Tag Archives: stress

Mental Health Series Pt. V: Finance.

(Note: I want to begin with a disclaimer that I am very much still figuring things out in this area. However, I’ll leave you with words from the Bible and some thoughts and ideas I’ve gleaned through sermons, readings, conversations…Please feel free to add your thoughts and what you’ve learned in the comments as well!)

Finances are a tremendous source of stress for people all over the world. In fact, I’m sure that if you were to survey people about their biggest sources of stress, finance would be in the top 3 for the majority of people. Finance equates in a big way with our ability to survive and achieve a certain quality of life. It even affects our relationships; one cause of marital discord and divorce is disagreement over finances. As with all aspects of our lives, the lenses with which we view finance is influenced by our faith.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ” Matthew 6:25-33

Jesus tells us clearly that our Heavenly Father is looking out for us. He will provide for us, and we are valuable to Him! We are to place our priorities on the Kingdom of God first. He also warns us that worrying is not productive. Worrying doesn’t take away our troubles or find a solution. Instead of worrying about your situation, pray for solutions!

“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24

Did you know that Jesus was not talking about an actual sewing needle? He was talking about a narrow gate into Jerusalem, which was named “Eye of the Needle.” In order to get through this gate, all of the possessions that a camel was carrying needed to be unloaded. The camel could then get through, but would also need to hunch down and go through very carefully in order to fit. It seems then, that we must rid ourselves of attachment to material possessions. Wealth does not disqualify one from the Kingdom of God. It is what one does with the wealth that makes a difference. I believe that peace will come to our minds and hearts when we stop trying to keep up with others, and we realize that our greatest treasures are not to be found materially. When we learn to find joy in our relationships with God and other people, and find the beauty that surrounds us in our lives, we will be free from much stress.

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“Eye of the Needle Gate, Jerusalem”–Photo from Biblepicturegallery.com

However, we know that we cannot survive without food, shelter, and the other necessities of life. God provides, as we read in the passage from Matthew. Though God provides for us, we cannot simply sit idle and wait. We need to do our part. He has given us many gifts and talents to be used. In certain economies, jobs may not be available in the area you studied or have experience. Learning a new skill and finding a creative way to apply it can be a great way to increase your income. It can also be a good way to lessen your stress level and learn not to rely on one employer. (And sometimes, despite our efforts, God does provide in amazing ways without our expecting it!)

Many times, one’s workplace, boss, or coworkers can negatively affect their mental health. Finding a new job isn’t always feasible. In these cases, a counselor can be helpful in dealing with stress and areas of concern. Finding healthy ways to cope for as long as you are in that environment will be of benefit to you.

One last point: get rid of debt, and stay out. Debt can cause great stress. Depending on one’s level of debt, it can also take much money away from the other needs of life and cause you to be overworked. Dave Ramsey‘s books can be a good place to start in learning more about living debt-free and how to go about the process. Additionally, some loans will also allow you to pay based on income; look into this if you need to.

Takeaway points:

  • Pray for and actively work toward financial solutions. There are many aspects to this. Perhaps you could start with very small investments when you have a little extra money. You could also start carrying a business card and be prepared when networking connections come along. Learning new skills that can lead to more income is another aspect.
  • Curb worrying and turn to prayer instead. Train yourself to turn your worries to prayer.
  • Find healthy ways to deal with workplace stress. A counselor could help you with this. These articles also have some good ideas. Sometimes an environment is toxic, and you will need to find a healthier workplace situation for your mental health.
  • Free yourself from debt, and don’t let yourself get into debt again. When you think about it, debt is actually a form of slavery! Too many people are in debt beyond their means, causing great distress.
  • Learn to find your greatest treasure in God, relationships, and the simple beauties of life.
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Photo by Peter Lloyd on Unsplash

Next up: food and mental health! (It will be the last post in the series!)

Past posts from the series:

Mental Health Series Pt. 1: Relationships

Mental Health Series Pt. II: Counseling

Mental Health Series Pt. III: Faith

Mental Health Series Pt. IV: Higher Education

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Mental Health Series Pt. II: Counseling.

Seeing a counselor can be a great way to move forward if you are struggling in some way. There is often a stigma about going to counseling, as if counseling is something only reserved for “crazy” people. The truth is, we all need help sometimes. Proverbs 11:14 evens tells us “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Think about it: would you make a huge life decision without talking to someone first? Do you talk to friends or elders when you need another perspective? 

A counselor is an objective, outside person. Counselors do work with people battling severe mental illnesses, but they also work with ordinary people trying to make their way through life. Counselors can help you dig deep inside of yourself to discover where lies and pain came in, and figure out how to put the broken pieces back together. They can walk with you as go through any kind of past or present trauma, grief, tragedy, or unexpected life situation. A solid counselor can help you pinpoint where certain behaviors or feelings are coming from (anger, overeating, excessive drinking, etc.) and move forward into more healthy ways of behaving and relating. They can help if you are struggling with depression or anxiety or map out a plan for healthy ways to manage stress.

When you meet with a counselor, you will set goals for yourself. Your counselor will check in with you occasionally about how you are doing on your goals and if there is any way he/she can assist you in meeting them. In this way, you could even think of your counselor as accountability partner as you seek stronger mental health and a better life!

About 80% of people who attend counseling have found benefits in doing so.

A few possible benefits you may find from counseling:

  • Increased insight about self and relationships
  • Stronger relationships
  • Increased confidence
  • Increased hope and positive outlook
  • Lessened feelings of anxiety

I want to tell you to be careful of whom you go to, if you are seeking counseling. There are people who have entered therapy and come out in bad shape due to faulty counseling or incompetent counselors. Also, I encourage Christian counseling! A Christian counselor will look at God’s word and the truth that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. They will not forget the spiritual component of you. Find a counselor you are comfortable with and who you feel actually listens to and hears you. The process is not always easy–it forces you to confront truths about yourself and your past (or present) that may not be pretty. Yet the goal is for healing and wholeness. Counseling holds benefits for many types of people! There is no shame in seeing a counselor if you are struggling with your thought patterns or difficult situations in life, past or present!

Have you gone to counseling and found benefits in dong so? Do you have any questions about counseling?

 Next up: faith and mental health!

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Highlights of 2016

It’s difficult to believe that 2016 is almost over! I feel as if the year was swift, yet when I look back, it’s hard to believe how much happened!

Let’s start with something that will begin in early 2017. My patron for 2016, randomly chosen through the Saint Name Generator, turned out to be significant. It was St. Ignatius of Loyola. I have been a fan of the Examen and Ignatian discernment for a number of years. It turns out that one of his patronages also became important in my life. He’s the patron of educators and education. This year, I really felt the Lord nudging me to go back to school. After an interesting journey, I was accepted to the program of my choice! I will be starting as a part-time grad student for an M.A. in Counseling, as of January!

The year started out rough. Within the first week of the year I was ill. There was a high

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amount of drama at my workplace. It was a struggle. Through it all, I learned to lean on Christ even more. Reading the Scriptures & knowing my Creator through this became more important to me than ever before.

My city had a lot of victories. In June, I went to the parade celebrating our basketball team winning the NBA title! It was really a great celebration and a show of unity for a city that has had many setbacks and much division. The next month we hosted the Republican National Convention-and the candidate won the presidential election! Months later, the baseball team went to the World Series (though we did not win). In God’s eyes, this city is not “The Mistake on the Lake.” He is at work in this city.

I moved in with a roommate. Financially, this was a great decision. Even moreso, it is a benny-cuddle-2blessing to have a companion on the journey & who is also seeking God. She gets the journey. Not long after moving to the new place, a seeming “super-mouse” pushed me over the edge to adopt a cat. Though he did nothing to help with the mouse, he’s brought much laughter. (And praise God–the mouse (mice?) are gone. May they never return to our home.)

 

For the second year in a row, one of my reflections was published in a book! This time, it was a book written by my very own roomie! It’s a raw reflection about a relationship breaking up, but I pray it ministers to someone who may be in a similar situation.

I visited Africa, finally! It’s difficult to put into words how much this experience affected me and the joys it brought. I am so thankful for the miraculous way God brought it about. The whole trip and all His movements on the trip, too, were truly miraculous! I will be forever grateful.forblog

Truly, this was a year of beauty. Thank You, Heavenly Father. I look forward to 2017 and whatever adventures may lie ahead.

Happy New Year’s to all my readers! May our Heavenly Father bless, direct, and strengthen you in all your ways.

“Brothers, I do not consider myself to have embraced it yet. But this one thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.”~Philippians 3:13

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Walking into Rainbows

This week was one of the most trying I have had in a long time. I was in survival mode, at work and at home. I felt out of my element and exhausted, emotionally and physically. The cold and rainy, dark weather did not help my energy level or my mood.

Then came the long-awaited Friday. I made it through the workday, where once again nothing seemed to go successfully. I looked forward to finally going home and take care of personal business that needed to be done, and to unpacking my new place and making it feel like home. I was so drained and questioning many things. Then, I noticed this sight.rainbow-september-30th

I felt clearly the presence of my Father, and His love. The sight of that rainbow, a sign of His promises, gave me so much strength. We think we can’t do it on our own, and it’s true: we can’t! But leaning on God’s grace, we can do it. We can trust His faithfulness and that He is working even through the storms and rain. One day, when you think you simply can’t walk another step, you just might yourself walking into a rainbow.

“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”~Genesis 9:13

“The LORD’S loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”~Lamentations 3:22-23

Simple Ways to Stick Close to God Throughout the Day

I don’t know about you, but some days I feel pulled further and further from God. Frustrating situations, stress, uncertainties, and just plain busyness pull me deeper into myself. It shouldn’t be like that. Each day we have opportunities to come to know God more through the situations we encounter. So, what are a few simple ways to stick close to God throughout the day and keep Him at the center?

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1. Carry your Bible with you. In the waiting room or at the bus stop, get into the Word! It’s amazing how much time we spend waiting each day, or those little snatches of time we don’t realize we have. When others see you carrying a Bible, they too, may be inspired in their relationship with the Lord! 2. Keep a prayer list close by, or in multiple places. This can be a list of general intentions (such as for particular people, situations in your life, or needs in the world) to remember to pray for. It could also be things in your life you want to remember to thank God for. You could put this on a bulletin board, or even on the dash of your car. This is a great way to stay steeped in prayer each day. 3. Wear a religious bracelet or necklace. You will be reminded to turn your mind to God whenever you see your rosary bracelet or adjust your necklace. Other people may comment or ask you, and again you’ll have an opportunity to turn to God. 4. Start or end your day with Mass. Starting the day with the Eucharist will give you strength and peace to carry you through the day. Ending the day with the Eucharist will keep your mind oriented to where you’ll be going after work or school, and also help to settle you after what may have been a trying day. Now, these are very simple ideas, but they are a start. Do you have any other ideas or strategies for keeping God front and center each day?