Refresh & Renew: Simple tips for Burn Out.

In behavioral health speak, we call the tips used to deal with tough life circumstances or fleeting emotional spikes in mood “coping skills.”

What are some coping skills you use to deal with difficult moments? What do you do to refresh the hum-drum, routine buzz of life?

Do you find yourself getting jaded, bored or burnt out in your daily activities?

These feelings can lead to complacency, which can lead to apathy and poor health.

Some typical coping skills written into behavioral support plans of clients are:

1. Find a place for quiet time. Take a few minutes away from social activity.

2. Count to ten or recite an encouraging affirmation out-loud, “This, too, shall pass.”

3. Take a deep breath.

4. Take a break and go for a walk.

Without ways to continually refresh our minds and cleanse our perspectives, we’re in danger of walking around everyday carrying yesterday’s garbage. A few of my new coworkers tease me because I entered into my new job with one of the most envied schedules – Fridays and Saturdays off. I remind them I have another part-time job I work Tuesdays and Fridays, so I don’t really consider them my “days off.”

“I remember when I used to do that,” said my previously retired coworker who now works part-time. “Now I’m just jaded.”

He said this with a laugh and I know he’s only halfway serious, but still, becoming jaded is so easy. Yes, I may be young, but no matter your age, if you don’t have a good process of coping with stress, then apathy and burn-out seem an all too daunting potentiality. I have felt jaded more than once.

“You’ve got to keep it moving,” I tell him with a laugh. “In with the good and out with the bad… every day!”

I say this in all seriousness, but I know I often so quickly forget to let go at the end of the day.

I think of a river compared to a pond. A river is constantly flowing and self-cleansing. A pond sits stagnant and quickly gathers a layer of muck.

So I take to metaphors and visualizations (coping skills!) to deal with the onslaught of stress from the outside world.

The latest one is my duck metaphor. You’re a duck and the stresses of life are the water around you, let them roll off your intelligently-designed water-resistant feathers.

“A bullet can’t roll off your feathers,” my husband tells me.

“Why thank you for blowing holes in that theory!” I think. (Pun intended.)

I know he says it in love, however dark his humor is.

Because you know what? Life will bring troubles. And we’re not immune to them all. Fancy shmancy therapy talk doesn’t fix everything. That is why we call them “coping skills” and not “fixing skills.” That’s where radical acceptance and commitment come in. When we lean into our pain and embrace the reality that we will have troubles, that in itself takes away the power of the pain over us.

The Bible teaches us not to conform to the pattern of the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

We don’t have to choose lethargy, apathy and complacency when such refreshing alternatives are offered to us because of the love of God.

Text graphic from Ministries of Truth for Women

True thankfulness.

“True thankfulness is no other than the exercise

of love to God on occasion of his goodness to us.”

– Jonathan Edwards –

Sometimes what stands in the way

of a good day and a great day

or a bad mood and a better mood

is just a simple

prayer of thankfulness.

Just saying thank you and cultivating a sense of gratitude for your blessings increases your positive feelings and positively changes your brain and body.

Make a list.

Keep a journal.

Take mental notes!

We may face problems, obstacles and challenges in life, but there is always something GOOD to be THANKFUL for!

Happy Friday 🙂

Products of environment.

It is a great deal

better to live a holy life

than to talk about it.

Lighthouses do not ring bells

and fire cannons to call attention

to their shining –

they just shine.

– Dwight L. Moody –

Pigeon Point lighthouse

Photo by Ian Chamberlain via

Our first teachers in life are the adults around us. We learn by example. We watch how they behave, how they treat us and how they treat each other.

Still, as adults, we’re strongly influenced by the people around us.

We are a product of our environments.

Unless you are a robot or totally emotionally impenetrable, the fact is, we are influenced by the people around us. Just try to sit at a table with a group of people, place a basket full of hot rolls and butter in the center of the group and see what happens.

When we strive for positive change, taking an inventory of our environment, our relationships and our daily interactions with others is key.

This week, in an effort to gain greater self-discipline, I began a kickboxing class at a local martial arts school. I’ve been to two classes so far and am feeling muscles that have been long inactive.

To say I was intimidated to begin this class is an understatement. I walked in to find this powerhouse of a woman (maybe about 5’2″ and 125 pounds soaking wet) throwing fast jabs and hook punches at our teacher’s gloves. She sidestepped around him swiftly, releasing a powerful cry with each punch. This was not soothing restorative yoga practice. This was tough, gritty, dig-deep exertion.

Some beliefs from the school’s “Student Creed” that mirror the principles of behavioral science:

1. I will develop myself in a positive manner and avoid anything that would reduce my mental growth or my physical health.

2. I will develop self-discipline in order to bring out the best in myself and others.

3. I will use what I learn in class constructively and defensively to help myself and others, and never to be abusive or offensive.

4. We are a Black Belt School: We are motivated. We are dedicated. We are on a quest to be our best. Asa!

This student creed, along with a list of other Black Belt principles; Modesty, Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control and Indomitable Spirit, are repeated out loud after and during every class, reinforcing the mission of the school.

“How do we lead?” the teacher asks.

“By example!” the students cry back in unison.

1 Corinthians 33-34

“Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character. 

Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning;

for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.”


Graphic Info on Anxiety.

Below are some informative graphics on anxiety and the physiology behind it. You can see below how social anxiety is strengthened by long-held beliefs about one’s self. If you think you may have issues with anxiety or know someone who does, seek professional mental health services in your area or talk with a trusted friend, family member or clergy member.

What are anxiety disorders? (Information below copied from

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental illnesses that cause people to feel excessively frightened, distressed, or uneasy during situations in which most other people would not experience these same feelings. When they are not treated, anxiety disorders can be severely impairing and can negatively affect a person’s personal relationships or ability to work or study. In the most severe cases, anxiety disorders can make even regular and daily activities such as shopping, cooking or going outside incredibly difficult. Anxiety disorders can further cause low self-esteem, lead to substance abuse, and isolation from one’s friends and family.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in America: they affect around 20 percent of the population at any given time. Fortunately there are many good treatments for anxiety disorders. Unfortunately, some people do not seek treatment for their illness because they do not realize how severe their symptoms are or are too ashamed to seek help. Furthermore, these disorders are often difficult to recognize for friends, family and even some doctors.

This chart is from a Help, Hope and Healing group started on Facebook to share information and graphics on different diagnoses, especially Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and anxiety disorders.

Expectation and heartache.

What do you think?

Do unrealistic expectations lead to heartache?

Perhaps the best thing we can do for ourselves and others is understand who we are, what we want and our personal limits.

When we know who we are and what we want, we focus on meeting our own needs and following our own dreams, giving and encouraging the people around us to do the same.

We won’t demand that other people live up to our expectations or live their life how we think they should live if we are already busy creating and pursuing the life we desire.

We won’t allow ourselves to define or force beliefs on another, and we won’t allow others to define us and interject their expectations onto us when we have already clearly defined our purpose and goals.

This can be a  more difficult topic than I’m making it sound and involves discussions on relationship dynamics and interpersonal needs and goals. Every relationship is different and has different needs.

Certainly we have to rely on one another, trust one another and depend on one another throughout life. The elements of working together and responsibility in human relationships truly make us unique.

The center of every healthy relationship is freedom, love and trust. Healthy relationships help you mature and grow. Unhealthy relationships are rife with expectation and demands, coming from a place of fear and control. Relationships can be healthy, unhealthy or somewhere in between.

What do you expect from your self in life?

What do you expect from your loved ones?

Putting your expectations in a realistic framework based on individual needs and desires can help alleviate suffering and heartache.

2 Corinthians 13:11

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice!
Strive for full restoration,
encourage one another,
be of one mind, live in peace.
And the God of love and peace
will be with you.


Faith song.

“Waiting here for you” Christy Nockels

This song is so uplifting and reminds of what faith really means…

…expecting God to do great things. It means believing that the sun will come out again or that the fog will clear. Why? Because He is God. He is in control. He is good and loves us. He wants awesome things for us!

Hebrews 11: 1-3

1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Of course we don’t get everything we want all the time. Some things in life just don’t work out how we want or expect them to. This hurts. This can smear gunk over our faith and the vision that we once had.

Like children, we would be awful, spoiled and fail to appreciate the beauty and gifts of life if we simply got everything we wanted all the time.

This song makes me think on the times I’ve waited on God and have been just so astounded by the gifts He has given. Waiting can be so difficult, but in season can bear beautiful fruit and is so worth it.

This song also reminds me of the times I have let fear, impatience and pressure rule me and cause me to make less than desirable choices for my life. These were times where I moved away from faith and listened to contrary messages instead – messages from culture, society or even well-intentioned loved ones who didn’t have wise insight on a situation, but gave advice anyway. In fear or pressure, I listened to these voices instead of the voice of God. I chose fear instead of faith.

I am thankful for a God who knows “we are but flesh” but loves us anyway.

He loves us enough to change us and not keep us where we’re at. He wants our health, wellness and happiness and for our hearts to love Him – to return to Him.

I am in awe of the mercy and grace of God. It’s not a love that spoils and says “It’s ok – you’re perfect no matter what you do so live however you want! Who cares!” It’s a love that sharpens, strengthens and brings me face to face with what I need to change. It’s a love that protects me, helps me and allows me to be human. It’s a grace that is sufficient to carry us through the dark night’s of our souls.

It’s a love that says, “I love you as you are. And I love you when you are with Me. You belong with Me.”

Psalm 19

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5     It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

The truth about ANTs.

People with depression see the world through a dim grayness, mostly due to dispiriting mental messages and reoccurring automatic negative thoughts. Our overall state of mind is governed by the deep limbic system of our brain. When this system is over-active, it can cast a negative shadow over the entire mind. (Source: Change Your Brain Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. For more information from this source see the link on the left-hand side of the blog page.)

Healing the deep limbic system requires healing moment-to-moment thought patterns. This means we stop to consider our thoughts, reflect on them and decide if they’re true, kind, healthy, helpful and if we ought to keep thinking them or not. One or two negative thoughts from time to time aren’t a big deal and it’s a very human and normal thing, but when the thoughts are over-whelming and the ANTs start walking in by twos and threes and fours, soon they can start streaming in producing chaotic feelings and rushing thoughts.

We have big black ants in our new apartment. I noticed one crawling out from underneath the toaster the other day in all its dark, intrusive largeness. It was zig-zagging across the counter-top scanning for leftover crumbs to snatch. Soon it was joined by another. Then another. I opened the cabinet and noticed they were traipsing down the side, over the bottom and through a tiny crack to make their way to the source that they needed – food.

(Courtesy of Google images.)

We can feed our Automatic Negative Thoughts by giving them power or we can starve them by choosing different ways of thinking.

I know I’ve blogged on ANTs before, but they are such a constant human weakness, it bears repeating.

This topic brings to mind this scripture in 2 Corinthians:

2 Corinthians 10:5

5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

When we have a thought, we can choose to believe it and receive it, or to hold it up in the light of Christ and the word of God to examine its truth. Check out this great Blog Post for spiritual insight and truth on ANTs.

Examples of ANTs:

1. Always/Never Thinking – Thinking in words like always, never, no one, everyone, every time and everything.

2. Focusing on the negative – Only seeing the bad in a situation.

3. Fortune-Telling – Predicting the worst possible outcome to a situation.

4. Mind Reading – Believing that you know what others are thinking, even though they haven’t told you. (This is often a projection onto others of what you are actually thinking yourself. It’s a very infectious and dangerous ANT. You never know what someone else is thinking unless they tell you.)

5. Thinking with your feelings – Believing negative feelings without ever questioning them.

6. Guilt Beating – Thinking in words like should, must, ought or have to.

7. Labeling – Attaching a negative label to yourself or to someone else.

8. Personalizing – Investing innocuous events with personal meaning. (You never fully know why people behave the way they do, so try not to take other people’s negative behavior personally.)

9. Blaming – Blaming someone else for your own problems. (Whenever you blame people for issues in your life or play the victim, you rob yourself of the ability to change your situation. This is a very disabling ANT. You have to take responsibility for your issues before you can choose to change them. Blaming others for your pain will only keep you in it and keep you a victim of life or circumstance.)

When you notice an ANT entering your mind you can train yourself to recognize them by stopping to write it down. When you stop to examine them on a conscious level, you can see for yourself how little sense it makes to think these kinds of things.

Most importantly, surround yourself with people who provide positive bonding experiences. The people you spend time with influence you and will soon rub off on you, no matter who you are.

What kind of people do you spend time with?

Do they encourage you?

Do they believe in you and make you feel good about yourself, or are they constantly putting you down and belittling your ideas, hopes and dreams?

“Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33

It can be very difficult to break away from damaging relationships or relational dynamics with people if enmeshment has occurred, especially if we live with them or they are in our close circle of friends and family members.

 Examples of enmeshment include:

  • Family members feel threatened by each other’s growth and independent choices, both big and small.
  • Someone uses fear, obligation and guilt (emotional blackmail) to keep the others in line.
  • One person feels that they need “permission” from the other, while the diminished partner’s needs go unvoiced and unmet.
  • Partners are supposed to totally satisfy each other, so they spend all their time together and have few of their own friends.
  • Partners can’t make decisions for themselves about everyday issues.
  • Any type of privacy is seen to be “secretive,” so family members have access to each other’s personal papers, emails, correspondence and so on. Some demand to know the other’s personal thoughts or the content of discussions with others.
  • Being controlled, attached, and entangled in these ways is seen as “normal” — even loving.
  • Difficulty differentiating one’s emotions from those of their family member.

When we truly and healthfully begin to care for our mind and body and seek more positive behaviors, we can search for new relationships and people to help us through deep limbic healing. It doesn’t mean you stop caring about or loving the people in your life. Sometimes you will find, though, that certain people may not want you to change – even for the better. We can respectively tell these people that we still love them, but are working at positive change and healthy behaviors in our lives and that their support means a lot to us. But do be prepared for people that may try to keep you where you are because your healing and positive change may be perceived as threatening or hurtful to them. True friends and family will encourage you to be the best you can be and they may even want to take that journey of healing with you. This would be a best-case scenario.

Search for positive bonding relationships by contacting a therapist or counselor, frequenting a local faith-based Church, joining a gym, wellness group or local organizations or clubs that are of special interest to you.

Healing takes time.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams,

and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined,

he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”

– Henry David Thoreau –


Drowning in paperwork.



Ever feel like life is just one heap of paperwork, tasks or errands demanding our attention?

I smile on the paperwork and the pesky little details. We’ve successfully moved to a new state and the calls, mail, paperwork and life-maintenance that comes with it is nuisance at best. It’s nothing that could surmount the joy of being closer to home or finally in a larger-than-one-bedroom apartment.

That’s Elijah wearing his post-surgical cone. He says “poo-poo” to paperwork, too, literally trotting all over it and turning it into a nap-time nest. I had to push him aside for this picture.

Weeding through the paperwork as I looked for the vet bill, I found this little note (first picture above) from Bible study tucked into the back of my Bible.

It’s so easy to get caught up in all our tasks.

And I wonder, is balance attainable? I feel it is just elusive. Kind of like humility. Once you think you have it down, you find your feet are teeter-tottering on the balance-beam of life.

Sometimes I think surrender is better than balance. I won’t ask for balance. I’ll ask to make greater space in my life for God to work and then I know for sure my feet will stay on the ground.

From “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” by Joanna Weaver:

Mary had a heart of gratitude.

Mary came with abandon.

Mary heard what Jesus was saying and she responded.

Mary held nothing back.

Mary loved with her whole heart. She didn’t hold anything back. Instead, in sweet abandon, she poured everything she had into showing her love for Jesus.

“She has done a beautiful thing for me,” Jesus said in the face of his disciples’ disapproval. “Leave her alone. She belongs to me.”


Better than a hallelujah.

“It is good for us to think

no grace or blessing is truly ours

till we are aware

that God has blessed

someone else with it through us.”

– Phillips Brooks – 

Psalm 51:16-18

New International Version (NIV)

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.

A tip to “Stickk” to it.

Behavioral science tells us we are more likely to stick to a goal if we make wise choices daily to maintain consistency on the road toward completion of that goal.

Whether it be saving up money for a car, losing 20 pounds, quitting smoking, organizing your garage or finally taking that trip abroad, your goal is never acquired all at once, but approached in small, incremental degrees.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams,

and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined,

he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”

– Henry David Throeau –

The more positive and productive your choices, the more likely it is that you will see your goal.

One of the best tools we need when going after a goal is FOCUS. And one of the best Web sites I’ve found to help foster personal focus is Declaring itself “The smartest way to set and achieve your goals,” Stickk is designed to help its users create healthier lifestyles by creating “Committment Contracts,” which bind you to sticking to a personal goal.

You set the goal and the time frame.

You can invite friends to help monitor your behavior and your actions toward that goal. You can even ask one of your people to act as a “referee” that will hold you accountable for your actions and choices on your way to the goal.

If you’re working toward a goal – don’t wait! Stay focused on your dream and move your feet in the right direction.

Hebrews 6:10-12

10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.


(Courtesy of Google images.)

Valerie Rumfelt

An on mission writer with winning ways to follow Jesus

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