Thursday, March 3, 2011
Zion, March 3, 2011
Beware of the RAT RACE II.
I am not an expert on these issues of stress management, for like many others I am also infirm and often a victim of my own mischief. Yet by being quick to observe and speedily recognizing my own weaknesses and repenting with much prayer and supplication for deliverance and strength, the Lord is kind and he time and again guides me to find a ways to cope with all sorts of adversities.
Some of my physical and mental adversities tribulations are of my own making as a result of sin, some are by the pressures of the world around me and some that are inflicted by snares, substances, forces, conspiracies and even machinations of evil entities that I am not always conscious our aware of their devilish or macabre plotting. Nevertheless, some good works can also cause stress and anxiety, but the way the Lord intended for us to cope and manage our adversities and tribulations is different that what we think. For the Lord’s ways are high above our ways like unto the distance from the earth to heaven, and our thoughts are not his though. And often what is bright light to us for him is gross darkness. For thus saith the Lord:
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
¶ For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
(Old Testament Isaiah 55:6 - 11)
It is also written that: If we knock, that it shall be opened unto us; and that if we ask that we shall receive and also that if wee seeks diligently that we shall find. So after knocking a few things, by asking and by seeking I have found a couple of impressive articles that at the end of this journey I would like to share with anyone that is having difficulties coping with the heavy and tumultuous demands of contemporary life. However, first things are first; and the first order of business here is that in times of need or uncertainty, it is always prudent to ask of God in the name of his Son Jesus Christ for proper instructions. For of this the truth bearing Apostle James wrote for each and all of us saying:
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
(New Testament James 1:5 - 8)
This simple experiment stated above enabled the Prophet Joseph Smith open the heavens to us all and to dissipate the gross darkness of nearly two millennia of apostasy from the earth. And the prophet’s prayer also enabled us to shred the gross darkness that is engulfed in the minds of people. And this basic experiment of asking wisdom from God with real intent also enabled him for the whole world, if they will; to receive both the earlier and the later rain like no other man, excepting the Lord Jesus the Christ had done before. It is only a sad and shameful for the raising generations that a great many people have to give heed to the truth, or the knowledge of things as they are, things as they have been and things as they are to come, only when the scientific community discovers that what God had the prophet had said by prayer and faith over a century and a half earlier is the proper path to follow.
But before I go any further, I would like to highlight and reaffirm the full cores of the issues behind most of the psychosomatic effects that result in stress, anxiety, depression and even physical illnesses and the many deteriorative diseases that are nowadays plaguing our lives. And that the Lord in loving kindness has warned and forewarned us by way of greetings of these things and/or perils ever since the world begun and of the things that will shortly come to pass and also the things that will transpire until the very end thereof. These words are in accordance with the written word of wisdom given by our God to his high ministers and administrators. And what is good for them must forcefully or necessarily be good for us also, for it was send to all that will give heed unto it and which says this:
A WORD OF WISDOM, for the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion—
To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days— Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.
Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—
That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him. And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.
And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies. And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill. And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.
And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving. Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth; And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger. All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground— Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.
And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.
(Doctrine and Covenants Section 89:1 - 21)
But the voice of gladness does not end there, for they are complimented by other revelations of the same holy source given over one hundred and eighty years ago through the prophet Joseph Smith for our temporal salvation and which perhaps the world is now ready to receive whole heartedly if it is that they desire to be healed. For these, the things noted above and also below are things that we ought to observe and to remember in order to maximize our ability to function fit for duty or as intended in the brotherhood, in the community and in the Land the Lord has given us and our fathers for our everlasting inheritance. And this has to do with the way we loose, waste or drain unnecessarily our physical strength and spiritual energy even in our daily conversations, thoughts; and in our associations and interactions. And with regards to this the Lord has said to his people and what he says unto one he says unto all.
Therefore, cease from all your light speeches, from all laughter, from all your lustful desires, from all your pride and light-mindedness, and from all your wicked doings. Appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege. See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires.
Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated. And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace. Pray always, that ye may not faint, until I come. Behold, and lo, I will come quickly, and receive you unto myself. Amen.
(Doctrine and Covenants Section 88:121 - 126)
And last but not least, it would be important for us to know and remember that with regards to our church callings, our family responsibilities, our school expectations and our community or civic duties, it is not required for us to run or to labor more than what our strengths permit us. All that is required is that we are diligent and endure to the end to win the price we so much desire.
And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.
(Book of Mormon Mosiah 4:27)
For is not is true that despite all of our anxieties and our worries and brawling and contentions we cannot make one hair of our head white or we cannot add one inch in our growth if it is not the will of our God, which is in heaven? For of this it is also written:
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
(New Testament Matthew 6:24 - 34)
The reason this work emerged; was researched and also prepared as such was because of a most recent report made manifest today over the written press and/or news networks stating that many youth at school, as well as professional and vocational adults may be running a race to no where in their every day life endeavors. And having three kids in school I would like to be part of the solution by extending a hand of support to the community near and far. I, not being the only one, became also concerned and decided to investigate the matter farther to be able to offer a portion of the solution for the physical welfare and the mental well being of all those concerned even to the ends of the earth. This I do with the aid of God hoping to offer them that are running to and fro, heavy laden and labored a safe channel and an sure anchor where that can find healing from their afflictions and rest from their labors. And be it known that there is plenty of balm in Gilead for our need and afflictions; and that this is not my work but the work of he whom I serve, even the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one who sent me as a witness to the people. It is He who invites all everywhere to come unto him saying:
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
(New Testament Matthew 11:28 - 30)
Not only The Lord said that in his mortal ministry; but he is the same God that said this also to our forefathers and also to us nowadays saying:
HO, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.
(Old Testament Isaiah 55:1 - 4)
If our senses are not exercised enough to bear, absorbe, endure or understand all the aforementioned things; or if you are not the religious type of person, worry not for nobody under heaven is perfect. Perhaps by reading and meditating about the following scientific findings will give you now as it was then precise portion of wisdom you need to cope with these vicissitudes of contemporary life. Hopefully you will feel as humble as I feel today by knowing that there is God in heaven that cares for us and still does attend and succor us as he did with our ancient fathers directly, by his servant the prophets and by educated entities that have researched these matters with a scrutinizing eye. These things I humbly say with proper authority in the Holy name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Attentively Yours, an unworthy servant in the hands of Christ.
Miguel Anegel Tinoco ROdriguez
Stress from a LDS Perspective
By Rachel Bruner
When Life Is Getting You Down
By Val D. MacMurray, Ph.D.
Val D. MacMurray, “When Life Is Getting You Down,” Ensign, June 1984, 56
There’s a headache beginning at the back of your skull. You feel cramped, pressured, smothered. You find yourself trying to take a deeper breath. Your neck feels stiff. Your stomach churns fiercely. You notice that you don’t feel good, but you’re not sure what’s wrong. After all, you’re just waiting for a red light on your way home from work. “Hard day at work,” you think. “Be glad to get home.” Then you try to ignore the discomfort, hoping it will go away.
What you’re probably feeling is a stress reaction. It’s built into our Monday-through-Sunday lives: too much to do, not enough time, too many people making demands, too much noise, too many late nights, not enough exercise, too much junk food. All of these stressors, as they’re called, can cause stress. Stress can come from both psychological and physical sources. In turn, it can affect both the mind and the body. And when it gets out of control, depression can follow.
Myths about Stress
One of our most important challenges in staying mentally and physically healthy is learning how to manage stress. Notice I said manage, not eliminate. It’s unrealistic, perhaps even unwise, to think that the ideal condition is a stress-free one. The need to complete a task, to be at a certain place by a certain time, to meet the expectations of other people, and to satisfy our own internal drives to achieve all help keep us moving. Actually, I wonder how much we would progress if we did not experience some stress.
The idea that all stress is bad and should be avoided is only one of the myths of stress. Another myth goes to the other extreme: “Stress is unavoidable, so why try?” The truth is really somewhere in between. The most intelligent way of managing stress is to take a look at your life and plan to reduce or eliminate unnecessary stress.
Take noise, for example, a potent and persistent stressor. Children in schools where they regularly hear jets passing overhead can’t pay attention, solve math problems, or work puzzles as well as children in quieter classrooms. With this in mind, assess this common predinner scene: Children are playing noisily in front of the turned-up-loud television. The washing machine is churning away in the laundry room. And the weather report on the kitchen radio is in competition with the tinging of the oven timer and the roar of the mixer.
It’s not difficult to see that noise alone can create stress, not to mention the fact that all those machines and people are demanding some kind of attention. By simply eliminating optional noises—the radio, the television, the washing machine and dishwasher—you can automatically lower the stress level and some of the feelings of irritation that naturally result. So, although stress is not all bad, we can and ought to reduce it.
Other Common Myths Include These:
1. “If I have no symptoms of stress, I have no stress.” There are times—indeed many times—when we are not under stress. In fact, many people do live a near stress-free life. But sometimes individuals consciously or unconsciously cover up symptoms of stress so they won’t have to face the problem causing the stress. Covering up or ignoring symptoms does not eliminate stress. And, over a long period of time, ignoring or mismanaging stress can create interpersonal problems, as well as contribute directly to a variety of physical ills—heart disease, lung cancer, emphysema, accidental injuries, and cirrhosis of the liver, to name a few.
2. “If my stress symptoms are minor, I don’t need to worry.” The very best time to deal with stress is in its early stages.
3. “I need to learn the newest, most popular stress-management techniques.” Most of us do need to learn skills to control our stress. But each person is different. Relaxation techniques may be the ideal way to manage stress for me, but you might get the same results by simply changing your sleeping pattern.
Sources of Stress
Stress attacks us from many sources. One type of stress is caused by something in our situation. Feeling crowded, for example, can cause the body to automatically tense up, preparing us to either flee the situation or fight back. Boredom, loud music, extremes of heat and cold, fluorescent lights, badly designed work areas or machines, waiting (anything from sitting in a traffic jam to being a prisoner in a cell), and social conflicts (at work, at school, or in the home)—all create situational stress.
Oddly enough, even our clothing can create stress. A woman who wears high-heeled shoes throws her body forward in a way that stresses her spine and muscles, and she is constantly trying to keep her balance, even if she is so used to it that she doesn’t notice. The man wearing very tight jeans cannot breathe from his diaphragm, but must breathe from his chest instead. Because he can never take a deep enough breath to get the oxygen he needs, he starts to feel “smothered.” In extreme cases, he may experience an anxiety reaction in which his body calls for more oxygen—he feels short of breath, he pants, his heart beats faster. And his anxiety spirals.
Our Own Behavior
A second source of stress—probably the most common, but also the easiest to control—is our own behavior. When we fail to plan our time, for example, we find ourselves living in a constant state of emergency. This is a stressful way to live. A crisis life-style makes us feel pressed and out of control, as if too much is expected of us. Often the problem is not our situation (too much to do) but our own behavior (failure to plan).
Even more basic behaviors can cause stress—the way we eat, sleep, and exercise, for example. We all have bodies designed with muscles that want work. Yet many of us give our large muscles virtually no work to do, making them susceptible to spasms and cramps. Our eating habits can also create problems with stress. The body needs regular mealtimes so that it knows when to expect times of high blood sugar (just after we’ve eaten) and low periods (before meals). When we don’t eat regularly, the body can get its blood sugar only by releasing glycogen from the liver. This is the same chemical response that prepares our bodies for a fight.
Our bodies cause other kinds of stress, too. Naturally, injury and illness cause stress. But so do the physical changes we experience in adolescence and aging.
Stress and Depression
Probably you’ve already identified several sources of stress in your own life. The connection between feeling pushed and out of control and feeling depressed is pretty clear. When we aren’t in control of our lives, we usually don’t meet our own expectations. When this happens, it’s easy to get discouraged. When this discouragement lingers, and becomes a generalized feeling of hopelessness, we label ourselves “depressed.” “Why can’t I be a more patient father?” “I’m not a very productive employee.” “I don’t have any will power.”
At times, we need to take a close look at our expectations of ourselves and those around us. Simply recognizing our limits, along with curbing the influence of unnecessary stress, can keep us from falling into—and help us climb out of—many forms of depression.
While most of us have some good days and some not-so-good ones, chronic depression can be a debilitating problem that merits professional attention. The signs of chronic depression, which may be persistent and severe, include serious disturbances in concentrating, sleeping, eating, sexual functioning, and ordinary activity. If these kinds of symptoms persist, expert medical care and possibly psychological assistance may be in order. A first step in dealing with these concerns may be to consult your family doctor or a professional therapist. (See Ensign, Jan. 1983, p. 21.)
Chronic depression can also be caused by chemical imbalances in the body. This kind of depression does not respond to willpower, positive thinking, or stress management techniques. The causes of biological depression involve alterations in the brain neurotransmitter (messenger) chemicals. Changes in these brain chemicals can actually alter one’s mood, thinking, and behavior.
Dr. Dan Christensen, a consulting psychiatrist at LDS Social Services, agrees:
“Several observations support the diagnosis of a chemical component to depression. One of these is genetic: biological depression occurs more commonly along family lines. And the symptoms that accompany this depression usually include sleep disturbance, appetite disturbance, low energy, low sexual drive, difficulty concentrating, and a pattern where the depression is worse in the morning and seems to improve as the day goes on. Depression which occurs without any apparent cause, or which occurs regularly at certain times of the year, or which is interspersed with overly high moods may also have some chemical cause. It is important to recognize the chemical component in this type of depression because it is best treated with medication and psychological assistance.”
Some women experience another type of emotional disturbance during the last half of the menstrual cycle. This problem, called Premenstrual Syndrome, may cause depression and a variety of other physical and emotional symptoms. This disturbing and painful problem has its basis in body chemistry. The woman who suffers from it may be feeling guilty without cause. If you regularly experience serious premenstrual distress, seek medical attention.
If your bad days seem to be gaining on your good days, leaving you discouraged and unable to attempt constructive changes, you can probably benefit by learning to manage stress more effectively. Here are some ideas:
1. Evaluate your expectations of yourself. Do you just accept society’s expectations without examining them? If you do, you probably feel pressured and frustrated. Most modern societies value economic success very highly, and sometimes that set of values conflicts with other values you may have adopted. You can gain control of the stress on you by thoughtfully and prayerfully evaluating your society’s expectations and abandoning those that are unrealistic or don’t fit the gospel’s basic value system. Seeking the Lord’s approval of your life and its direction relieves some of the stress associated with living in a highly competitive world.
2. Seek help from spiritual and ecclesiastical leaders. President Spencer W. Kimball suggested to the Saints in Idaho following the Teton Dam disaster in June 1976 that they seek priesthood blessings. He also suggested keeping family routines normal. “Never forget your family prayers night and morning,” he said. “Never forget to bless the food.” His counsel to seek priesthood blessings and pray regularly can apply to most times of stress.
3. Organize your day so that there is some pacing rather than just a high-powered processing of one task after another. Meals are natural pace changers. In addition to the body’s need for regular food, you need to take the time to get off your feet, chew your food thoroughly and, if possible, have a pleasant conversation with someone at the same time.
4. Consciously cultivate a sense of humor. Laughter is not only a great mood-changer, it also actually relaxes muscles very effectively because it makes them contract tightly during the act of laughing.
5. Learn some relaxation techniques. If you fall asleep tense and exhausted, you may stay tense during sleep, sleep restlessly, and wake not feeling rested. Relax by simply concentrating on one group of muscles—your feet, for instance. Tense them and hold it for a couple of seconds, then relax them completely. Then go on to your leg muscles, and so on, all over your body. Pay particular attention to your neck and shoulder muscles since they get particular strain during the day. Also pay attention to the muscles around your mouth and in your forehead where tension can lurk even after you think you’re relaxed. Doing this consistently once or twice a day and before bedtime will help you notice quickly when you are feeling tense and head off serious tension.
Sometimes it helps to deliberately associate relaxation with some pleasant image—a childhood spot where you felt safe and secure, floating lazily on a rubber mattress on a calm lake, the rhythm of an ocean pounding on the shore, or the gentleness of falling snow. When you think of settings where you feel secure, warm, and relaxed, your muscles will get the message.
6. Get some exercise every day, whether it’s walking, cycling, swimming, or a few minutes of strenuous calisthenics. The purpose is to let your body work hard enough to cause perspiration, then to relax.
7. Seek close friendships and learn to communicate your feelings. The idea is not just to “let off steam,” but to help you put your problems in perspective by sharing yourself with a close and trusted friend. Talking with someone else is also a good way to avoid pretending that you aren’t having any problems, all the while the tension is building.
8. Incorporate some deeply fulfilling elements into your day. Prayer and reading the scriptures are two of the most consistent and most important for me. I always come away from them feeling refreshed and renewed. Add to this practice another fulfilling element—perhaps spending time with a person who needs your service, tidying up a desk drawer, reading a good book, or listening to good music.
9. Take charge of your time to avoid a crisis lifestyle. One way to do this is to coordinate your schedule with your family’s. If six of you will be leaving for meetings at fifteen-minute intervals Tuesday night, you probably shouldn’t count on getting any yard work done. And soup and sandwiches might be the least exasperating kind of meal.
Another key is to set priorities so that you don’t try to do everything at once. This can be hard when we feel we need to meet all of the demands on us. Here are some questions I ask myself when I feel too many obligations squeezing me into a tight corner:
What are the consequences of not doing this task? If the consequences are disappointing a child or causing serious problems for colleagues, then the task is probably fairly important. However, if the main concern is “What will people think if I come to work with the car all dusty like this?” it’s pretty obvious that the consequences aren’t too serious.
Why do I feel obligated to do this? We often feel obligated to do something because someone else does it or expects us to do it. If your mother always baked a cake for family home evening, you may feel negligent if you don’t do the same. But your mother’s way of doing something does not need to be your own.
Could someone else do this? Delegating tasks allows someone else to grow. If you hang onto a task just because you think no one else would do it quite as well, consider that your ego needs may be keeping you overworked.
Do I have to do this task now? Doing it later or combining it with another task may be an option.
Could I have avoided this time pressure by planning differently? Asking this question can help you take control of your future.
Remember, stress can have good effects; it is probably necessary for our continued growth. I believe that learning to manage stress, rather than becoming its victim, is one of our important assignments during mortality, for we will never again experience time and physical limitations in quite the same way. And just keeping that in mind helps me keep stress under control!
Signs That You Are Managing Stress
• Tolerance of others
• The ability to finish tasks efficiently, take responsibility, handle frustrations and difficulties, and work under authority.
• The ability to adapt to changes
• A sense of belonging
• The ability to show friendliness and love
• A sense of self-reliance and independence
• A sense of humor
• An ability to eat, sleep, and relax naturally.
Let’s Talk about It
After reading “When Life is Getting You Down,” individually or as a family, you may want to discuss the following questions and ideas.
1. What is the relationship between stress and depression?
2. What are the various kinds of depression mentioned in the article, and what kinds of treatment do they require?
3. The author says that not all stress is bad. What other “myths” about stress does he discuss?
4. Several sources of stress are mentioned in this article. Identify the sources of stress you may feel. What can you do to better manage the stress? What resources are available to you ?
Gospel topics: attitude, stress