Pastor Brad Hoefs

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

So, Have you heard the News about the Fresh Hope Network?

So, Have you heard the News about the Fresh Hope Network?

It is Fresh Hope´s latest gift for you and the beginning of a new era for Fresh Hope…!!

A 24/7, EXCLUSIVE, PRIVATE, HOPE FILLED space online where you will get to have your own profile, your friends, and your news feed! But that is not all!….

  1. It is FREE! Not only are there NO fees to pay to become a member.. you will also get access to Free courses and resources!
  • It`s International. Did you know that Fresh Hope now has friends and members in over 12 countries around the world? Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Japan, Belgium, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, Bolivia, Perú, The US, Canada, you name it! The network works both in English and Spanish making it even more exciting.
  • It allows you to connect and stay connected!! Connect to people with lived experience. Connect with people in Fresh Hope Support Groups. Interact with your Fresh Hope Group anytime. Connect with other facilitators too!
  • It allows you to seek specific support! You can now create and/or join your own Special Interest Groups, called “Affinity Groups” in the Network and regroup with people with situations just like yours!

Want to meet other mothers like you that went through post-partum depression? Go for it by Creating an Affinity Group! Want to connect with other men diagnosed with bipolar disorder? With other parents dealing with mental health issues in their children? With those dealing with an addiction as well as a mental health diagnosis? There are no limits to how you can use the Affinity Groups for your own good!

  • It allows you to fill up your hope tank every day and never feel isolated again! By visiting the News Feed you can now share your heart, be heard and share hope with everyone and anyone in the network and at the same time read what others post and be filled with the hope that they share!

 So what are you waiting for…!? All you need to do is:

  1. Go to www.freshhope.us
  2. Click on the upper, right corner where it says “Sign Up”
  3. Fill out the short form.
  4. Confirm by clicking on the link you will receive by email and voila!

I can hardly wait to see you there…!!

A New Book for Those Who Love Someone with a Mental Illness!

A New Book for Those Who Love Someone with a Mental Illness!

“When it comes to mental illness, it is an equal opportunity provider of pain, struggles, and difficulties.  Those who have a mental illness and their loved ones are all subject to the layers of difficulties that mental illness brings into their relationships and life itself.  There is no doubt in my mind that being the loved one of someone who has a mental illness can be as difficult as having the illness itself.  I know because I am both one with a diagnosis and a loved one.  In fact, it is even possible for those who love someone with a mental illness to suffer even more than their loved one who has the diagnosis. It is so very difficult to watch someone you love suffer so much, and even more difficult when they refuse to be compliant in their treatment, or they continually self-sabotage their recovery.” (Taken from the opening introduction paragraph of “Holding to Hope: Staying Sane While Loving Someone with a Mental Illness.”)

Yes, you read that correctly!  Our newly published book for the loved ones of those who have a mental health issue will be released on August 1st!  (To pre-order the book, go to: Holding to Hope)

“One of the most helpful jobs a book can do is give us words to validate and define our experience.  In this book, you’ll receive those words, along with realistic encouragement and multilayered hope,” says Amy Simpson, author of Troubled Minds, Anxious, and Blessed Are the Unsatisfied

“Holding to Hope is refreshingly real and enormously useful.  The Hoefs open a window to their lives, sharing the challenges of living with a mental health challenge as husband and wife, a pastor and a pastor’s wife, parents, and friends to others.  Brad and Donna’s vulnerability and honesty are a testament to living a life of hope, learning how to lean into your circumstances, and coming out better.  You won’t regret reading this book.  In fact, you’ll give thanks for Brad and Donna’s lives that have now enriched thousands,” says Doug Beach, Chairman of the NAMI FaithNetNational Advisory Group, NAMI Instructor and Support Group Leader, NAMI San Antonio, Texas.

The entire first half of Holding to Hope is based upon the seven Fresh Hope principles of recovery for those who are loved ones of someone who has a mental health challenge.  Each of these chapters include thought-provoking questions as well real-life stories and spiritual insights.  The book’s first half lends itself towards even small groups of loved ones processing the content together.   (You can download one of the chapters for free by clicking here.). One of the ways that the Hoefs hope that the book will be used is for groups of those who love someone with a mental health challenge to use the book as a 12-week study guide.

The second half of the book is made up of shorter chapters that deal with various other issues such as living well and relationships. 

The release date of the book is August 1, 2021.  You can pre-order a signed copy of the book today by clicking here at the introductory price of $21, which includes shipping!  Xulon Press Elite is the publisher of the book.   The book is also available on Amazon and at Barnes and Nobel Online Bookstore.

Evan Owens, the founder of Reboot Recovery, says, “If you are serious about wanting to overcome or help someone overcome mental health challenges, this is a must-have book. You’ll find yourself referencing it time and again.  It is practical, insightful, and told by a couple that actually understands!”

This is the third book released by Fresh Hope for Mental Health.  The title of the first book is, Fresh Hope for Mental Health: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Challenge in English.  The second book released by Fresh Hope is the Spanish translation of the first book.

Finding The Source Of Your Fears by Stan Popovich

Finding The Source Of Your Fears by Stan Popovich

By Stan Popovich

A sure way to overcoming your fears and anxieties is in finding the source of your fears and being able to manage it. In dealing with any kinds of fears or anxieties, try to learn what is the real source of your fears and anxieties. Knowing what is causing your anxieties can go a long way in finding the solution.

A person can find the source of his or her own fears by doing some self-evaluation and also by talking to a professional. Asking yourself questions such as: “Why am I afraid” or “What is causing my anxiety” will lead you in the right direction in finding the source of your fears. Give it some time and eventually you will find the answers your looking for.

Once you find the true source of your fears, the next step is to find the solutions that will solve your problem. With the help of a professional, write down a list of possible techniques and solutions that you think will manage your fear and anxieties. The next step is to apply the techniques that you uncovered. Here is a brief list of some techniques you can use to help deal with your fears.

A good way to manage your worry is to challenge your negative thinking with positive statements and realistic thinking. When encountering thoughts that make your fearful or anxious, challenge those thoughts by asking yourself questions that will maintain objectivity and common sense.

Be smart in how you deal with your fears and anxieties. Do not try to tackle everything all at once. When facing a current or upcoming task that overwhelms you with a lot of anxiety, break the task into a series of smaller steps. Completing these smaller tasks one at a time will make the stress more manageable and increases your chances of success.

Learn to take it one day at a time. Instead of worrying about how you will get through the rest of the week or coming month, try to focus on today. Each day can provide us with different opportunities to learn new things and that includes learning how to deal with your problems. When the time comes, hopefully you will have learned the skills to deal with your situation.

Sometimes we encounter a scary situation that gets us all upset. When encountering these events, always remember to get all of the facts of the given situation. Gathering the facts can prevent us from relying on exaggerated and fearful assumptions. By focusing on the facts, a person can rely on what is reality and what is not.

In every anxiety-related situation you experience, begin to learn what works, what doesn’t work, and what you need to improve on in managing your fears and anxieties. For instance, you have a lot of anxiety and you decide to take a walk to help you feel better. The next time you feel anxious you can remind yourself that you got through it the last time by taking a walk. This will give you the confidence to manage your anxiety the next time around.

Many people try to get rid of their anxieties and fears without taking into consideration why they are afraid. The best way to get rid of your fears is to find those techniques that will manage the true source of your fears. If you can do this, then you should be able to overcome your fears and anxieties.

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

A Key to Thriving in Spite of Your Difficult Circumstances

A Key to Thriving in Spite of Your Difficult Circumstances

Over the last 30 years, I’ve spent untold hours doing pastoral counseling with what seems to be a “gazillion” or more individuals, couples and families. I’ve heard just about everything and seen even more than I’ve heard. I’ve seen what seems to be manageable problems tear families apart. Broken relationships, wounded people, discouragement, and despair seem all too familiar. But, interestingly enough there have been times when I have watched families, couples and individuals actually pull together and become stronger because of overwhelming circumstances that I was sure that no one could go through and “survive”. They not only survived, but they thrived!

I’ve asked myself what it is that those who thrive in spite of horrible life altering circumstances have that those who seem done in by even less severe circumstance do not have? I have come to the conclusion that there are some things that the “thrivers” have in common. And there seems to be one major thing that they all have in common for not just surviving but thriving in spite of their circumstances. What is that one thing? They help others in spite of their circumstances. They regularly and consistently give and help other people in spite of their pain.

Helping and giving to others gives temporary relief to one’s overwhelming circumstances. It has the power to cause a shift in one’s perception of their problems. Time and time again I have seen people going through tragic events in their lives step out of their pain to help someone else. By giving to others their focus changes. When you and I help others in spite of what is going on in our lives, it has the power to change everything. When I move the focus off of myself and onto someone else to give to them, if even for a brief moment, my personal pain is brought into focus.

It seems that when you and I lose our perspective due to our circumstances the circumstances feel even worse. When we focus only on ourselves and how horrible our circumstances might be we allow the circumstances to hold even more power and pain in our lives.

Giving and helping others in spite of what we might be going through is the release valve from the pressures of our circumstances. Just like a teapot the pressure builds in our lives when the circumstances are difficult. There has to be a release of the build up of the environmental pressure, or it leads to potential disaster.

A mental health disorder/illness can be very challenging. It can cause difficult circumstances within one’s life. It can cause you and me to become very self-focused. Which at times is necessary. But, if all we do is focus on ourselves, then bipolar disorder has the potential to hold too much power in our lives. You know what I mean?

How about you? Are you only focused on you and your circumstances? If so, have you thought about helping someone else? Or doing something for someone else? Have you found helping others to be good for you?

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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Managing Your Fears With The Help Of God by Stan Popovich

Managing Your Fears With The Help Of God by Stan Popovich

 

By

Dealing with fear and anxiety can be very difficult. As a result, using the help of God can be very effective in managing your fears. With this in mind, here are some suggestions on how a person can use the help of God in his or her own struggles.

The first step a person should do is to start talking and praying to God. A person can go to church or to a quiet place during the day to tell God that they are having a problem. They should tell God how they feel and ask God for some of his help. A person could also review the Bible and read some articles on trusting in God and then apply these concepts in their life. Each and every day, a person should make it up a habit to talk to God and ask for His help.

Remember that the one source that a person should use as a basis in managing their fears and anxieties is using God as a basis in dealing with their fears. Why? The power of God is the one power that is stronger than your fears and anxieties. Also, God loves each one of us and he is the one person who has the power to solve all of our problems. He will help you if you ask him to.

When using the help of God to manage your fears, a person needs to be aware of how God is working in their life. Most of the time God works in mysterious ways and the answers he provides might not be that obvious. A person must be aware of God being in their life even when they are dealing with their fears and anxieties.

A person must also be sensitive to the answers God gives them. Some people think that the answers that God provides must be religious in nature. That is not always the case. God may provide the answers in a way that might not be religious in nature. These answers could involve basic psychology and cognitive techniques that deals with how to manage fear and anxiety. The point to remember is that although a person may use these psychology methods, its important to use God as the center of everything in your life and in your struggle.

If you have trouble, talk to a member of the clergy or a professional counselor to help deal with your fears and anxieties. They will be able to provide you with additional advice and insights on how to deal with your current problem. By talking to a professional a person will be helping themselves in the long run because they will become better able to deal with their problems in the future. Remember that it never hurts to ask for help.

Finally, the most important thing is to continue praying and talking to God. Talk to God as if you were talking to a friend. Read the Bible and pray hard. Be persistent and be open in the avenues that God may provide to you in solving your problem. It is not always easy, however God is in control and he will help you if you ask Him.

 

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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Depression in Men – Symptoms, triggers, and how to cope with it

Guest Blog By Ralph Macey

People become disheartened, irritable, or tired and experience issues with a good night’s sleep when they face severe emotional turmoil. These are some of the common reactions of human beings when they are going through stress, anxiety, or mostly…depression issues within a few days.

Lots of men struggle with depression throughout their lives which may harm their normal life cycle in many ways. Men may have a greater tendency to feel anger, show aggressiveness, and engage in substance abuse, compared to women.

Most men hesitate to discuss their feelings or seek help for depression. This is because men believe that depression is an emotional sign of weakness or a failing of masculinity. That’s why discussing this weakness can make them weaker. As a result, their depression gets worse with time.

How common is depression?

Both men and women may experience severe depression issues, but the signs and symptoms in both cases can be much different.

Depression can affect millions of men all over the world, of all ages and cultures. But one thing we must also consider is that not only the men but people around them are also getting affected. For loved ones such as spouses, kids, parents, friends, and other family members, neighbors, everyone’s life is more or less faces an impact.

When men are having depression, sudden changes might be seen in their thinking, feelings, and functions in their daily life. Those rapid changes may also affect their productivity at the workplace or schools and harm their relationships, sleep habits, diet, and overall lifestyle. Severe depression can be intense and may cause physical and mental damage.

Men suffering from depression can harm themselves mortally and the count is four times more than women. So, it is necessary that men should take help regarding depression before it is too late. They should discuss their issues honestly with a friend, or a doctor and clearly open up about what’s going on in their mind, along with their body. For a perfect diagnosis, the signs and symptoms should be carefully noticed in the patient.

Signs and symptoms

Depression signs and symptoms are much different in men compared to women. Men sometimes use different coping skills just as women do.  Normally men show different signs and symptoms while experiencing depression, due to their brain chemistry, hormones, and life experiences.

Practically, men may show the following symptoms of depression:

●        Sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness

●        Feel extremely tired

●        Insomnia or sleeping too much

●        Less interest in regular activities.

●        Lack of concentration

●        Headaches

●        Tightness in the chest

●        Joint, limb, or back pain

●     Digestive problems

Apart from these symptoms, there are a few behavioral signs that may be considered depression in men:

●        Spending too much time alone.

●        Spending a lot more time at work.

●        Physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive problems, and pain

●        Losing interest in sex and experiencing sexual issues

●        Avoiding family or social situations

●        Irritability

●        Taking unnecessary risks while driving

●        Drinking more or taking drugs.

●        Controlling, violent or abusive behavior

●     Attempting suicide

Triggers

As per the experts, there might be multiple reasons for depression in men such as Biological, psychological, and social. Apart from that lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills also play a serious part in this issue.

So, men who suffer from severe depression, might encounter the following triggers or risk factors that make the situation worse:

●        Loneliness and lack of social support

●        Early childhood trauma or abuse

●        Anxiety and stress

●        A past record of alcohol consumption or substance abuse

●        Having a divorce, job loss, or bereavement

●        Having serious physical health problems

●        Family history of depression or other mental health issues

●     Experiencing sexual dysfunction

Coping strategies

  1. Some unique lifestyle changes and coping strategies can help men to manage depression to a certain level.
  2. Creating a daily routine and maintaining it may help a person to avoid all the hassle every day.
  3. Speed walking or running can help to produce endorphins which can boost a person’s mood and heal depression.
  4. If big tasks look unmanageable and confusing, people may divide them into smaller tasks. It will help them to achieve their goal and remove depression.
  5. Meditation and yoga may help a lot to reduce stress and support well-being. As a result, the sense of depressiveness will be reduced.
  6. Connecting to your dear ones, sharing feelings with friends, may make people feel less overwhelmed. As much as people keep away from loneliness, the depressive mood will also recover faster.
  7. Reducing alcohol intake can boost mood. Apart from that, it will also keep the body toxin-free and healthy.
  8. Have a pet and start taking care of it. The sense of responsibility sometimes removes stress and boosts your concentration.
  9. Get on a better sleep schedule by learning healthy sleep habits. At Least 7 to 8 hours of sleep can help to charge the mood and reduce depression.
  10. Spending time in nature may also boost the mind and bring positivity.
  11. Think twice before making important decisions, such as shifting jobs, until you get over with depression symptoms.

Connect with God

It’s important to convey the message to the men who are suffering from depression that – if you believe in god, know the fact that He comes close to those who suffer. So keep your eyes open for Him.

Believe the truth that the almighty God is not silent when people suffer. On every page of Scripture, God’s depressed children can find hope and a reason to endure. For example, take 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV):

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

In your darkest days, you may follow the guidelines of the Bible. Here are a few suggestions for Bible passages that you may find helpful.

●        Read about Jesus’ suffering in Isaiah 53 and Mark 14.

●        Depression could make you weak and easy prey for Satan’s. Jesus’ death on the cross proves God’s love for you. (Romans 5:6-8, 1 John 4:9,10)

●        Know about persevering and enduring. Read on (Romans 5:3, Hebrews 12:1, James 1:2-4)

●        Read Hebrews 11 and 12. You’ll know that many before you have walked this path and they will assure you that God did not fail them.

●        Know your purpose for being a human. Read (Matthew 22:37-39, 1 Corinthians 6:20,  2 Corinthians 5:15, Galatians 5:6)

●        Use Psalm 88 and Psalm 86 as your personal prayers to God.

Author Bio: Ralph Macey, a professional writer since 2008 and medical health/patient care coordinator at savantcare.com since 2014, writes articles on all mental health-related subjects. He holds a degree and two professional certifications in his field and continues to upgrade his knowledge with additional classes and seminars. He has provided mental health consultations and private fitness instructions for free in his local community. To connect with him, go to his Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

A Doctor’s Insight on Maintaining Mental Health While Providing Care During the Pandemic

A Doctor’s Insight on Maintaining Mental Health While Providing Care During the Pandemic

There is no doubt that those who are on the medical frontlines of this pandemic are true heroes! But even heroes have to care for their mental health. Dr. Babbitt, a hospitalist in a primary healthcare system in Omaha, Nebraska, shares insights into how she maintains her mental health during the daily stresses of being on the front medical line of this pandemic.

While these insights on maintaining one’s mental health during the pandemic are helpful to all, they provide transparent hope and great insight for those stressed to the maximum while giving medical care right now! So, I invite you to pass this onto to anyone you might know who is providing medical care during this time of COVID-19.

Dr. Jocelyn K Babbitt is a Hospitalist Specialist in Omaha, Nebraska. She graduated with honors from University Of Nebraska College Of Medicine in 2008. Having more than 12 years of diverse experiences, especially in HOSPITALIST, Dr. Jocelyn K Babbitt affiliates with many hospitals including The Nebraska Methodist Hospital, Midwest Surgical Hospital LLC, cooperates with many other doctors and specialists in medical group Physicians Clinic Inc.


You can listen to or watch this interview.

Click here to listen.

Click here to watch.

Staying Sane When Times are Crazy Such as Now!

Staying Sane When Times are Crazy Such as Now!

As I write, we are about 240 days into the COVID-19 corona virus global pandemic. Do you remember when we first initially heard about it and it sounded so far off, so far away? And then we faced the lockdowns.

To be honest, when that happened, I thought – in my simplistic way of looking at things – ‘Okay, we’ll stay at home and we’ll get through this, and it’ll be about six weeks long and then life will return to normal.’ And so I just plunked myself down and became a total couch potato, watching the news and every report for several weeks. And at that point, I said, ‘Okay, this doesn’t look like it’s very good, and it might go on forever. So, I’ve got to get my buttootie up and start working.’ So, I started working hard and working from home. 

What have I learned about how to stay sane during crazy times like this? So many of us are simply trying to make it through a time where nothing is normal and we’re isolated in many ways. For those of us in the United States, we’ve just gone through a confusing whirlwind of an election, where people burned bridges with family and friends due to politics, fueled by the influences of social media.

Let’s look at ways to stay sane as we now approach what is being called the ‘Dark Winter’. At this writing, COVID numbers are critically rising across the United States. Hospitals are filling, and many can take no more patients. Most likely, more restrictions will be coming, especially with the holidays upon us. Traditional gatherings and celebrations will be smaller and far different than what we look forward to.

So how do we stay sane during times like this, where everything we thought was certain now becomes uncertain, and life becomes rocky and we don’t know what the future looks like? At times, we end up isolating ourselves due to difficulties, and isolation in and of itself can bring on even more issues. I have gone through basically storm after storm with my family: losing our home, losing my mother-in-law to suicide, my episodes with bipolar disorder and hospitalizations which all became public, as well as experiencing difficulties in ministry through the years. So how do we survive these times? 

Here’s some of the things I found. One very important point I want to share right up front is that you’ve got to grab hold of how you are thinking. You must maintain your thoughts. You must pay attention to that. Especially during crazy times, you cannot let your thinking be on automatic pilot. And so, here’s three core values that have helped me and are underscored by a psychologist I found on the web. These are proven to be effective and they’ve been clinically researched. 

First of all, you’ve got to get it clear in your mind that you can choose to believe in your ability to manage whatever is going to come and for however long it takes. So it really is okay to take it one day at a time. In other words, you have to believe in yourself and you have to choose to believe that. You have to choose to think that. You have to choose to see that – that you will in fact have what’s necessary for the day that you are in. But if you start looking at everything society will experience weeks, months, and a year from now, you won’t know what you have for that day. 

I many times think of the passage from Psalm 23, ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.’ To me, that means I’m going to have everything I need for every single day that I’m alive. But if I start looking at months and months ahead, I worry how the Lord’s going to provide for all those things. And so, I just need to rest in my faith and in the abilities that God has given me – that I in fact can and will have everything that is necessary for day to day. And I will be able to cope with all of this. I’ll be able to manage it no matter what. Now, that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it. It doesn’t mean that I have to like it, but I certainly don’t have to see it as being something I hate and detest- and complain about. I’m only making myself more miserable by detesting it every inch of the way.

There comes a point where you just say, ‘It is what it is. I cannot change it, therefore I accept it. And I accept the fact and I believe that I will be able to manage, however I need to manage through all of this, but I will only take it one day at a time.’ 

Secondly, you and I can remind ourselves that uncertainty does not guarantee that bad things will happen. It just means ‘I don’t know yet. I don’t know what it’s going to be like.’ For instance, you may be dreading getting the COVID virus. And if you do, how bad is it going to be? And when are they going to get that vaccination? Honestly, I find myself thinking that way. After all, I’m overweight, I’m older (let’s just say over 60). And on top of that, I have asthma and mildly high blood pressure that I take medicine for.

And so I find myself having anxiety about, ‘Oh gosh, do I want to get together with this person or do this at the risk of getting sick?’ And my assumptions always lead right down a dark rabbit hole that says, ‘Oh, I’m going to get really sick if I get this and may even die.’ Well, that’s kind of catastrophizing, isn’t it. It could be that some people get it and some won’t. Anxiety and angst come from the uncertainty with the virus, the economy, and the election. We don’t know what the outcome is going to be yet.

The fact that I worry about COVID-19 does not increase the likelihood of having it or not having it. It just feels like it becomes more intense because we keep ruminating about it. And we live with a lot of unknowns in our lives. Choose to believe that, ‘Hey, today is good. Don’t have it today, not sick. I’m going to live. I’m going to take today and enjoy it and live and get things done that I need to get done.’ In fact, I initially said, ‘Oh, let’s hit the pause button here and wait until they get this figured out. And then I’ll press play again and go about living.’ 

Instead, it’s unknown. There are a lot of unknowns right now, but we actually live with all kinds of unknowns every day. It might help to remind yourself of some of those unknowns. Thirdly, you and I can recognize that we cope with uncertainty in other parts of our lives all the time. Try to envision exactly what your relationships are going to be like a year from now. How about work? What will two years, three years, four years, five years from now look like? There’s just a lot of stuff you and I don’t know. So we’ve had lots of practice in tolerating unknown things.

You and I can believe and recognize this is, in fact, true – that we’ve learned to tolerate the unknown all through our lives, and this is just another unknown. And in fact, I really see it happening within myself, and maybe within society in general, that we’re just learning to accept that this is a new thing we have to navigate. But it’s like a lot of other things in life – we don’t sit around worrying whether we’re going to get cancer or have a heart attack, or whether we’re going to do this or that.

To recap, the three ways of looking at things and thinking about them, are 1) we can choose to believe in our ability to manage whatever may come. 2) we can remind ourselves that uncertainty does not guarantee that bad things will happen. And 3) we can recognize that we can cope with the uncertainty in other parts of life. Certainly, we can deal with the uncertainty in these matters. 

Part 2 will focus on things to remember when you’re going through tough times. And Part 3 will be about how to do some practical things to help cope. 

I’d like to pray for you…

Father, the Apostle Paul said that we need to take captive our thinking and that we need to hold on to all of those things, and we need to control how we look at things and frame them. Paul says it, Your word teaches it, that we need to take captive our thinking. So Lord, help us during this time that just seems crazy and uncertain and all over the place, just to take this one day at a time. Knowing, Lord, that You have given us the ability along with You and using our faith to manage uncertain times. And Lord, help us to remember also that uncertainty doesn’t mean bad things are happening or will happen for sure.

Lord, sometimes I think I understand why we have and will live with a lot of uncertainty in our lives, because if things were always 100% certain, we wouldn’t trust in You as much. So in this uncertain time, in these times of craziness, Lord, we turn to You, we trust in You, and we know that You never ever change. So help our faith rise to the top of all the uncertainty and all the noise that’s going on in the world today. And to help our faith, fill us with hope in You. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

If you’re looking for mental health help during these trying times, consider participating in a Fresh Hope support group. You can go to our website to find where we have groups, both in person and online, in English and Spanish. We also have books and other resources. Check us out at FreshHope.us and share with your friends, too.

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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Bipolar and Creating Mini Habits For Positive Change

Bipolar and Creating Mini Habits For Positive Change

To change our default setting it must be done one mini habit at a time.

If you are like me, there have been numerous times you were highly motivated to make BIG changes in your mental health journey. One of those times for me was deciding that I needed to exercise at least three times a week. That was a big change to make since I wasn’t even exercising once a week. So I exercised three times that first week, but by the next week I had given it up. I just couldn’t do it. It was too big of a change.

I’ve done this over and over throughout the years since being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1995. I would be highly motivated to make a healthy change regarding my sleep, eating, exercising, thinking, or working. It seemed that the motivation to make the change would last a short time before I would revert to my “default settings.” And each time I would feel like a bigger failure. I began to believe that my inability to stay motivated to make a healthy change had to be connected in some way to having bipolar disorder. After all, I could easily become “laser-beamed-focused” on something I wanted or liked to do, so I became convinced that my repeated failures had to have something to do with having bipolar.

It was as though any unhealthy “default settings” I had or any changes that I wasn’t allyousef-al-nasser-261164 that interested in – even though they would be good for me – could only be made little by little because I just didn’t have enough self-motivation to do them all at once. I figured I just didn’t have the self-discipline necessary, or somehow there was a flaw in my character. Those beliefs changed recently when someone introduced me to a book that they had found very helpful in making changes in their life. The title of the book is Mini Habits by Stephen Guise. I discovered that if I began making small changes for extended periods of time, the changes would stick.

In the book, Guise clarifies the difference between motivation and self-will. He says that motivation is short-lived, and to make real change you have to begin doing small things that can be done via pure self-will, and not depend on motivation to do it.

He started to change his health by doing one push-up daily. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But think about it. Had he decided to do 50 per day, that would have required ongoing motivation, and he would have given up when the motivation to do the 50 push-ups had passed. (Which would have been on the first day for me! lol) So his first mini habit was to do a single push-up. Doing just the one push-up, he could make himself do it via self-will power. What he found was that once he would do one push-up, he always did a few more, but no matter what, he always did at least one. He changed his brain’s default setting slowly, over time, and it stuck.

I’ve got to tell you that this little book on mini habits is changing my life!

I’ve stopped beating up on myself for not being able to make sweeping changes in my life. It makes total sense to me. There are small things I can choose to do whether I feel motivated to do them or not. For example, I know I need to drink more water, especially with the meds that I take. But, the thought of drinking eight full glasses of water overwhelms me, and I end up drinking nothing. So, I started with the mini habit of drinking one large full glass of water with my meds first thing in the morning, and I’ve found myself drinking more water throughout the day and enjoying it! I know, it’s not an earth-shattering change, but earth-shattering changes won’t work. Most of us do not have that kind of motivation with or without bipolar disorder.

It only makes sense that our brains have default settings. Those are the settings that our brains default to when we are stressed or things we can do with little to no thought. For example, my default setting for when to eat is when I’m sad, happy, tired, stressed, or when I’m awake! This eating default setting has been a well-worn patterned default in my brain for many years. Unfortunately, unlike being able to go into your computer default settings, make a change and click “save,” we cannot do that with our brains. Instead, if we want to make changes to our default settings, we must make them bit by bit, by starting a mini habit that we can do without one ounce of motivation on our part; a simple thing that can be done by sheer self-willpower.

Discovering these things have become the single greatest key to making change happen in my life.

Your inability to not make sweeping health changes in your life is not a character flaw. It’s called being human!

So, what mini habit can you do by sheer self-willpower that will bring about a simple, healthy change in your life?

 

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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Get Your Thoughts Under Control

Get Your Thoughts Under Control

This is a strange time that we are living in our world right now.  Strange times can bring on strange and unhelpful thought patterns. It’s easy to focus and dwell on these thoughts until they turn obsessive.  There are things we can do to escape from these thought patterns and ease our minds. Consider trying some of the following:

  1. Name the beast.  Describe your fear in one sentence.  This takes away a little of its power.
  2. Find the distortion.  Apply a Cost-Benefit Analysis.  How is believing this costing you, and how is it benefitting you?  If it’s costing you, decide a course of action.
  3. Schedule a time.  Give yourself 15 minutes a day to ruminate and journal all your feelings.  If the thought comes up at another time, say “Sorry, it’s not time for that.”.
  4. Snap out of It.  Wear a rubber band on your wrist and snap yourself when the thoughts turn obsessive to remind yourself to let go.  Or, write your obsession on a piece of paper and throw it away.  
  5. Learn the lesson.  If you are obsessing over a behavior, consider the lesson you’ve learned. Forgive yourself, if necessary.  Move on.
  6. Imagine the worst.  Once you’ve dealt with the worst-case scenario, it’s not worth worrying about.
  7. Dig for the cause.  Often, the obsessions aren’t the real issue.  Maybe there’s something deeper you need to discover.
  8. Tell someone.  They can help you find a solution or tell you it’s ridiculous.  Often, obsessions are based on partial truths.
  9. Interrupt yourself.  If you’re obsessing over something, start thinking about 10 reasons it won’t happen. 
  10. Stay in the present.  Ruminating takes places in the past and future.

 

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

 Philippians 4:8

We pray these tips help you.  Remember, we are all in this together and God is with us!  

© Fresh Hope for Mental Health

 

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