Pastor Brad Hoefs

Pastor | Author | Speaker | Hope Coach | Mental Health Advocate

“Why We Offer a Christian Mental Health Group at Our Church” By Dale Rose

“Why We Offer a Christian Mental Health Group at Our Church” By Dale Rose

By: Pastor Dale Rose

Mental health issues and how to deal with them came ‘out of the blue’ when our son was diagnosed as schizo-affected.  It was “upfront and personal” and very hard to deal with, but we had no choice.  The problem was ever growing as the experiment with different prescriptions did little to alleviate the paranoia, delusions and other symptoms Steve was enduring.   

As a family, where faith is paramount, we found that there wasn’t really any help within the church.  We traveled from church to church because our son believed that surely we would find the right place where this ‘problem’ could be dealt with once and for all.  Our search in the Christian community was met with one pastor who told us the problem was solved, “we cast out all the demons.”  Steve was excited, “finally someone found the problem and I’m going to be ok.”

He wasn’t ok and it was a great trial of his faith and of ours.   Steve was a Ministerial Studies graduate at one of the finest universities and found his place in ministry soon after graduation in Hawaii.    He was doing fine in a Calvary Chapel Church. It was there that he first began to exhibit signs that something was wrong. Things didn’t work out and he returned to the mainland.

For years we dealt with Steve’s mental illness as best we could.   At one time we even found a Christian therapist who was of the same denomination as us and was within our insurance program.  Unfortunately, the therapist was transferred to another distant hospital, too far for us to travel. We were met with frustration after frustration in our quest to find something besides meds and therapists who didn’t understand the spiritual aspects that were part of Steve’s particular illness.

We have found that the enemy of our soul delights in beating up those with mood disorders.  We often heard Steve say….. “God told me he was through with me, I’ve committed the unpardonable sin.”   It would require sessions of prayer and reasoning to convince him that it was a lie from hell.   We continued to support him and take him to counseling sessions and some peer support groups, some of which only made things worse.   We couldn’t find the right therapist! The support groups were not supportive at all, sometimes all the negativity only made things worse.   There didn’t seem to be any hope anywhere.

In March of 2014 I went to a symposium called Mental Health and The Church.  It was held at Saddleback Church where Rick Warren is Pastor. Before hearing any presenters, I was browsing the many books that were available for sale in the different booths.  

One of the books caught my eye, it had a simple title, FRESH HOPE.    That’s what we needed, fresh hope. Oh how we longed for something that would help us out of the pit we were in.  Speaker after speaker presented their stories and helps in regards to mental health and mood disorders. One speaker stood out,  Brad Hoefs, the author of the book I had bought before the sessions began.

Brad had his break with reality just like Steve.   It too was traumatic and life changing. Both Steve and Brad lost their ministries because of their mental health diagnosis.  When I returned to our church after the conference, I consulted with the lead pastors and told them about FRESH HOPE and that the three of us, Steve, my wife and I would like to see this ministry at our church.  At that time, one person had to have a mental health diagnosis in order to charter with FRESH HOPE. Steve was so excited when the leadership said yes to our proposal; he would once again have a place of ministry, helping facilitate a faith based mental health support group.

We began the training through the manuals and videos provided and set a date a couple of months ahead for our launch.  Sadly, we lost Steve to a massive heart attack two weeks before our launch. But having walked beside him in his journey for seventeen years, we decided that we could use our experience and knowledge gained to help others.

Four and a half years have elapsed since that symposium and we continue to minister to those who suffer from the stigma associated with mental illness.   We are doing our part to end the stigma and break the silence, we see FRESH HOPE at our church as Steve’s legacy.

I visited a mental health ward at one of our hospitals five times last week.  This week we will have our regular meeting with people looking for help and hope; they won’t leave disappointed.   Fresh Hope fills the bill! Last week twenty seven people left feel better than when they came. We recently had to change our meeting location because we outgrew the old one!  Steve would be so glad to see that his years of suffering helped us to better reach out and touch someone. Fresh Hope is an expression of God’s hand extended. Now our quest and challenge is to develop new leaders.  Our belief is that every church needs Fresh Hope! The statistics demand a response from the Christian community. I have found that Fresh Hope is the best response a church can offer!

Thank God for all of the different groups making an effort to alleviate the pain and suffering of those with mood disorders.   However, some of them are stuck in molds that aren’t the best. One church uses a program that goes for twenty-four weeks, but if you miss the first two weeks, you have to wait till they start over!   You are welcome at Fresh Hope anytime!
Picture1Pastor Dale Rose is Minister of Pastoral Care at Canyon Hills Assembly of God in Bakersfield, California.   He and his wife, Martha, facilitate the weekly Fresh Hope peer support program for the church and are ambassador-advocates for mental health issues.   Martha does the “heavy lifting” (teaching) each week.  Contact info: freshhope4u2@gmail.com

 

 

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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Free Fresh Hope App​

Free Fresh Hope App​

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Fresh Hope is thrilled to announce that we have now have a Fresh Hope app for both Apple and Android mobile devices.   The app allows you to have all of our online resources (blogs, videos, podcasts, newsletter, recovery principles, etc.) all at your finger tips in one place.

Click on your store’s icon, and it will take you directly to the download:

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Why Loved Ones Need Support Too by Renae Blum

Why Loved Ones Need Support Too by Renae Blum

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It wasn’t until Nebraska parents Rob and Sharon* attended their first Fresh Hope group that they realized how desperately they needed to be there. Their oldest daughter, a college-age adult, had struggled with anxiety and depression since childhood, and been hospitalized several times.

“It rocks your world, when your child is sick like that,” Sharon said. “You’re just floundering around, not knowing how you’re supposed to feel, what you’re supposed to do. You go to work, and it’s like an escape, because it’s something normal.”

Attending that first Fresh Hope meeting, Rob and Sharon were stunned to read the loved ones’ section of the tenets.

“I went through and realized I could relate to every sentence,” Rob said. “I’ve felt like a victim. I’ve pushed too hard. I’ve bailed out at times – like, ‘She’s going to have to deal with this herself; I’m too tired.’”

After attending Fresh Hope for several months, and interacting with the facilitators and other members, he says he gained insight and knowledge about one of the darkest and most confusing times of his life.

“I realized that I’d been doing some things that were pretty damaging for the relationship, meaning well. I just didn’t know,” Rob said.

He gained something else as well – hope.

“You go there and realize you’re not alone. That as helpless and hopeless as it may seem, someone else has been through it too. The ‘hope’ component is pretty big,” Rob said.

Sharon said she didn’t know at first that loved ones were welcomed and encouraged to attend. At her first Fresh Hope meeting, she watched as parents and spouses around the table shared personal stories.

“Listening to them, it was like, ‘YES! I’m not weird!’” she laughed. “You go through this feeling like you can’t talk about it with anyone besides your spouse. And then you come to Fresh Hope, and suddenly there’s a room full of people who want to listen and who understand every word you say. It’s an awesome thing, and totally unique.”

Rob added that one unexpected benefit he’s gained from Fresh Hope is the ability to reach out to other struggling parents.

“It becomes clear pretty quickly that I know what they’re going through, and am a safe person to tell bad things to,” Rob said. “They can shock me with the things they say, but I’m not going to assume they’re a bad parent. Because I’ve been there. The circumstances are different, but I can sympathize, and I can listen.”

Sharon turns to him. “Maybe that’s why you’ve gone through the things you have,” she said. “It’s like that verse: ‘He comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort…’”

“‘…those who are in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God,’” Rob said, smiling as he helped her finish the verse.**

“It’s been such a blessing to our family,” Sharon said. “I hope that wherever our daughter lives, she’ll have a Fresh Hope group to go to. I’m so glad she connected with one.”

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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Making Self-Care a Way of Life by Jamie Meyer

Making Self-Care a Way of Life by Jamie Meyer

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Having a mental health diagnosis can make it difficult to care for ourselves. For people who don’t have a diagnosis, self-care is mostly a matter of choosing and making time for the things that will lead to better health. For those of us with a brain illness, it isn’t quite that simple. The question we’re more likely to ask ourselves is “Am I able?” Ability is the key word here because there are times when our symptoms can prevent us from caring for ourselves as well as we’d like.

Although we often think of self-care as something we do, it also means protecting our thought life. Nothing good comes from feeling ashamed when you can’t get out of bed or can’t concentrate because of racing thoughts.

We need to stop comparing ourselves to people who don’t have a diagnosis and let go of the messages from our culture that tell us productivity defines our value as a person. We need to be more gentle with ourselves and accept the truth–even if we don’t “feel” it’s true–that we have great value because we are God‘s creation and are loved unconditionally by Him.

After being diagnosed with Bipolar 2, I spent many years telling myself that my life was less valuable because I could no longer work full-time or take part in all the activities I had before. I beat myself up for being lazy and not trying hard enough. I felt ashamed because I didn’t want to be around other people.

When I began to interact with like-minded people in our Fresh Hope group, I came to realize that they too felt “less than” after their diagnosis. I learned from them that it’s okay to make caring for myself a priority. I felt understood and no longer needed to hide in shame.

I’ve come to accept that I’m not the same person I was before being diagnosed. But you know what? Neither is anyone else. Everyone grows and changes over time whether they have a diagnosis or not.

I’m learning to focus on the things I’m able to do, activities that are fulfilling yet keep me mentally stable. I work evenings part-time so I don’t have to get up early and I volunteer in smaller but just as valuable ways.

Another way I care for myself is by giving back to people like myself who live with the challenges of a mental health condition. In 2012, I put my personal journey into words when I wrote the book, “Stepping Out of Depression: Fresh Hope for Women Who Hurt” (available on Amazon). I wanted women to know they were not alone in dealing with depression, that true hope and healing are possible.

I also find fulfillment in giving encouragement and support to the wonderful people in our Fresh Hope group. Doing so helps me feel like I’m making a difference in my small corner of the world.

Caring for yourself involves more than eating right, exercising and reducing stress. It includes having supportive relationships and being involved in something that is meaningful to you. Self-care also means accepting the truth that you have value and purpose because of who you are, not what you do. You choose to let go of shameful thoughts and stop putting yourself down.

When we decide to make self-care a priority, life can become more satisfying and meaningful. Although we may not escape the ongoing challenges of our brain illness, we significantly improve our chances of living well in spite of it.

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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How to Support Our Children with Depression

How to Support Our Children with Depression

Every child experiences “the blues” every once in a while, but when the sadness becomes relentless, it could manifest into depression. Depression can affect a child’s personal life, school work, and social or family life. Children, versus adults, can develop depression based on additional factors like peer pressure and changing hormone levels. It’s important to be alert and supportive of our children in order to help them.

Symptoms

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) recognizes the following symptoms as warning signs of depression in children:

  • Feelings of sadness, irritability, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • A decrease in interest in activities once found enjoyable
  • Decrease in energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Talk of suicide
  • Poor school performance

 If you recognize any of these symptoms in your child there are ways you can help:

 Support

After an initial diagnosis of depression, the best thing you can do is become informed, for you and your child. Jumo Health, a digital health resource for families, offers a depression discussion guide which provides questions to help foster conversation with a doctor after a diagnosis.

Moreover, there are productive ways to create a dialogue between you and your child. Start by letting your child know why you care about how they are feeling. Ask your child about their feelings, but don’t expect them to completely understand or have all the answers. Follow up with connections and examples of some of your own feelings so that they feel relatable. It’s important for children to know that they are not alone.

 If you want to help your child even further, we previously suggested the “Three L’s”:

  • Logging thoughts in a journal
  • Laughter
  • Long walks

Have your child interpret thoughts through writing. They can use a journal to keep track of moods, visualize patterns, and even write down inspirational thoughts. Journaling is a great way for your child to get their thoughts down on paper to clarify and reflect on their feelings.

Better yet, help your child combat sadness with its opposite: laughter. Activities such as watching a funny movie or show can use humor to play an important role in depression management.

Lastly, utilize the curative effects of exercise. Physical activity has healing benefits that release endorphins in order to relieve stress.

Connect with God

It’s important to remind your child that if God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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Teens and Mental Health an Interview with Dr. Brian Lubberstedt

Teens and Mental Health an Interview with Dr. Brian Lubberstedt

Are you parenting an adolescent or soon to be one?  Then you are going to want to be sure and listen to this edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health.

In this edition, Pastor Brad Hoefs interviews Dr. Brian Lubberstedt who is a board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist. They discuss how mental health issues manifest in a teens life.

After listening to this podcast we encourage you to email us at info@FreshHope.us with a comment or question that we will share on our next podcast.

If you are listening to this podcast on iTunes, we encourage you to leave a comment regarding the podcast. Or you can leave a voice message for us on the site:  www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com

To listen to the podcast click on the icon/logo just below this sentence and it will take you to the podcast player page:

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Pastor Brad Hoefs, host of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, is the founder of Fresh Hope Ministries, a network of Christian mental health support groups for those who have a diagnosis and their loved ones. In other words, Fresh Hope is a Christian mental health support group.

Brad was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1995. He is a weekly blogger for www.bphope.us (Bipolar Magazine). He is also a certified peer specialist and has been doing pastoral counseling since 1985. Brad is also the author of Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis, which is available on Amazon or at: http://www.FreshHopeBook.com

If you are interested in more information about Fresh Hope go to http://www.FreshHope.us or email info@FreshHope.us or call 402.932.3089.

To donate to Fresh Hope go to: http://freshhope.us/donate/

For a complete list of where Fresh Hope groups are presently meeting go to www.FreshHope.us and click on “find a group.”  Or you may attain an online group of meeting of Fresh Hope by going to www.FreshHopeMeeting.com

If you are interested in starting a Fresh Hope group within your faith community contact Julie at Julie@FreshHope.us

 Fresh Hope for Mental Health is a production of Fresh Hope Ministries.

 Fresh Hope Ministries is a non-profit ministry. 

The copyrights of this program belong to Fresh Hope Ministries and may not be duplicated without written permission.

All of the podcasts of Fresh Hope Today as well as numerous other videos are all available on our YouTube channel: Fresh Hope Network

Fresh Hope for Mental Health is on Facebook at  www.Facebook.com/FreshHopeforMentalHealth

#BradHoefs #TeenMentalHealth #FreshHope #hope4MentalHealth #hope #mentalhealth #

Positive Friends Impact Depression’s Effect by Rick Quall

Positive Friends Impact Depression’s Effect by Rick Quall

By Rick Qualls

Depression lies.

It convinces you, ‘“My friends don’t want to be around me.”  “I’ll just bring everyone else down.” “I am not worthy of having friends.” “Nobody likes me anymore.”

When you are depressed, making and keeping friends can be a challenge. But research shows that a group of positive friends makes a difference.

Professor Frances Griffiths, head of social science and systems in health at Warwick Medical School University of Warwick, said: “Depression is a major public health concern worldwide. But the good news is we’ve found that a healthy mood amongst friends is linked with a significantly reduced risk of developing and increased chance of recovering from depression.”

In Griffiths study teens who have five or more mentally positive friendships have half the likelihood of depression. Those with ten friends have twice the probability of recovering from their depression symptoms.

What can you look for in positive friendships?  Good friends offer space to be yourself. They don’t try to fix you or try to make you act a certain way. They listen and offer support not judgment.

The Bible offers practical advice on developing and maintaining good friendships.

Good friends take time for each other. Friendships don’t occur in a vacuum.  “Be devoted to one another…” Romans 12:16. Spending time together doing activities that you enjoy or working on projects together create opportunities to build relationships.

Healthy friends disregard social differences, and do not avoid each other when problems arise. “Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Romans 12:16

Positive friends are not narcissistic. A narcissist can be attractive to be around at first. They are full of “self-confidence” and an energy that draws us when our self-confidence is at a low ebb.

But it is a negative signal if they manipulate you to prop up their ego. They talk about themselves and their accomplishments. They brag about knowing how to get special treatment. It is a warning if you begin to notice that all they talk about is themselves. You may notice they lack empathy or compassion or caring for others. A narcissist uses your depression against you and will make your situation worse.

Good friends develop trust over time and it becomes safe to share their deepest hearts, even the weakness and sin in our lives. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed…James 5:16

Positive friends offer non-judgmental support and listening. Friends accept you when you are depressed, when you are grieving, or going through any kind of trials. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7

Solid relationships are based know how to put up with each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. Everyone has some peculiar behaviors. “…be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Eph 4:2

Friends build each other up and do not tear the other down. Words are powerful tools to help bolster one another. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Eph 4:29

Friendships don’t just happen. We must be intentional about developing these relationships. They take time, encouragement,  trust, and sharing with one another.

These healthy friendships can have positive impact on your depression.

Depression lies. There are people around you that care.

Check out Rick’s other posts and the posts of all of our Fresh Hope bloggers at: Fresh Hope Blog

 

Photograph by Priscilla Du Preez

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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30 Things You Can Do When Someone You Love is Clinically Depressed

30 Things You Can Do When Someone You Love is Clinically Depressed

When you love someone that is experiencing deep depression it can be exhausting and melanie-wasser-233297frustrating.  You want to encourage your loved one but don’t want to push them too much. Encouraging them to “push through” but knowing when not to do so is a delicate balance.  You might even find yourself feeling the depression emotionally.  No doubt caring for someone who is in the depths of depression can feel as though life is being sucked out of you.  You can end up having no idea as to how to help or encourage your loved one.

Here’s somethings my wife did for me and/or encouraged me to do when I was in the depths of depression:

  1. Encourage them to do something that they usually have enjoyed doing and do it with them.
  2. Watch an uplifting movie with them.
  3. Make them their favorite meal.
  4. Sit quietly with them. Hold their hand.
  5. Take a walk with them.
  6. Take care of yourself!
  7. Help them establish and stick to a schedule if possible.
  8. Have some expectations of them.
  9. Assure them of your unconditional love.
  10. Assure them that this will pass sooner or later.
  11. Give them a back rub.
  12. Listen to soothing, spiritually uplifting music with them.
  13. Ask them to help you make or do something.
  14. Encourage them to talk and listen carefully.
  15. Encourage them to see a doctor if they have not done so.
  16. Assure them you don’t believe that they are weak or lack faith, but that you know their brain chemistry is experiencing imbalance.
  17. Ask them to promise you that if they ever begin to feel like they begin to feel suicidal that they will tell you. If they tell you, consult with their doctor as soon as possible or contact the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. If the situation is an emergency, dial 911.
  18. Ask them what might bring them comfort.
  19. Talk about the future. Help them see there is a future.
  20. Encourage them to exercise with you.
  21. Turn on the lights, open the windows.
  22. Find out as much as you can about depression. This is a great website: https://www.lighterblue.com/#lighter-blue
  23. Change your light bulbs to full spectrum light bulbs.
  24. Give your loved one a mood light. Northern Light Technologies has a wide variety of options.  http://northernlighttechnologies.com/  (Before purchasing these you’ll want to check with the doctor.)
  25. Get them vitamin D and B12.
  26. Remind them of times when they have overcome adversity so they know it is possible for them to do so again.
  27. Encourage them to get outside for a walk and some natural sunlight.
  28. Turn off news programs and other negative media. Control negative inputs.
  29. Where possible, encourage them to connect with friends.
  30. Pray.  Every time you find yourself worrying about your loved one, pray instead.

Please know, as a loved one it is SO important that you do take care of yourself too. Stay balanced and do somethings that you enjoy.  Take care of yourself spiritually and emotionally.  Also, know this, the Lord is with you too!  He will see you through this valley. Stay in His word. Hold to His hope. And when you can, laugh a little!  You are not alone. There is hope.  And there is healing.

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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Choosing Hope in the Face of Hopelessness

Choosing Hope in the Face of Hopelessness

Hopelessness is serious. Every day people fall into the hopeless hole of hopelessness due to their struggle with a mental health issue. Hopelessness begins to knock at the door of one’s heart when you feel and believe that you have no future. It happens so easily, and it can take root all too fast. Each time we face one of life’s interruptions which change our perceived future hopelessness can settle in and live rent free in our hearts and minds.

Over 20 years ago I faced a life-altering interruption due to having bipolar disorder. At that time I was pastoring one of the fastest growing churches in my denomination. However, following that painful manic episode, which had interrupted my life, I was asked to resign. It was earth-shattering. My position and the church had become my identity. I was devastated to the point of complete hopelessness. I had lost my future. Hopelessness had set in. And the deep dark hole of depression became a shameful guilt place of familiarity for me; months and months of severe depression followed.

For years prior to this interruption I had felt as though I had a monster inside of me that I had to manage.

The more stress I experienced with pastoring a growing church, the more impossible it was to control the monster within me. More times than not, the monster was controlling me. So, when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I found out that the monster had a name. And strangely enough, a small ray of hope began to break through the hopelessness what had swallowed me whole.

Why would there be a small ray of hope following my diagnosis?   After all, usually people see the diagnosis of bipolar disorder as the difficult thing to accept. Well, it was because of the people around me who helped me to see that the diagnosis and treatment of my bipolar disorder were a way back to having a future. It was the idea that the bipolar could be treated and I could have a future poked a small pinhole of hope into the darkness of hopelessness. It was not an easy journey, but it was more than worth it. With that small pinhole of hope, I could see a way forward. I began to grieve what I had lost and began to embrace a new and different future; believing that I could live well in spite of having bipolar disorder.

Dr. Sean Lopez, the author of Making Hope Happen, has done extensive research on hope for over 14 years. His research supports what I experienced. When I thought I had no future, hopelessness set in and took over. And when I could see the way to a future, hope began to start. And the clearer the future became for me, the more hope I felt.

Interestingly enough, hope can be borrowed, shared and it can be caught! Think about it, if you hang around a lot of hopeless friends, you will begin to feel hopeless. And if you hang out with people who are filled with hope you will begin to feel hopeful.

So, I have a question for you: How is your hope tank doing? Do you feel like you can see a way forward? If not, do you potentially need to let go of the future that as you thought it would be, grieve it and let it go? Do you need to embrace the new potential future? There’s no doubt that doing this is a process. It is not like switching a light switch on. But, it is a choice.

Hope is truly a choice. For me as a Christian, hope is not only a choice, but it is sure and certain. Paul reminds us that no matter what our circumstances might be there is a future because the Lord will work all things out together for our good. (Romans 8:28) So, I certainly may not “feel” hopeful, but I choose to believe Romans 8:28 and that means that there is a future. It may not have been the future as I thought it would be, but it is a future.

So, again, my question is: how is your hope tank? Is your hope tank empty? Is being a caregiver sucking the hope right out of you? Do you see a way forward into the future?

Are you strong enough to make the choice of hope? If not, I have some hope you can borrow.See, I know because of the storms I’ve been through in my life that God is at work in all things. He is with you. He has not left you. He won’t leave you. And He is FOR you and your entire family! He has a plan. It may not be the life you and I planned prior to bipolar showing up, but in spite of us having bipolar disorder He has a plan!

Everything may not be “good” right now, but all is well because of Him. He has heard every single one of your tears as a liquid prayer.   Look for that little tiny bit of light coming through the “pin” hole poking through the hopelessness you might be feeling. Choose hope. Choose it minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day and your feelings will begin to catch up. There is a future and joy is included in it.

Check out Brad’s weekly podcast at www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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Mastering the Art of Self-Distraction

Mastering the Art of Self-Distraction

By: Brad Hoefs

Have you ever been intently focused on writing something when someone comes up behind you to ask you a question? Slightly startled, you answer the question and try to return to what you were writing, and because your train of thought was interrupted you can’t get your creative writing juices going again!  Staying focused is a necessary attribute when attempting to do many different types of things. And when our train of thought is interrupted, it is hard to continue to come back to that same focus.

 

Think about it, It would be next to impossible as a parent of small children if you were attempting to read the instructions and put together your latest purchase from Ikea.  Picture it, you’re sitting in the middle of the room with all of the latest parts laid out for a new dresser, and the kids are consistently asking you questions about what you were doing and demanding your attention!  It would try your patience. Chances are that you would give up because you wouldn’t be able to focus on the task. Most likely you would come to the conclusion that the assembly process would be a lot easier if you weren’t getting distracted by the kids.  

 

Being focused is essential for getting a lot of different types of tasks done in this life.  However, sometimes being intensely focused or “stuck” in our thinking about something is not good and we end up needing to be distracted from it.  We need to be interrupted! There are times we can become intensely focused, ruminating over and over on something negative. It’s at that point that we need to interrupt and distract our thinking.  Mastering the art of self-distraction is key to overcoming overthinking and negative ruminating. Lest our brain begins to get stuck like the needle of a record player within one of the groves of a vinyl record.  (For those of you who might be too young to know what I’m talking about, you’ll have to “Google-it.” 🙂 )

So, how does self-distraction work?  

The most important thing to do is to make a list of at least five to seven things that you like to do and refresh you, that requires you to focus on them that restores you.  For example, one of these things for me is to do artwork. I like to paint or make things out of mixed mediums. So, whenever I do that, my mind resets. It’s like a fresh reboot of my brain.  The same thing happens if I get up and take a walk or a drive. It’s these sorts of things you need to put on your list. What makes you happy? Baking? Art? Sports? A good movie? Reading? A walk? Helping someone else? Time with a friend? Crafts?

As part of your list, include three friends that you enjoy being with that you could call and ask to do any one of these activities along with you.

Then,

  1. When you recognize the need to interrupt your thinking, first make the decision that you need to interrupt your thinking, that you need to self-distract.
  2. Choose one of the things to do from your already established list of “brain reboots.”  (By the way, even if the activity doesn’t require you to change your location or space, think about doing that anyway.  A different room of the house, changing your physical space or position certainly helps disrupt your ruminating.)
  3. If the first one you choose to do, doesn’t do the trick, pick another one.
  4. If that does not work, then call a friend and ask them to do one of them with you.  If the first of the three friends aren’t home, then move to the next one on the list. Hopefully at least one of the three of them will be available. Don’t give up easily.  Keep trying to get ahold of them until one of them can do something with you. And in the meantime, do something that absolutely needs to be done that you don’t like to do. Maybe it’s laundry?  Yardwork?

 

What if what the thinking that you are focused on is painful but necessary to do?  Sometimes there is thinking that feels worse than ruminating, yet we need to process to move on in life.  An example of this might be the work of grief. If this is the case, then you might need to tell yourself you are going to focus on working on it for the next 45 minutes, set a timer and then when the timer goes off set a time to come back to it later in the day or the next day.  And then go to your list and refresh yourself with something you like to do that will reset your thinking.

By nature, I’m a ruminator.  I tend to over think, over process things and get my “stinkin’ thinkin'” stuck in deep ruts.  So, learning the art of self-distraction has been one of the most helpful recovery tools that I have mastered.  How about you? Do you know how to self-distract? Do you have a list of your favorite distractors? What would you add to those I’ve mentioned above?

 

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