should not fill every second of every day with things that have to be done. Make sure there are times for “pauses” and breaks. We all need time to be still and recharge. If we do this, and make good priorities for our time, we should not feel so stressed. It is impossible to feel no stress, but it can be managed. If we are spending down-time with our friends and children, the harder times will be balanced by calmer and fun times.
I want to address depression. Many times depression is from a chemical imbalance. It is not someone just choosing to be depressed or to be anxious. Postpartum depression is quite common and is mostly caused by hormone imbalances after the birth of a child. It is very hard to deal with because the mom feels as if it is her fault and does not realize it is not. It affects her all day, every day for quite some time and can interfere with raising her baby and how she feels about the baby. It is important to seek help from your doctor, get tested and take the appropriate medicines. Along with medicines, it is very important to seek counseling.
When you are anxious or depressed, it is a struggle to understand why this is happening and why it is happening to you. As you analyze your steps, you will see that some of it has to do with your thoughts. We all have much to learn about the power of thoughts as we just discussed. You thoughts can transform your life. The Bible makes this concept of the power of our thoughts plain and simple. As we think on the inside, we become on the outside. So our character becomes a sum of our thoughts. A thought is a seed: which grows into an action and an emotion. If you are in emotional turmoil, then you need to analyze your thoughts, your way of thinking can be off center and negative, harmful thoughts are influencing your life.
Again, when we find ourselves often depressed or anxious, then the first thing to do is see your doctor. As mentioned, many times it is a chemical imbalance. Your brain could be making too much or not enough of a certain chemical. Many times it is a hormonal imbalance, so it is important to have tests, especially for women to test their thyroid. If chemical imbalances are found, then they can be treated with medications. There are many medications out there that can treat depression and anxiety. It takes some time for you and your doctor to work together to find just the right ones and possibly a mix of a few together. Be patient during this time. It can be very stressful, but keep in mind what you are working towards and give it the time it needs.
Obviously, if you are suffering with extreme stress, anxiety and or depression, you should seek counseling. It may take a few counseling appointments to find a good fit for you. It should be very individualized and in time you should see some progress. Be patient until you find the right one. Make sure you go on a regular basis; going occasionally will not produce much progress. Remember, what you put into each session will usually dictate what you get out of it. If your counselor gives you things to do between visits, make sure you do them and put a lot of thought into those assignments. These assignments can help you think through many things and be extremely helpful.
Once it is identified whether your depression and anxiety are chemical imbalance, get treated. Even while being treated with medications and therapy, we will have to remember that there are many times that we can choose our thoughts. It can be hard, but once you make up your mind you are going to put a lot of effort in controlling your thoughts, you will see a difference. Read the Word often, pray and talk about what is going on with some people in your inner circle that you can trust. In time, things will begin to improve. It will not happen overnight, so make sure you have someone that you are accountable to and checking in with on a regular basis. Don’t ever give up, no matter how hard it gets. Keep leaning on your close friends, family and your therapist.
I would like to suggest an exercise. For several days in a row, journal what the majority of your thoughts have been for that particular day. You may see a pattern and find out that most of your thoughts are about the very source of the problems in your life. In other words, our lives are what our thoughts make it. What are the majority of your thoughts in a day? Are you focused on worrying? I know as a single mom with four children, I focused a lot on finances. I was constantly worried about how I was going to pay the bills. This was back before I finally learned who my source truly is and gave that worry over to the Lord.
If for instance, you are trying to live a healthier life for you and your children, what are you thinking about? Do you have joy, enthusiasm, optimism, goodwill, healthy eating habits in your life? Are you always looking for ways to have some fun with your children, while appreciating the wonderful things in this world? Are you focused on all negative things and letting those rule your thoughts? How is your relationship with the Lord? Are you seeking Him for wisdom, understanding, discernment and solutions to your challenges in your life or are you trying to fix and manage all things on your own? If you are trying to do it on your own, you will be constantly stressed and full of negativity. You will not be positive and grateful in all things, so many of your thoughts will be negative and defeating.
The closer your relationship is with the Lord and the more you read your Word, you will become more positive. You will realize that you are not to lean on your own understanding and fixing of your problems. Turn them over to the Lord, think on good things and continually pray. Pray for wisdom and discernment along with patience to wait on the Lord for solutions. Be still and listen to Him during your prayers so that you can hear Him speak to you.
Many of our diseases are psychosomatic. That means that the origins of these diseases are not found in physical causes but occur in the mind. I am not saying that they are not real. As we have discussed, as a person thinks negatively, these thoughts can manifest into the body. Thoughts have the ability to make us well or more sick. Negative thoughts have been proven to weaken the immune system. Different chemical secretions can be released into the body from the brain which are based on a person’s thoughts; good or bad.
If we are not careful, we will develop negatively toward things in our lives without realizing that these thoughts do not affect those things, except how we view them. God wants us to be free in our thoughts so that we are free in our lives. True freedom is found when we allow God to control our lives instead of ourselves. We cannot handle things as well as God can. I learned that the hard way. I thought I was in control and was constantly trying to control different areas of my life. I quickly found out that I easily made a mess of things and that God could do so much better than I could.
It is important to understand that people, events and circumstances are not in control of you. We give them too much importance and let them control our thoughts. When we learn this, it will free us from hatred, aggravation, ill thoughts, grief, sorrow and pain. These thoughts will destroy your emotions constantly keeping you in turmoil. This will in turn affect your physical body. We all know how many diseases can come of being stressed all the time.
Just as our thoughts can make us sick, they can heal us. Do we believe that we can be healed? What does the Bible say about healing? Do we constantly talk about and think about how sick we are or that we are in pain? There is growing documentation that imagery can be beneficial in treating many diseases. It makes sense that if we believe that we can be healed, and don’t constantly focus on our illness, that we can get better. Pray daily and have faith that you can be healed. Focus on positive things, and what is good in your life, not on what is bad. Spend more time thinking and being grateful for what you have instead of what you don’t have. I know this can be difficult, but if you choose each morning how you will handle your thoughts and negative circumstances, it will make a huge difference.
In summary, many things in our lives are affected by our thoughts. What we focus on and how we believe things will be can help or hinder us. When it comes to depression, get tested to see if there are chemical imbalances, seek therapy so that you can keep control over your thoughts, having faith that things will improve. Continue to pray and believe that God wants the best for you and He will give it to you in His perfect timing. Don’t lean on your own understanding and do not try to control your life. Guaranteed you will mess it up; let God control it instead.
We don’t know the future or God’s plan for our lives, so how can we make wise decisions without this knowledge? Get the help that you need from your doctor and counselor. Talk with others to realize that many are walking the same path as you are. Don’t be silent about your struggles. Share and listen to others because you will realize many are walking this same circumstances. Try to take your thoughts captive, and do not allow yourself to think negative thoughts all the time. Focus and be grateful for what you have in your life instead of what you believe is missing. Be thankful because there are always many more people worse off than you. Be there for your friends and family and know that you are not alone. Make great use of the resources that are available in your community. Overall, remain positive and know that there is going to be work to do, but with the Lord you are free.
- What do you think about most of your day?
- Are you constantly stressed?
- Do you have too much on your schedule?
- Do you have times during your day that you rest mentally and take pauses?
- What do you talk about mostly during the day?
- Are you focusing on mostly negative things or positive things?
- Are you grateful for the positive things you have in your life or are you more focused on the things you want and don’t have?
- If you suffer from anxiety or depression, have you seen your doctor and been tested?
- Are you isolating yourself from others, instead of taking a few close people into your confidence?
- Are you seeking counseling? Are you going on a regular basis?
- Are you constantly stressed and trying to get control of your day?
- What are your priorities for your thoughts, actions and life?
- Write down for a few days in a row what are your predominated thoughts each day. Analyze if they are positive or negative.
- If you have not been tested and are suffering from depression, seek your doctors help. Do some testing to see if there are any chemical imbalances or thyroid issues.
- If you are constantly stressed in a negative way, make sure you are taking mental breaks during the day to pause. Make sure you are doing positive things for yourself and your children on a regular basis.
- Pray constantly for healing and direction for your life from the Lord. He truly is your provider and in control. Let go of your control wherever it is in your life.
- Stay positive and constantly choose to control your thoughts. Your thoughts will dictate which way your life will go. Control what you are able to control and let go of those things that you cannot control.
2 Timothy 1:7-8