There are a lot of bad things going on. We have natural disasters, civil unrest, economic downturns on the outside, while inside, we have health challenges, relationship strains, and financial losses.
With so much bad news it is easy to say, “What’s the point?” and withdraw from life. But when bad things are happening withdrawing and giving up are some of the worst things we can do. Isolation leads to depression, cynicism, and worsening health. When things are bad, the last thing you need is to get sick.
Studies show isolation leads to changes in brain function. The parts of our brain that control learning, pleasure, and empathy all decrease with isolation (howstuffworks.com, Molly Edmonds, 2010 referencing Science Daily, 2/2009). The other thing that changes with isolation is our immune responses. Isolated rats had a marked increase in tumor growth from such changes (Univ. Chicago Med Cntr, sciencedaily, 9/2009). Also, without consistent human touch our oxytocin levels drop, which affects our sense of connection as well as our immune function.
So what do we do to stay healthy and connected in times like these?
Like so many events in life, the outcome is not so much what we are going through but how we choose to respond to it. I learned an extreme example of this in my psychiatry course in medical school. In 1976, kidnappers high jacked a school bus then buried the driver and 26 children in a container while awaiting ransom. It was horrendous! Thankfully the driver dug his way out, saving everyone and the perps were imprisoned.
Obviously afterwards the children needed therapy while they healed from such a traumatic ordeal. All the children experienced the same event, but their responses were not the same. Some of them processed the event and moved forward. Some took a longer time to process it and moved forward with some long-term problems. A third group did not process what happened and have had life long mental/emotional issues that led to drug addictions and arrests. The same outcomes have been observed with adults who go through traumatic events: different responses to the same event.
One thing I learned from my own childhood traumas is that if I allowed trauma or bad events to become my identity, the effects would stick with me forever. But if I chose to see them as something that happened to me, but did not define me, then I could heal and grow.
Here are some strategies to help you overcome hard times:
- Remind yourself how good God is. He didn’t leave you before; he won’t now.
- Remember all the good things going on in your life.
- Read positive, inspirational stories of overcomers
- Remind yourself of all the struggles you’ve already succeeded in overcoming
- Realize nothing lasts forever
- Get some extra sleep
I encourage you to look at these times and decide to keep trusting, to keep being you, to keep loving, and most importantly, to forgive. Hard times are an opportunity to discover how strong we are and how powerful love is. But we will never know this unless we decide to keep moving forward. Truth is we don’t have a "point of no return." The world keeps spinning. Bad times move on. We heal. We grow. Better days will come.
That's all for this week.
Remember you are priceless & powerful,
Wholeness Living Thought Leader
Wholeness Living Thought Leader