Week Two’s theme is ‘Interact’ - to act on or in close relation with each other. The world around us is constantly moving and changing, and we are changing too. Within your new and evolving perspective on health, how does this change how you interact with the world around you? Make time to explore how this week’s initiative will impact your thinking, feeling, and choosing in relation to the world around you.
Encourage: ‘Stress’ is a trigger word for a lot of us. Our busy schedules, our work environment, our family dynamics, even our inner dialogue can be the sources of stress. Here’s the truth about stress: it’s not a bad thing! In fact, stress is our body’s natural response to a perceived threat. The problem with stress is when our own minds perpetuate a perceived threat and the stress response unnecessarily continues within our body. The reality is, the things that cause us stress will always be there - no matter how well we orchestrate our environments to be peaceful. BUT! We can create healthy responses to stress and eliminate the majority of its negative effect on the body.
Challenge: Let’s rewire our thinking on stress. There are three stages or levels to stress. The first level is normal and healthy and the other two are damaging to our bodies. The first level is when a stimuli in our environment (anything from receiving an unwanted phone call to being trapped in a cave) is assigned as a threat by our brain and adrenaline is released. Adrenaline (epinephrine) increases oxygenation and prepares our body to rise to meet the challenge of the threat. Then cortisol is released to bring our body back down to it’s normal state. The second and third levels of stress happen when the threat remains. This can happen in ongoing battlefield situations or other terrifying situations, but it happens to most of us when our own minds perpetuate the threat by replaying events over and over or meditating on the threat for longer than necessary. When that happens, cortisol continues to release causing damage to the brain and blood sugar levels rise, inhibiting proper digestion. Prolonged toxic stress is directly linked to depression.
Today we aren’t going to focus on stages 2 and 3 or toxic stress. Your challenge is to recognize yourself in stressful situations and view yourself as perfectly normal and capable of rising to the challenge. If you start to see stress as the natural and helpful body reaction it is, your perspective in stressful situations will shift.
For example, a couple weeks ago I was running late for a meeting and realized halfway there that I forgot to bring a pack of water bottles. It was too late to turn around and go back home so I decided to pull into the closest grocery store. As I was basically running through the parking lot, I realized how ‘stressed’ I felt. My heart rate was elevated, my breathing accelerated, and my mind was racing with worry. I caught myself in that moment thinking about how stupid I was for forgetting and how bad it would be if I was late to my meeting. Then I flipped the script, I felt my body, animated to rise to the challenge, and I decided to think of myself as a warrior in that moment. I embraced my body’s physical response and then regulated my thinking; I wasn’t stupid, I’m simply human. There’s nothing that could happen to me by being late that an apology couldn’t fix.
[ALARM] Set an alarm to go off for when you drive home from work or when your kids are down for their nap. As you sit in rush hour traffic or finally take a seat on the couch, meditate on how your day went. List the times you felt ‘stressed out’ in your day. Flip the script in your mind from negative to positive. Think of how your body felt during that stress response and begin to associate that feeling with being a warrior, a survivor, and a conqueror.
Equip: Did you know that thoughts exist as physical structures in your brain? It’s true, and the healthier you think the healthier your physical brain will become. Your physical brain will respond to how you think. This is called neuroplasticity. Our brain is malleable, changeable. The most difficult part about creating healthy habits is changing the way we think. Managing our mindsets can seem impossible because we have innate, automatic responses to stress.
The truth is, we are fully capable of building healthy mindsets. Right now, you may think that your anxiety is out of your control. It may feel that way today, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. You may think that feeling ‘stressed’ is simply how you operate and without feeling that way, you don’t accomplish much in your day. You absolutely can have a positive relationship with stress so it doesn’t control your life. Everything you speak in your life either reinforces healthy thought patterns or negative ones. Negative thought patterns can grow in our brain and dominate our perspective.
God has given us all the ability to analyze our thoughts and question: do they do me harm or do good? (“Choose life!” Genesis 30:19) According to Think, Learn, Succeed by Dr. Caroline Leaf, here are practicalities of building healthy mindsets - and this is doable despite the state of your mental health:
Analyze a thought before you decide to accept or reject it - objectively follow where a path of negative perception would lead. Clusters of negative thoughts will actually pop and dissolve when we choose positivity (love over fear).
Speak the truth out loud - we can better control our thinking when we say words out loud. If there’s a negative mindset that is extremely difficult for you to break, speak the truth over yourself outloud. Let’s say you automatically associate yourself as a failure when an opportunity turns into a shut door, you can say: I feel disappointed but the truth is that I did my best and I will continue to do my best with every future opportunity. I am not a failure, that opportunity was simply not meant for me and that’s ok.
Be grateful - learn to find the silver lining in all situations. “A positive attitude ensures that genes are switched on for protein synthesis and good memories can form” (pg195) Allowing good memories to form is one of the best ways to ensure the mind does not perpetuate events as threatening.
Encourage: It’s very common to hear people admit they are trying to give up coffee or sugar. In general, fasting and detoxing our bodies holds many benefits. Everyone is different and should consult a physician before fasting, but fasts can improve brain function, digestion, metabolism, and can support other body systems. In the same way, it’s important to regulate what we put into our body. Detoxing our body from free-radicals and chemicals can reboot our system and put us on the right track. There are several fasting/detox options, so pray and consider what options may be right for you. If the idea of giving up something scares you, don’t worry! Breaking negative eating/drinking habits can be daunting, but there are some tips/tricks to help you get healthy quickly!
Challenge: Take five minutes to be completely honest with yourself; why are you doing this? What has motivated you to work on your body’s health in 2019. Focus on that motivation and internally investigate whether or not your motivations are coming from a place of self-love or fear. Now write what you’re thinking down. It doesn’t have to be pretty, no one else will read it. It just has to be on paper. Look at what you just wrote and evaluate those words. Are those words based on facts or simply feelings?
You might realize that your motivations require a healthy shift. Remember your motivation and realize it will affect the way your operate in the world around you. Are you prepared for the long-haul of a lifestyle reorientation? Even now you need to mentally accept your eating habits may look different at family dinners or your day’s schedule needs to reflect a priority for movement.
[ALARM] Set an alarm for 9:00 am on Saturday. Use at least 5 minutes to go through the above described exercise and embrace complete honesty. Finding a motivation that produces self-love is the only motivation that will sustain your new perspective on health.
GIVING UP CAFFEINE:
Here’s the hard truth about caffeine: it isn’t really that bad for you. Of course, anything in excess is bad for the body, and caffeine is no different. But the real problem with most tea or coffee drinkers is all the added sugar and dairy. Plus, most caffeine addicts only drink tea or coffee and completely ignore water throughout the day. Caffeine, in small doses, is actually proven to increase activity in the brain, but it’s also a diuretic. So ask yourself, are you giving up caffeine because you’re overdoing caffeine? Or are you giving up caffeine because you really need to quit sugar??
If you really feel like giving up caffeine for a season is the right call for you, here are a couple tips:
Drink A LOT of water - 64oz of distilled water daily
Supplement with Ningxia Red (extremely high in antioxidants) to keep your energy level up
If you’re majorly addicted to caffeine, start by switching to green tea for a week and then go cold turkey to ease the withdrawal process
Eat a fistfull of almonds 2 times a day to keep headaches at bay
GIVING UP SUGAR:
Some studies show that sugar has similarly addicting effects like cocaine, altering mood. While the parameters of these studies are under some scrutiny, it’s no secret that sugar is hard to kick. Primarily because it’s in everything! In 2016, I went 90 days without sugar and even limited my fruit and carbohydrate intake. Things to consider when giving up sugar:
Do you want to give up ALL forms of sugar or only processed (white) sugars? If you want to give up sugar all-together, essentially you would be starting the ketogenic diet. This is because in order to give up sugar completely, you ultimately need to limit carbohydrates. Carbs turn into sugar in our blood stream, if not used immediately for energy.
Do you plan on using sugar replacements like stevia? If so, be aware that using them will spike insulin levels and cause sugar cravings. Erythritol may be a better option if used infrequently.
Once you have determined how you would like to go about cutting out sugar, here are some daily tips:
Curb cravings with leafy greens or nuts, also therapeutic grade Grapefruit oil can curb cravings
Watch your food labels and eliminate anything with “-lose” in the ingredients list
Be aware of your emotional state when cravings hit. If you are upset, anxious, or scared when craving sugar, pray through the situation and seek comfort in Holy Spirit.
HEAVY METAL DETOX:
“Heavy metal poisoning is the accumulation of various heavy metals in your body. Environmental and industrial factors expose you to high levels of heavy metals every day, including the foods you eat and air you breathe,” says Dr. Debra Sullivan of Nevada University. Symptoms include: headaches, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea, trouble breathing, and fatigue.
The correct vitamins and minerals will bind to the excess metals and eliminate them from the body. ORGANIC foods with these detoxing properties are: cilantro, garlic, blueberries, lemon, spirulina, and chlorella. It’s also highly important to drink 64oz of distilled water daily to flush out toxins. If it’s hard to up the usage of those foods daily into your diet, supplementing with chelating (molecular binding process that eliminates heavy toxic metals) therapeutic grade essential oils such as helichrysum will help.
Depending on how severe your metal poisoning is will determine how long your detox process should take. The only way to know for sure is to ask your doctor to run the appropriate tests, but you can also use any remission of symptoms as a guide. The recommended detox period is anywhere from 21 days to 6 months and includes:
Drinking 64oz of distilled water daily
Consuming organic foods high in vitamins B12(listed above) and C
Increasing body waste pathways - increase fluid(urine), fiber(stool), and saunas(sweat)
Supplementing with chelating, therapeutic grade Helichrysum oil
BODY SYSTEM RESET:
The best way to reset your body’s systems is to fast! AKA, nothing but water for 24 to 72 hours. *Please* consult a doctor before fasting more than 24 hours, especially if you’re pregnant or nursing, have a heart condition, high blood pressure, or are diabetic. To keep up electrolytes you can add powdered magnesium, sodium, and potassium to your water.
Fasting can be one of the single, most powerful tools available to our overall health. It rests the digestive system allowing the body to use its energy to remove damaged cells. It speeds up metabolism without losing muscle mass. It regulates the leptin hormone (which tells the brain that we are full). It balance insulin levels. It promotes greater mental clarity, focus, and balances moods. It decreases chronic inflammation and water retention. It removes addictive food cravings like caffeine and sugar while setting you up for a fresh start to cleaner eating habits. Lastly, it completely RESETS the gut flora to have a good balance of good and bad bacteria.
Free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage cells, causing illness and aging. Antioxidants are nutrients in our food which can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body caused by free radicals. Free radicals are produced by our own cells but are accelerated by pollution, toxins, stress, and tobacco. Antioxidants act as "free radical scavengers" and hence prevent and repair damage done by these free radicals. (Medical News Today)
To reduce the production of free radicals: eliminate harsh household chemicals and stick to all-natural cleaning products. We recommend the Thieves cleaning line. This line is completely safe around children and pets, plus it supports your immune system as you clean!
To increase antioxidants, increase your consumption of these foods: grapes, blueberries, all types of red berries, walnuts and almonds, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and green tea. Brunswick Laboratories tested Wolfberries (Elderberries) and found they contain the highest antioxidant count on the ORAC scale. Ningxia Red is a blend of Wolfberry and Blueberry juices along with detoxifying therapeutic grade essential oils. 2oz of Ningxia Red daily is related to immune boost, liver function boost, energy boost, and cardiovascular support.
Encourage: A huge and integral part of developing spiritual health is employing Biblical truth to our lives. The Bible is our standard for how we relate to the world, which means spiritual maturity involves more than simply reading the Bible. We must know how to read it and apply its truth to our daily living. This is daunting for many people who either 1) don’t like reading or 2) find the Bible’s ancient script too difficult to be relatable.
You probably don’t remember learning to read in preschool or kindergarten, but you struggled - as all children do. You flipped vowel sounds and slowly sounded out each syllable. Give yourself grace and realize that spiritually you are a child learning to read all over again. Except you are not teaching your brain how to recognise letters, you’re teaching your spirit how to recognise the heart of God through His Word.
Challenge: Whether you’re a pro at sitting down with the Word or not, this challenge is for anyone with the desire to grow spiritually. Let’s start off with some basic Bible facts that will create a point of reference while reading:
The entire Word is ‘God-breathed and profitable for teaching’ (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
There are many translations of the Bible, so prayerfully consider and investigate which option is best for you. (Personally recommend the CSB, NLT, or The Voice)
The Bible is divided into 66 books as well as different ‘genres’, knowing this will help you answer the question, “what does this have to do with anything??” while reading.
If you don’t know much about the Bible or are seriously studying the Bible for the first time, I encourage you to start reading the New Testament Narrative and Wisdom Literature first. Start with one or two chapters a day, beginning at the start of a book. You will more easily understand the text if you start at the beginning rather than flipping through and reading whatever random verse you landed on.
Pray before reading!! A simple prayer as easy as, “God, thank you for your Word. Guide me as I seek to apply your truth to my life. In the name of Jesus, Amen.”
As you read, circle words that stand out to you and write your thoughts either in the margin or in a notebook. After you’ve finished ask yourself these questions and write out your answers:
What does this teach me about God’s character (either Father, Son, or Spirit)?
What does this show me about how I should live?
If you would like to expand on your thoughts, more questions can be found here.
**This can also be accomplished while listening to the Bible on audio, but please continue to sit with a pen and notebook and finish the prompt.
[ALARM] Determine a time of day that you will be able to focus on Bible study. Set an alarm for that time. When your first alarm goes off, have an honest conversation with God about your difficulties when reading the Bible. Honestly admit why it’s hard to you to find time or why it’s difficult to understand. Doing this clears the slate and invites Holy Spirit to be strong in your weakness.
Equip: There are so many resources out there to help you read the Bible and stay disciplined. Here are some worthwhile options that may be right for you:
The Logos Bible Study Tools App has over 28k reviews and provides a simple user interface to do everything from basic reading to inductive word studies.
For devotions sent to your device everyday, the app d365 Daily Devotional’s sleek and easy-to-follow steps provide convenience for those of us reading devotionals over our lunch break!
For a fun spin on daily Biblical application, YouVersion has developed Bible Lens. Unleash your creativity and ‘transform your everyday photos into profound, Biblically-based shareable pictures.’
For excellent book-by-book explanations of Biblical text, check out The Bible Project. With animation, the Biblical Narrative comes to life in an eye-opening way.
Referred to as ‘The Netflix of Bible Study,’ RightNow Media has seemingly endless amounts of streaming content. Many churches have accounts, so ask your Pastor for access. If not, individual plans are available for purchase.
There are entire book stores dedicated to Christian Living, but there are a few books that accompany scripture well. One is My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers. This book will challenge you as you develop a servant’s heart toward Christ.
Another time-tested book, written by C.S. Lewis, is Mere Christianity. This profound and beautiful classic is loved by both devout Christians and skeptics.
Meeting every morning with God’s Word can be a difficult routine to stick to. In New Morning Mercies, discover what you really need to genuinely meet with God.
Make sure you set your alarms for this week and start building healthy habits! Kelli will be going live Thursday January 10th on the Facebook Wellness Collected Page to share “Pushing Through The Slump” and to discuss Week Two’s Initiative. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and share encouragement with others on the facebook page!