Monday, July 13, 2009


One of the things we really need in order to be healthy is a support system. We need family, friends, or co-workers around us. People we know we can depend upon in tough times. We need community!

It is important for each of us to build those relationships that help us to know we are not alone in this world. We need people that we can talk to about those things that concern us. People that will listen and give encouragement or good counsel.

Not all of our support has to be close relationships. The support we get can be on different levels. Think of concentric circles.

You are in the center. The small circle immediately around you are your closest support people. Those that you can share very openly with, and those you can count on for support and love, no matter what. They know you at the deepest level. You trust them completely. You probably need at least three or four people in that circle.

The people in the next circle out are still close to you, but maybe less close. You can talk to them, but may not tell everything. You may keep certain situations or parts of situations out of your conversations with them. You trust these people, but not completely. This doesn't mean that they aren't trustworthy, it is just that the relationship may not have developed to that level. You may talk to them about MOST things, but not everything. You probably need at least six to eight people in that circle.

The last circle (in our example, because you can have as many circles as you want) are those people who you know care about you and they are there for you as much as they can be. You probably don't share the intimate details of your life with them, but can share the more "public" things (death in family, divorce, loss of job, etc.) and know they will care and help you in practical ways. In this circle you probably need ten to twelve people.

We all need a minimum of twenty people (at the various levels) in our lives in order to be healthy. Work at developing those relationships one step at a time.

Don't rush into "spilling your guts" to people. Let them earn your trust by opening up a little at a time, and seeing how they handle it. (Do they gossip? Do they lecture you? Do they make you feel guilty?)

If you begin to work on developing relationships today, then later on when we hit a difficult part of our life's journey, we will have those relationships developed and will weather the problem much better!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Stressful Times

We all have stress in our lives. Stress is a part of life, and it is a useful thing that motivates us to change or to move or to work. However, if it gets out of control we can begin to feel overwhelmed and hopeless.

I am noticing the stress people are under for the past many months. With the economic issues our nation is facing comes a feeling of uncertainty among our people. Job losses, foreclosures, bankruptcies, furloughs, and major corporations going under all cause people to feel anxious in ways that they may not have felt before. "What will happen next?" is a common question we hear on a regular basis.

This is a stress that, for the most part, we can do nothing to alleviate. So what is called for in order to deal with it is to learn to manage the stress. One of the main things we can do to manage this kind of stress is make sure we are not "running on empty."

For the Christian, our starting place is in our relationship with God. We need to seriously rely on God's promises to take care of us and to be with us in difficult times.

Philippians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."

Hebrews 13:5 "God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'."

We also know that we have access to God's wisdom as we face the uncertainties and decisions in our lives.

James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."

From a practical perspective, in times like these we need to replenish our strength and energy on a regular basis.

Make sure you are eating a healthy diet full of the nutrients your body requires to function properly.

Get enough rest. If you're not sleeping, you are not replenishing yourself at night. You will not have the mental, emotional, and physical resources to deal with life each day. Take steps necessary to get the sleep you need.

Allow time to play on a regular basis. Recreation or pleasurable activities are one of the biggest antidotes for stress. Do things that fill you up and get your mind off of your problems. Anything that you enjoy as recreation may be a big stress reliever for you, so find out what it is that fills you up emotionally.

Make sure you get some form of exercise on a regular basis. There is a strong link between exercise and endorphins, the natural substance that the body produces that gives us a sense of well-being. People who work out or run talk about the euphoria or "high" they feel afterwards. That is because of the release of endorphins as a response to the exercise.

Train your thinking to be more positive and less anxious. Stress is enhanced by worry and worry is enhanced by negative thoughts. If you think in a negative way, it will increase your stress and may lead to depression or anxiety.

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

Stress is part of life. You cannot eliminate it completely, but you can manage it and not let it become overwhelming. Make some changes in your life to deal with it, and you will find that you will feel better and will weather difficult times better.