Grace Michaelson

Relax. Let God.

Jul
06

This week has been one of those weeks where my emotions have decided to pick up their signs and take to the pick-it line.  I feel drained and frustrated with trying to figure out exactly why I feel so anxious and emotional.  Added to that, after months of really not feeling sick at all, my body has decided to take a hiatus at the funny farm, because none of my doctor’s precious labs that he loves oh so much can explain why I feel oh so sick.

So, am I insane?  Even more of a personal question, have I somehow gone off the radar spiritually?  Am I angry at someone/God?  Am I angry at my situation?  Have I given into depression?  Have I sinned and God is punishing me?  These are all honest thoughts that go through all sincere Christian’s minds when bad things or bad days happen, or just when our emotions decide to go on a rampage.

I have tried to put a substantial concrete reason to why I feel so crappy right now.  I’ve finally realized today, though, that there is no logical reason for it that I can fix.  Sometimes crappy things just happen.  Not because of anything we’ve said, or done, or are going to do.  Not because of anything we can control.  They are just there.  There because, I believe, Satan wants to see if we’re going to give up, curse God, and die! Or are we going to stop trying so much and start trusting God for His answer.  They sound a little similar, just that the “curse God” part is switched for “trust God” and we don’t have to die… at least not yet.

I have to admit, I’m still trying to figure this out.  How do you “try less”.  These emotions are so strong!  How do I fight them?  How do I control them?  It’s so tough when they make me so crabby!  I keep trying to find answers to why I feel this way so that maybe then I can make them go away.  Yet, I realized today that’s not the answer.  The answer is being OK with feeling the feelings.  It’s OK that I feel anxious.  The Bible does say be anxious for nothing, yes.  But, what it means is, when you feel anxious, give it to God.  Don’t fight the anxiety, trying not to feel it.  Just acknowledge it’s presence and then tell God about it.  Then God’s peace comes.  Sometimes you gotta do it over and over and over again throughout the day if you’ve got anxiety like I do.

I know that the hardest thing to fight is the idea of looking dumb.  The symptoms of anxiety can really make you feel dumb and look dumb sometimes.  I hate it when anxiety crops up and the most inopportune time.  I want to look smart and with-it, clever and genuine.  Not fearful and dismayed!  The best thing to do is try less.  Be honest.  Be sincere.  It’s OK to be a little nervous when trying new things.

What if your emotion is not anxiety?  Is it anger? Shame? Fear? Frustration at not being perfect? What is your challenging emotion? Grief?  All these feelings are what America has labeled negative, but what I would like to encourage you to learn to see at positive and OK to feel and accept in yourself as you give them to God a little at a time.  True they can overwhelm you if you ruminate in them, but if you’re feeling them to then pass them onto God, you’re going to be OK.  Don’t squash them down to try and hide them.  God already sees.  Don’t try to control them, they will get too big.  Just try less and give them to God.  Relax.  Let God.

Stick-with-it-ness! (How to hang in there in a new lifestyle change)

Jan
09

First off, let me point out how much easier it is to make a bad habit than it is to make a good habit.  Our brains are hardwired to do the easier thing.  Some call it “sin nature” (that’s me and my faith), some call it laziness, whatever your choice for calling it, it’s just plain easier to make a bad habit.  To make a good habit is much, much harder.  My blog is about trying to empower you to make the choice to make those good choices to get you on a better path, whether you struggle with Depression, Anxiety, and Fibromyalgia like I do, or you just want to start fresh this New Year.

Today I want to give you some information about making a new habit.  First off, I just want to teach you a little about your brain.  Your brain, to dumb it down a whole lot, is kind of like a ball of play dough.  As you give it thought processes, it’s like you are drawing lines in the play dough.  The more you think about one thing, the deeper you draw the line.  Let’s take Chronic pain for instance.  If you go to the doctor you are drawing a line in your brain’s “dough”.  If you talk about your pain with your friends, deeper goes that line.  If you get up in the morning and take a moment to scan your body for pain spots, deeper goes that line.  Do you see how it goes?  But what is the best thing about play dough?  If you mess up what can you do?  Squeeze it together and start over.  Well, obviously we can squeeze our brain together and start over, but there is something our brain is and that is called Neuroplastic.  The Neuroplasticity of the brain allows it to “heal” the neurons we form that have “taught” it that it will “never get better” and teach it a good habit, such as “I can have a good life despite my pain.” Please understand that I am not saying that someone who has chronic pain is not in pain.  Pain is very real and is not “all in your head” like many doctor’s will tell you.  What I’m saying is, that if you allow yourself to form good mental, physical, and spiritual habits, your brain will heal to the point that you can have a happy life despite your chronic pain. Please watch this video below.  It’s a simplified explanation that explains fully what Neuroplasticity is.  Again, this doesn’t solve your chronic disease, what it does is give you a chance to live a good life despite it.

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/tJ93qXXYRpU” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

OK, so now that we’ve gotten through the intellectual portion of why we want to form a good habit, let’s talk about why it’s so hard to keep a good habit and some things we can try to keep our good habits going.  First of all, you need to know that it takes 21 days to form and stick to a good habit.  So, if you give up on day 19, you’re selling yourself short.  A good way to try to keep a habit forming is to have a calendar in your possession, and I’m not talking about a iThingy.  I’m talking about something you can touch, feel, and use a pen or pencil on to scratch off the days.  Choose the good habit your wanting to perform and check off the days.  You will find that after you reach the hump on the 21 days it will slowly get easier and easier to be consistent on doing that which you are trying to do.

So, I just gave you the first key:  Use a calendar to mark off the days on your habit.  That way you can see the success you’re making and not stress on the failure.

Here’s your second tip:  Don’t give yourself 20 habits to form in one 21 day span.  Choose 1.  The one I’m working on this 21 period is organizing my house.  Not just organizing my house, but keeping it organized.  I have people harping on me to exercise, and do my relaxation, and all this other stuff.  I am doing those things, but my primary concentration is on my house, and if the other things fall away, I’m not beating myself up.  One. habit. at. a. time.  This is called moderation.  It’s OK to acknowledge you have 20 things to change, but don’t ruminate over them.  You get to list them once, then put them away in a deep dark place where you don’t get to pick them up again until after you feel you are comfortably handling the habit you have just formed.  Twenty-one days is the minimum needed for a habit to form, for you it may be two months.  Be kind to yourself.  Take it easy.  Simplify yourself and don’t stress.

So the second key for today is:  Moderation

Finally, Be kind to yourself on a Difficult Day, or a Plan B day.  We all have Plan B days.  Those are the days when your illness, or your work, or whatever your “issue” that brought you to my website is driving you the most crazy.  I recommend to everyone to make themselves a Difficult Day Box.  I got this idea from Mayo Clinic when I was there for treatment.  They have their patients make a Difficult Day Box because inside it you put things to encourage you.  Like your favorite quotes, a letter from your favorite person that encouraged you, a $5 gift card to your favorite coffee shop, or whatever you can think of that will help you get through that day.  On that day, do half of what you do on a regular day.  The point is, do something.  Don’t give up.  Don’t stop.  If you give up and give yourself the right to sit on the couch or lay in bed all day, you’ll feel like crap and you’ll give up on your habit.  A give-up day like I just described is a start-over for the entire habit, but a “Plan B” day is just a step back, not a failed habit.  Remember, kindness to yourself is the best attitude.

Final key:  Handle your Plan B days by still doing half of what you normally do.

Now, after you’ve mastered your new habit, and you feel you’re stable and good to go, go ahead and add a habit, but remember the same rules apply.  Don’t be surprised if the first habit take a hit.  Just remember, you did it the first time!  You already have one success under your belt.  You can do it again with two habits.  Simplify, Moderate, and be kind to yourself on “Plan B” days.  You can do this thing!

Here are some good habits I recommend for people dealing with chronic illnesses:

  1. Grow Spiritually
  2. Relaxation Techniques/Diaphragmatic Breathing
  3. Exercise, starting from 5 minutes a day working up to the recommendation your doctor has given you.  Only exercise if your doctor has given you a go ahead.
  4. Good Hygiene
  5. Good Sleep Hygiene
  6. Drinking 1/2 your weight in water.  If you want to drink something else, fine, but don’t include it in your water intake.
  7. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Counseling
  8. Talk to your doctor about medication interactions
  9. Avoid refined sugar
  10. Avoid Caffeine/Alcohol/Nicotine
  11. Find yourself a “Quiet Room” to retreat to on a “Plan B” day
  12. Make a “Difficult Day Box”

Anxiety and God’s Peace

Nov
16

As I have shared in many of my posts, I have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is not something that I fool around with. I hate the feeling completely. It’s an out-of-control feeling in the pit of my throat and upper chest that tells me that I am deeply, deeply afraid of where I find myself and what my circumstances are. My heart beats above 100 beats a minute resting and I have to take extra breaths or my head will start to spin and I will feel like I’m going to faint. My hands tremble and I can see “those looks” coming from people around me because I look anything but normal when I’m fighting panic. Have any of you tried to pretend you are perfectly OK while fighting back waves upon waves of panic for no reason at all? This is just part of what it’s like to live with an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety is a very read disorder. It’s not something you should deny or “just live with” or try to spiritualize and blow off. So what I’m going to share, though it may seem like I’m “blowing off anxiety”, I want to forward with a warning. If you haven’t sought help and gotten the physical part of your anxiety disorder dealt with, this post is not for you. This post is for people who have dealt with the physical aspect of their anxiety-are on medication that is replacing the hormones their body can not make on its own, or are taking medication to suppress the hormones they are making too much of.

After you have that medication on board, it’s time to deal with the bad habits your left with as a result of your brain having been broken (having too little or too much of the hormones that caused your panic/anxiety disorder.) All of us are left with residual effects, no matter what your mental illness might be. That is why it’s so important to add counseling, spiritual growth, and exercise to your regimen of healing.

So, lately my life has been very stressful. I have been very ill and one of my children has been very ill. We are both headed to Mayo tomorrow, in fact, to get checked out and hopefully diagnosed. This has caused some of my bad habits in the anxiety disorder to rear their ugly head. So I took some steps:

I immediately informed my psychiatrist that I was having trouble with my anxiety again. He was able to adjust some of my PRN meds to be able to get me through the next couple of weeks that will be stressful.
2. I decided to take steps in my spiritual walk. I found verses to encourage me that talked about walking in obedience to the Lord in regards to anxiety. I want to share with you some of the verses so that you can be encouraged, too. Philippians 4:4-8, Psalm 139:23-24, 1 Peter 5:6-7, John 16:33, Philippians 4:11-13.

The biggest thing I have learned about anxiety is that it can be beat by obedience to Christ and prayer. Pretty much all those verses above are either talking about casting your anxiety on Christ, or are about someone praying and casting their anxiety on Christ. That is where we must obey. We must cast our anxiety on Christ in obedience and ask him to replace that anxiety with His Peace as we pray and thank him for His answers in regards to what we were afraid about.

We can be set free from being victims to our fears. We can be victorious.