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Tag Archives: stress

Overcoming a Nervous Breakdown

The definition of a nervous breakdown is a period of mental illness resulting from severe depression, stress, or anxiety. This condition manifests itself primarily as severe stress-induced depression, anxiety or dissociation in a previously functioning individual. If these symptoms continue without any sort of intervention, the afflicted are no longer able to function on a day-to-day basis until this disorder is cured.  During a long cross country practice in high school, I had my own breakdown while running up a hill.

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done and how he had slain all the prophets [of Baal] with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow. Then he was afraid and arose and went for his life and came to Beersheba of Judah [over eighty miles, and out of Jezebel’s realm] and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a lone broom or juniper tree and asked that he might die. He said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers, 1 Kings 19:1-4.

A mental breakdown is defined by its temporary nature, often closely tied to psychological burnout, severe overwork, sleep deprivation and similar stressors. In the passage above, an Old Testament prophet wasn’t prepared for the revenge sought by Queen Jezebel. After defeating the prophets of Asherah and Baal on Mount Carmel, Elijah may have become over confident, 1 Kings 18:38-40. If I successfully called fire to come down from heaven following a prayer like Elijah, I would feel invincible.

As he lay asleep under the broom or juniper tree, behold, an angel touched him and said to him, Arise and eat. He looked, and behold, there was a cake baked on the coals, and a bottle of water at his head. And he ate and drank and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came the second time and touched him and said, Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you. So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and nights to Horeb, the mount of God, 1 Kings 19:5-8.

Unfortunately, only God knows the future. Thus, when your suffer a surprising defeat, shocking failure or a humiliating lose, it takes time to recover. If a life is lost or a job terminated, the recovery time is often extended to months and years to feel normal again. This is when you need to retreat like Elijah to quiet place, to be still before God, 1 Kings 19:11-13. While the healing process will vary, this is the first step toward overcoming a nervous breakdown.

by Jay Mankus

When a Joy Ride is Interrupted by Stress

The term joy is found over 150 times in the Bible. When you add similar expressions such as “joyful” and “joyous”, joy is mentioned over 200 times. While the phrase joyride refers to a ride taken for pleasure, usually in an automobile, a New York City judge derived this term in the context of stealing cars or reckless driving. Nonetheless, when a joyous occasion rejuvenates your soul, lives glide through days with a positive mindset.

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice! Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon].Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. Philippians 4:4-6.

Unfortunately, moments of joy are often rudely interrupted by stress and worry. There are 40 different passages in the Bible that address the topic of stress and hard times. Meanwhile, worry is used 38 times in the Bible. One of the greatest examples of a joy ride being interrupted by stress is found in Matthew 16. Peter goes from being praised by Jesus in verses 17 and 18 to being rebuked moments later in Matthew 16:22, “get behind me Satan.”

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them], Philippians 4:7-8.

During a letter written to Christians in Philippi, the apostle Paul felt the need to encourage those overwhelmed by stress and worry. Instead of allowing the enemy to ruin your days of joy, Paul provide advice to stay positive. When you can’t find anything in your life to be thankful for, rejoice in the Lord. Pray for a forbearing spirit so that anxiety, uncontrollable circumstances and stress will roll off your back. The next time your joy is interrupted, let the peace of Christ settle you down.

by Jay Mankus

Whispers of Hope

If your voice tends to dominate or over power conversations, your ears will have a hard time hearing the whispers of others.  Breaths, murmurs and subtle tones will be drown out, oblivious to talkative souls.  Meanwhile, the down trodden, hurting and hopeless can become skeptical to any sort of good news.  Jaded hearts turn to sarcasm, laughing at any glimpses of hope.  Regardless of where you may be on this spectrum, a growing number of individuals ignore daily whispers of hope.

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you, Psalm 39:7.

Like any distressed soul, its not uncommon to want to find someone who will listen to your frustrations.  Whether this is a co-worker, friend or neighbor, venting has a way of releasing any built up tension within you.  After sessions of complaining, ranting and unloading the stress weighing you down, periods of relief can be temporarily found.  In the Old Testament, David discovered a way to embrace whispers of hope.  Although living as a shepherd can be lonely, with few interaction with people, God is only a prayer away.  Thus, pouring our his heart to the Lord became a daily practice, waiting for his life to change for the better.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope, Romans 15:4.

The apostle Paul takes David’s concept to a new level in the passage above.  While praying enables individuals to cry out to God, reading the God allows the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart through whispers of hope.  Whenever Paul was depressed, discouraged or frustrated, reading the Old Testament provided encouragement and the inspiration to endure.  Since modern readers have the luxury of a completed Bible, the Old and New Testaments, studying the Bible is the best way to hear whispers of hope.  May this blog inspire you to live out Romans 10:17 as faith comes from listening and reading God’s Word.

by Jay Mankus

Going to the Dump

Every  summer I was exposed to a local dump in Maine.  Since our cabin did not have garbage pick up, guests were expected to take all their trash to be disposed of at the county recycling center.  The smell of the bags in the August heat was fowl, but this was all part of the complete experience of going to the dump.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, Matthew 11:28.

While addressing the masses one day, Jesus refers to a different kind of dump.  The context of this discussion is based upon individuals carrying around baggage.  Whether its depression, stress or worry Jesus doesn’t want people to go through life alone.  Rather, when trash in life begins to pile up, drop to your knees to unload the garbage you have collected.

And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it, Ecclesiastes 12:7.

The world proclaims he who dies with the most toys wins.  Yet, when people pass away your body will eventually become dust.  Thus, our bodies are on loan from God.  The Holy Spirit is the source of life for human souls.   The opposing force known as the sinful nature wages war by bombarding minds with trash from life.  To combat this weapon used by the Devil, go to the dump daily to unload worries in prayer which God replaces with rest.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Reruns, Rewind and Revive

The summer tends to be a season for reruns.  As students and teachers take a break until the fall semester begins, there is time for late night binge watching.  While most use On Demand, Netflix or DVR’ed programs, the older generation still rely on television guides to plan their viewing pleasures.  Classic movies have a way of grabbing your attention.  Although you know the story, desires from within carry you away for hours at a time as a distraction from the stress and worries in life.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, Philippians 2:3.

For those of you who don’t spend much time watching television, perhaps you prefer reflection.  Either during a jog, walk or while doing yard work, its nice to rewind, taking an inventory of where you’ve been, where you are or where you want to go.  This practice is like setting goals in your mind, providing direction for the future.  One of the things I enjoy pondering about are those things in life which bring me the most joy.  Listening to music, playing sports, writing and working on projects around the house fill me with a sense of accomplish along with purpose and meaning in life.

Not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others, Philippians 2:4.

One of the final activities I engage in involves food for the soul.  Beyond a dose of daily Bible reading and prayer, hearts and minds need to be revived and refreshed to make it in life.  Thus, I have days where I soak in music while I rest.  Sometime I find a book on a topic that interests me, giving me a broader perspective on life.  Although I waste just as much time as the average American lounging around on a couch or sofa, I experience peace that surpasses understanding when I rewind my direction and revive my soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Excel or Exhale?

If you follow youth sports, it seems like the competition intensifies year after year.  Whether its AAU, All-Stars, sports camps or travel ball teams, parents with athletes are spending thousands of dollars annually hoping for a college scholarship.  For those who excel, rising like the cream of a crop, dreams of a professional career may be in their future.

If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell, Matthew 5:29.

Meanwhile, the laid back take a completely different approach.  Though some of these individuals may have aspirations for greatness, to avoid stress a deep breathe usually calms any nerves that arise.  Nonetheless, you can’t teach motivation.  Thus, children who possess this characteristic are on their own, relying on their own desire, the Lord or will for the final outcome.

And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell, Matthew 5:30.

Unfortunately, the most talented often get side-tracked on the way to the top.  If you don’t believe me, just scan the internet for articles on star athletes arrested, kicked off a team or suspended due to breaking the law or team rules.  Jesus provides advice for anyone who wants to be the best they can be in his sermon on the Mount.  Therefore, whatever goals you have in this life, be diligent in purging your life from anything that may end your dreams.

by Jay Mankus

R and R

R & R is a military phrase made popular by the 1970 television series MASH.  This abbreviation is slang for rest and recuperation.  In the show, nurses and surgeons would receive weekend passes throughout the year, usually spending time relaxing and recreating.  This break from the stress of life provided individuals a chance to unwind, before returning back to work.

For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works, Hebrews 4:4.

Perhaps, its time for busy Americans to apply this biblical principle.  Although, its hard to imagine the Creator of life needing to rest, God created the Sabbath for us.  In His infinite wisdom, the Lord knew the wear and tear a week takes on individuals.  Thus, the soul needs a break, to refuel on fellowship, prayer and worship.  Without taking a day to recharge, people will eventually, crash from sheer exhaustion.

For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish, Jeremiah 31:25.

One day, Jesus was disappointed by the lack of faith in those places where he performed miracles.  After lashing out at those who failed to believe, Jesus makes a plea to those in the audience who were hurting, tired or weary.  Within Matthew 11:28-30, the Lord lays out a blue print for finding rest.  First, don’t be ashamed to come to Jesus with your excess baggage.  Second, let go of your burdens, by laying them upon the altar of grace.  Finally, lean on the Holy Spirit to revive your soul.  In this, I pray that you will experience R & R.

by Jay Mankus

 

Regaining Strength

The Boy in the Plastic Bubble was a 1976 television special based upon a true story of two boys who lacked an effective immune system, forced to live in a controlled environment.   Those living outside this bubble may contract mono, draining people of their energy, sleeping up to 18 hours a day until their health is restored.  While healing time varies, its important to take time away from your normal routine for regaining strength.

And after taking some food, Saul regained his strength, Acts 9:19a.

Poor eating habits, stress and long work hours can take a toll on human bodies, leading to other illnesses.  Unfortunately, those stricken with cancer are often forced to endure chemotherapy if they want to survive.  Add in the loss of hair and this disease can suck the will to live out of normally positive people.  Recent clinics based by dietary advances have been successful in curing forms of cancer, yet some individuals are unable to digest the food necessary to live another day.

So Elijah got up and ate and drank.  Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God, 1 Kings 19:8.

Invisible to doctors, depression can also attack healthy people.  Loss of appetite is a common sign.  In the case of Elijah, he let the circumstances of life overwhelm him.  Each day without food, Elijah became weaker.  However, an angelic encounter snaps him out of this funk.  Therefore, if you are burdened by stress or worry, set time aside to eat and sleep so that one day soon strength will be regained.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Resting in Hope

Fifty years ago, most families consisted of a husband, wife and children.  In those days, moms stayed at home, taking care of the kids while the father was usually the main bread winner.  Over the last half century, this sight is rare, like a species of animals on the verge of extinction.  Subsequently, adults are now working nights, weekends or two jobs just to keep up with their monthly bills.  The idea of resting in hope is a fantasy for many tired souls.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, Acts 2:26.

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter was filled with peace.  Looking back on the last few months, the hand of God on Jesus’ life, death and resurrection began to make sense.  This clarity boosted the spirits of the disciples.  Despite Jesus’ absence following his ascension into heaven, a metamorphosis was ongoing in the hearts and minds of God’s people.  Peter attributes this reformation due to resting in hope.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all, 2 Thessalonians 3:16.

Stress has an opposite effect on individuals, leading to restless nights.  A by product of stress, worry induces doubt, causing minds to wonder if things will ever improve.  This is where I am from time to time, struggling to remain optimistic.  Nonetheless, when I reach low points in life, I am reminded of the promises in the Bible.  The more I hear and read these words, I begin to rest in hope.

by Jay Mankus

Empty

Air Supply, a popular soft rock group from Australia was in its prime during the 1980’s.  One of Air Supply’s greatest albums, Love in Love featured three classic songs which made the top 100 billboard charts.  The highest, All Out Of Love, reached number two in the early 1980’s.  After reading through the lyrics, this song refers to an individual who is tapped out, unable to muster the strength necessary to love.  Essentially, this soul is empty.

I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things, Isaiah 45:7.

This week I attended a Wilmington Blue Rocks game, a local Class A minor league affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.  My sister’s company usually rents out one of the boxes or suites so I enjoy spending the night with family.  However, on this particular night the ballpark was empty.  While the full capacity is over 2000, there might have been two hundred people sitting in the stands.  Normally, the heat of summer would be an excuse, except it was 80 degrees with little to no humidity.  Either people are too busy, don’t have the extra money to spend or are simply empty, losing their love for America’s summer pastime.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint, Isaiah 40:31.

Baseball is not the only thing in life people have grown cold toward.  The stress to provide for your family, struggle to fit in and the worries of each day can suck the life out of individuals.  Thus, people like me endure periods of feeling numb.  Though psychologists may call this depression, I think sometimes in life, people need to sort things out on their own.  When the malaise ends, you can snap out of it.  However, don’t be surprised when someone you love is quiet for a while until emptiness is replaced by joy.

by Jay Mankus

 

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