Hope & Harmony Headlines: Finding Strength and Comfort

Last Updated: 6 Aug 2018
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May 3, 2018   •   Volume 11, Issue 18   •   Subscribe to Hope & Harmony Headlines

The Power of Faith

When symptoms leave you feeling as if your world has been turned upside down, where do you turn?

According to research, those who identify with a particular faith or spiritual tradition fare better when the ground gets shaky.

A 2013 study of people with bipolar, published in the journal Bipolar Disorders, found that those who report believing in a beneficent higher power and feeling a spiritual connection have better coping skills, lower rates of anxiety and depression, and greater longevity.

That’s probably why mental health professionals are increasingly integrating faith and spirituality—whether formal or informal, and regardless of doctrine—into treatment plans.

Therapeutic benefits extend beyond mental health.

People with a devout religious practice “don’t drink alcohol as much, they don’t use drugs as much, they don’t smoke cigarettes as much, and they have healthier lifestyles,” reports Harold Koenig, author of The Healing Power of Faith and co-director of Duke University Medical Center’s Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health.

Many faith communities offer supportive networks, resources and messages that offer inspiration for coping with distress. (And many take part in the annual National Day of Prayer, held the first Thursday of May, which invites people of all faiths in the U.S. to pray for the nation.)

Even so, Monica A. Coleman, PhD, theology professor and author of the memoir Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman’s Journey with Depression and Faith, wishes more churches would talk about mental health the same way they talk about other health challenges.

“I would like for us to affirm that health challenges are not a reflection of the depth of one’s faithfulness,” she says. “I’d like us to cultivate communities that can hold grief, pain, anxiety and the inexplicable without sacrificing individual or cultural dignity.”

There are lots of ways to follow a spiritual practice: praying, attending a worship service, walking in nature, reading reassuring devotional passages. Any of these can be a source of strength and comfort, and ignite the healing power of hope. Read more >>

 

Eat Regularly to Manage Weight—Don’t Diet

March 23, 2018, HELSINKI—Young women and men who succeeded in managing their weight over a 10-year period ate regular, sufficient meals instead of dieting.

Research conducted at the University of Helsinki found that consistent meals that support the natural biological functions of the body were much more effective at nourishing healthy, long-term eating habits and weight management skills.

“Often, people try to prevent and manage excess weight and obesity by dieting and skipping meals,” says Ulla Kärkkäinen, a researcher and licensed nutritional therapist at the University of Helsinki. “In the long term, such approaches seem to actually accelerate getting fatter, rather than prevent it.”

Instead of losing weight, which may seem like a logical solution, it is more important to focus on eating regular meals, taking care of your well-being, and finding a more general sense of meaning in life. Read more >>

 

How Siblings of Kids With Bipolar Can Be Affected

Experts believe more attention needs to be placed on how mental health challenges impact the other children in a family; here’s some considerations:

Feeling Overwhelmed: The sibling of a child with bipolar, or other mental health condition, can be overwhelmed with emotion when his sibling acts out, perhaps witnessing a volatile tantrum or maybe being at the receiving end of a rage-induced meltdown. Due to this highly-stressful environment, the sibling could be feeling unsafe, angry or have anxiety—even if he’s old enough to understand that his brother or sister may not be able to control their emotions. Read more >>

 

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