Pastor Brad Hoefs

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

Mental Health Life Hacks for the Holidays

Mental Health Life Hacks for the Holidays

By Rick Qualls

As a child every Thanksgiving-Christmas holiday I would become sick.

Don’t misunderstand. Mine was a “Leave It To Beaver” childhood. It was an idyllic 1950’s childhood where I was cared for and loved.

I would get so excited I couldn’t contain myself.

There were long trips to visit grandparents we didn’t see often. Sears and Wards offered additional catalogs with large children’s sections of fascinating toys. Wish books we called them. I studied them and marked the pages, so mom and dad wouldn’t miss my favorite requests. And I was an ardent believer in Santa Claus…even after I learned it was Santa Qualls that brought the gifts.

The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year.

Today, as an adult with bipolar, I can still get sick during the holidays.

By the time I became an adult the ugly face of depression cycled into my life. The winter and holidays can now trigger a bipolar-depressive relapse. As the days get shorter and grayer, my spirits began to fall.

Fortunately, recent years have been better because of bipolar life hacks I have discovered. Here are a few:

  • Winter days and holidays are better when I keep my routine. I stay on my medicine. Not taking my medicine regularly will trigger a depressive relapse.
  • Sometimes adjustments are made in my meds as the season starts. I just had a session with my doctor in which an adjustment was made.
  • I have found that sleep difficulties can set off my depression. It does not take many sleep deprived nights to cause major setbacks. I have learned that I function best with nine hours of sleep. Everyone is different, but it is important to know what your sleep cycle needs to be.
  • I trim the Christmas tree but also trim my schedule. Some time ago I learned what is called the Pareto Principle which states that 80% of your reward comes from 20% of your effort. While the percentages may be argued I have learned that about 20% of what I do bring 80% of my satisfaction.
  • So I trim the schedule to make sure things of ultimate importance are done. It allows me to say, “No” to things that take energy I do not have. That helps me to keep my energy balanced.
  • These days my muscles and joints are not flexible, but my attitude is. If one of my grown kids can’t be at home on Christmas or Thanksgiving, I can let that go. I just make a point of enjoying them when they can. This flexibility makes life easier for them from the stress of trying to please other family members.
  • Accepting other family members as they are and not expecting someone’s personality to change makes things smoother. Over-expecting creates pressure for me and everyone else. Everyone needs their emotional space, including me!
  • What about the gray, dreary days? I turn on the sunlight. In my experience, a sunlamp used for Seasonal Affective Disorder helps my bipolar. So if the sun is hiding, the light comes on.
  • I also have learned that the light is best used early in the day. I discovered when using it in the evening it will prevent sleep, even overcoming my sleep meds.

What are your mental health life hacks?

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1Thessalonians 5:11

“Let everything you say be good and helpful so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. “Eph 4:29

What are your mental health life hacks? Share them in the comments. It may make a big difference for someone.

Quails-bio-slide

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.

unnamed

Four Stages of Managing Bipolar Disorder by Rick Qualls

Four Stages of Managing Bipolar Disorder by Rick Qualls

By Pastor Rick Qualls

The beatitudes of Jesus give us the first four phases of living with difficult disease or trauma in our lives.

I was surprised by this insight as I was getting ready to write my book Bright Spots in the Darkness.

The Beatitudes offer a spiritual pathway through tough times.

I do not like having bipolar illness. That is not a surprise. You don’t either. But the paradox is acknowledging our disease is the first phase of living with it.

I have resisted admitting I am bipolar, not just from the first diagnosis but throughout the time living with the disease. At my last med check I tried to convince my doctor that my illness may be the result of an autoimmune problem. I may have an immune problem that mimics the symptoms of bipolar but the probability is pretty low.

But in the meantime, I need to admit my issues with God and with other people, especially the professionals God has brought into my life, those who help me manage my disease.

But I still remember the lowest black hole of depression. I could not get out of that horrendous place without admitting I had a disease and needed help. I needed God, friends, professionals, and family. I learned that the first beatitude was what I needed to do. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God.”

I have grief over my bipolar. Between my illness and meds, I am not the same person I once was. I miss that. I don’t learn as quickly as I once did. I require more time in self-care. I have to be careful of my stress levels, my speech and thinking processes are slowed down.

I don’t like these changes. I wish they would magically go away. But there is no magic wand to wave.

So I had to find another source of self-esteem. True self-esteem comes from being loved by God just as I am. It doesn’t matter what I can do or can’t do, my abilities or disabilities, I am precious to God. He loves us just as we are for which I am grateful.

I am grateful for the comfort of God’s love.

“Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”

The third phase is becoming meek or cooperative with our protocols. We worked with our counseling/medical team to find ways to manage our disease.

We have to be humble enough to go along with our treatment. We take medicines and practice self-care.

But there are times when we get rebellious or simply angry about taking our meds or doing things necessary self-care. We may get proud and resist our protocols. This does not usually turn out well. A manic or depressive episode will disrupt our life. It takes time to undo the damage these bouts that false pride cause.

“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” Matt 5:5. When we are willing to humble ourselves and keep our regimen we experience remission, our new normal. It is as though we have gained a new life. Our world becomes more healthy.

The fourth stage occurs when we actively pursue our healing. This stage is more than doing those things that brought remission. Now we actively seek self-care. We experiment with new ways of getting better.

Our doctor may help us adjust meds for inevitable ups and downs. We become aware of our triggers and develop plans to manage those behaviors. We take on new healthy behaviors. We adjust our attitude by changing thinking patterns. We do the things that we can do to maintain stability. We are quick to seek help when the road is rocky.

This fourth stage is when we hunger and thirst for getting better. With this phase, we find our quality of life gets even better.

The fourth beatitude puts it this way: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6

Sometimes we bounce around in these stages. I do. For a time I will actively seek to work my plan. And then I may become stubborn and resist my meds. My self-care will go down the tubes. And about that time I don’t want to admit to anyone, or myself, that I have a disease.

But when I keep in mind these four principles I discover that God is able to use this process to bless me in spite of having bipolar.

May my experiences bless you along your journey.

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.

shutterstock_60270589

 

Quails-bio-slide

Mental Health Life Hacks for the Holidays

Mental Health Life Hacks for the Holidays

By Rick Qualls

As a child every Thanksgiving-Christmas holiday I would become sick.

Don’t misunderstand. Mine was a “Leave It To Beaver” childhood. It was an idyllic 1950’s childhood where I was cared for and loved.

I would get so excited I couldn’t contain myself.

There were long trips to visit grandparents we didn’t see often. Sears and Wards offered additional catalogs with large children’s sections of fascinating toys. Wish books we called them. I studied them and marked the pages, so mom and dad wouldn’t miss my favorite requests. And I was an ardent believer in Santa Claus…even after I learned it was Santa Qualls that brought the gifts.

The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year.

Today, as an adult with bipolar, I can still get sick during the holidays.

By the time I became an adult the ugly face of depression cycled into my life. The winter and holidays can now trigger a bipolar-depressive relapse. As the days get shorter and grayer, my spirits began to fall.

Fortunately, recent years have been better because of bipolar life hacks I have discovered. Here are a few:

  • Winter days and holidays are better when I keep my routine. I stay on my medicine. Not taking my medicine regularly will trigger a depressive relapse.
  • Sometimes adjustments are made in my meds as the season starts. I just had a session with my doctor in which an adjustment was made.
  • I have found that sleep difficulties can set off my depression. It does not take many sleep deprived nights to cause major setbacks. I have learned that I function best with nine hours of sleep. Everyone is different, but it is important to know what your sleep cycle needs to be.
  • I trim the Christmas tree but also trim my schedule. Some time ago I learned what is called the Pareto Principle which states that 80% of your reward comes from 20% of your effort. While the percentages may be argued I have learned that about 20% of what I do bring 80% of my satisfaction.
  • So I trim the schedule to make sure things of ultimate importance are done. It allows me to say, “No” to things that take energy I do not have. That helps me to keep my energy balanced.
  • These days my muscles and joints are not flexible, but my attitude is. If one of my grown kids can’t be at home on Christmas or Thanksgiving, I can let that go. I just make a point of enjoying them when they can. This flexibility makes life easier for them from the stress of trying to please other family members.
  • Accepting other family members as they are and not expecting someone’s personality to change makes things smoother. Over-expecting creates pressure for me and everyone else. Everyone needs their emotional space, including me!
  • What about the gray, dreary days? I turn on the sunlight. In my experience, a sunlamp used for Seasonal Affective Disorder helps my bipolar. So if the sun is hiding, the light comes on.
  • I also have learned that the light is best used early in the day. I discovered when using it in the evening it will prevent sleep, even overcoming my sleep meds.

What are your mental health life hacks?

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1Thessalonians 5:11

“Let everything you say be good and helpful so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. “Eph 4:29

What are your mental health life hacks? Share them in the comments. It may make a big difference for someone.

Quails-bio-slide

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.

unnamed

A Conversation with Rev. Jermine Alberty

A Conversation with Rev. Jermine Alberty

On this episode of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, Pastor Brad Hoefs talks with Reverend Jermine Alberty, Executive Director of a Ministry called Pathways in the St. Louis area. Join them as they discuss how having faith in God helps people on their journey to recovery from suffering from mental illness, why it’s important for Pastors to tell people in their congregation who have a mental illness to take their medicine, and how to help a person that is in distress.

You will also hear how Jermine Alberty dealt with his son’s suicide attempt. They also cover how to get trained in Mental Health First Aide at mentalhealthfirstaide.org, and why it’s important to overcome trauma you experienced in your life in order to recover from a mental illness. You can check out Jermine Alberty’s website at JermineAlberty.org and his ministry at pathways2promise.org. For another resource for maintaining wellness in Mental Health visit companionshipmovement.org.

To listen to the episode click here!

 

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We encourage you to share this podcast with your friends via your social media connections.

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.

 

 

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.

unnamed

How To Find A Good Christian Mental Health Counselor

How To Find A Good Christian Mental Health Counselor

By

Many people have a difficult time in finding an effective mental health counselor. Just like everything in life, you have your good counselors and you have your not so great counselors. The key is to find one that will help you solve your current mental health problems. If you do not know what you are looking for or where to start, then here are a few ideas in how to find a good mental health counselor.

1. Talk To Your Doctor Or Primary Care Physician Your medical or family doctor is a great source in finding a good counselor. Explain to your doctor your problems and he or she can put you in the right direction in seeking the proper help.

2.Go To Your Local Hospital Your local hospital is another source you can use to find a good counselor. A hospital is also a good source of finding many different mental health programs in your area. Hospitals know a lot of good counselors and programs in your area and they can lead you in the right direction.

3.Ask Your Friends And Relatives Use your network of friends and relatives to see if any of them know of any good counselors in your area. This can be effective if it does not bother you that other people know that you are seeking a counselor. Many churches and nonprofit mental health agencies have a variety of mental health programs and asking the people who run these programs could also lead you in the right direction.

When asking for a counselor or finding a mental health program, always ask for someone who has a good reputation. Remember that finding a counselor to help you depends on how you interact with the counselor and how they interact with you. It may take a couple of times to find the right person, but do not give up. Finding a good counselor will pay off for you in the long run, so be persistent in finding the right person for you.

Remember that the key components of having an effective mental health counselor is affordability, the ability to effectively talk to your counselor, and most importantly, is your counselor able to find the answers to your current problems. If you do not see any improvement in your mental health condition after a couple of months of working with your current counselor, you may want to find someone else. The main point of talking to a counselor is to help manage your mental health issues and to get better.

 

Stans-bio-slide

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.

unnamed

Four Stages of Managing Bipolar Disorder by Rick Qualls

Four Stages of Managing Bipolar Disorder by Rick Qualls

By Pastor Rick Qualls

The beatitudes of Jesus give us the first four phases of living with difficult disease or trauma in our lives.

I was surprised by this insight as I was getting ready to write my book Bright Spots in the Darkness.

The Beatitudes offer a spiritual pathway through tough times.

I do not like having bipolar illness. That is not a surprise. You don’t either. But the paradox is acknowledging our disease is the first phase of living with it.

I have resisted admitting I am bipolar, not just from the first diagnosis but throughout the time living with the disease. At my last med check I tried to convince my doctor that my illness may be the result of an autoimmune problem. I may have an immune problem that mimics the symptoms of bipolar but the probability is pretty low.

But in the meantime, I need to admit my issues with God and with other people, especially the professionals God has brought into my life, those who help me manage my disease.

But I still remember the lowest black hole of depression. I could not get out of that horrendous place without admitting I had a disease and needed help. I needed God, friends, professionals, and family. I learned that the first beatitude was what I needed to do. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God.”

I have grief over my bipolar. Between my illness and meds, I am not the same person I once was. I miss that. I don’t learn as quickly as I once did. I require more time in self-care. I have to be careful of my stress levels, my speech and thinking processes are slowed down.

I don’t like these changes. I wish they would magically go away. But there is no magic wand to wave.

So I had to find another source of self-esteem. True self-esteem comes from being loved by God just as I am. It doesn’t matter what I can do or can’t do, my abilities or disabilities, I am precious to God. He loves us just as we are for which I am grateful.

I am grateful for the comfort of God’s love.

“Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”

The third phase is becoming meek or cooperative with our protocols. We worked with our counseling/medical team to find ways to manage our disease.

We have to be humble enough to go along with our treatment. We take medicines and practice self-care.

But there are times when we get rebellious or simply angry about taking our meds or doing things necessary self-care. We may get proud and resist our protocols. This does not usually turn out well. A manic or depressive episode will disrupt our life. It takes time to undo the damage these bouts that false pride cause.

“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” Matt 5:5. When we are willing to humble ourselves and keep our regimen we experience remission, our new normal. It is as though we have gained a new life. Our world becomes more healthy.

The fourth stage occurs when we actively pursue our healing. This stage is more than doing those things that brought remission. Now we actively seek self-care. We experiment with new ways of getting better.

Our doctor may help us adjust meds for inevitable ups and downs. We become aware of our triggers and develop plans to manage those behaviors. We take on new healthy behaviors. We adjust our attitude by changing thinking patterns. We do the things that we can do to maintain stability. We are quick to seek help when the road is rocky.

This fourth stage is when we hunger and thirst for getting better. With this phase, we find our quality of life gets even better.

The fourth beatitude puts it this way: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6

Sometimes we bounce around in these stages. I do. For a time I will actively seek to work my plan. And then I may become stubborn and resist my meds. My self-care will go down the tubes. And about that time I don’t want to admit to anyone, or myself, that I have a disease.

But when I keep in mind these four principles I discover that God is able to use this process to bless me in spite of having bipolar.

May my experiences bless you along your journey.

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.

shutterstock_60270589

 

Quails-bio-slide

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