Session Six – Love the Lord with all your mind and with all your soul
Is your glass half full or half empty?
Read Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
What do you do to manage your stress?
Paul begins these passages with the exhortation to rejoice always. When you face difficult times, is your first reaction to rejoice, or is your first reaction to complain, get angry, or get depressed? Rejoicing in our circumstances will help us to face stress in a whole new way.
When trials come our way, Paul encourages us not to worry about any of these circumstances (be anxious for nothing). To worry is to tell God that we do not have confidence in His care and His control over our situations. We demonstrate that we do not trust Him when we stay in a state of anxiety.
Paul gives us a powerful method to combat anxiety and stress. Instead of worrying, we should immediately talk to our Heavenly Father and present our concerns through prayer (sharing our heart), petition (confessing our needs and desires in the situation), and having an attitude of gratitude (thanksgiving) in expectation of what He will do. When we do these things, we will begin to sense God’s peace. It will guard our heart and prevent us from continuing in worry.
Ask for prayer requests and take some time to pray for the needs of the students.
Protecting your mind discussion
• Take a book with a hard cover and slam it down on the table. Give participants a moment to react to the noise and shock of the activity. Tell them they have just experienced a stressor (some of them more than others). Ask participants, “What is stress? How would you define it?” When sufficient answers have been received, give the definition from the text: “any specific or nonspecific response of the body to any demand made upon it”. Slamming the book on the table may have caused some of the following reactions to occur: increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased temperature, tenseness, nervousness, or others. All of these will move back to the original values as each participant sees the stress is gone. This reaction is known as the General Adaptation Syndrome. Take a few moments to describe this process.
• What is the Christian’s response to stress? Should it be to “be anxious for nothing?”
• Stress has been described as a “nonspecific” stressor affecting a person. This means that stress will affect different people in different ways. Ask participants to take out the results of their stress assessment from the text. This test measures all kinds of stress. It does not take into account how the stress affects the individual. Some events are stressful in a negative way to some and not to others. Discuss the difference between eustress and distress. Discuss the relationship between stress and health and performance.
• Define Type A behavior. Use the following information if desired:
o People who fall under Type A exhibit characteristics such as being impatient, excessively time-conscious, insecure about one’s status, highly competitive, hostile and aggressive, and incapable of relaxation. Type A individuals are often high-achieving work-minded people who multi-task, drive themselves with deadlines, and are unhappy about the smallest of delays. Although they may exhibit some or all of these characteristics, it does not mean that people with the type A personality are incapable of showing love, affection or other types of non-pessimistic behavior. Many are also capable of “coaching” some of these behavior attributes with proper treatment and medication. Those who do not seek treatment have been described as stress junkies, and often display some of the following characteristics:
An intrinsic insecurity or insufficient level of self-esteem, which is considered to be the root cause of the syndrome. This is believed to be covert and therefore less observable.
Time urgency and impatience, which causes irritation and exasperation.
Free floating hostility, which can be triggered even over little incidents.
o The Type B personality, in contrast, is patient, relaxed, and easy-going. They are also more creative and imaginative, inclined to self-analyze and evasive of stressful situations, and bad at coping when found therein. There is also a Type X or Type C mixed profile for people who cannot be clearly categorized and have a combination of both types of personality. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_A_personality
• Have participants complete the Type A scale assessment form.
This is assignment #1 for week six
• Take an informal survey of the group by asking participants to guess what their fellow classmate’s type would be. Ask participants for their scores and see if the group guessed correctly. Ask if any of the participants had difficulty answering the questions in the assessment. Some questions could be interpreted in different ways in different circumstances. This may affect the answers, and in turn, the scores. Discuss ways to change Type A personality behavior
• One of the aspects of Type A personality which causes health consequences is hostility and aggression. These are the only two components of the Type A personality which could be detrimental to one’s health. If a person is a strong Type A personality (high rating), they may be at risk. Have participants take special notice of those areas needing work. Discuss the need for controlling anger from a health perspective. The following verses from James may be used to supplement the discussion:
For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh. Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. (James 3:2-13)
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath (ANGER); for the wrath of man (ANGER) does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)
• Spend several minutes discussing the variety of relaxation techniques. Encourage participants to utilize whatever methods work best for their needs.
• Ask participants how they can resist the negative effects of stress. Discuss information on the process of becoming more stress hardy.
• Start a short discussion on depression. Differentiate between occasional depression and clinical depression. Discuss treatments for depression and give suggestions for what to do when depressed.
• Emphasize John 10:10, “I (Jesus) have come that they may have life and have it to the fullest”.
• Have participants take out a piece of paper and fill in their activities for the past three days. (ACTIVITY #3 for week five) When they are finished, ask them to look for times in the day in which they may have wasted time or not used their time efficiently. If this was done over several days, a pattern might emerge in which “time killers” would be seen. If they see an example in this activity, ask them to describe it to the rest of the class. They may be alarmed to see the amount of time spent doing low value jobs! They may also see that they are energetic in some parts of the day, and flat in other parts. A lot of this can depend on the rest breaks taken, the times and amounts eaten, and quality of their nutrition. The activity log gives some basis for experimenting with these variables. The analysis should help to free up extra time in the day by applying one of the following actions to most activities:
o Eliminate jobs that your employer shouldn’t be paying you to do. These may include tasks that someone else in the organization should be doing, possibly at a lower pay rate, or personal activities such as sending non-work e-mails.
o Schedule your most challenging tasks for the times of day when your energy is highest. That way your work will be better and it should take you less time.
o Try to minimize the number of times a day you switch between types of task. For example, read and reply to e-mails in blocks once in the morning and once in the afternoon only.
o Reduce the amount of time spent on legitimate personal activities such as making coffee (take turns in your team to do this – it saves time and strengthens team spirit). From: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_00.htm
• One of the ways time management is accomplished is by goal setting. Have participants list out their goals. Discuss the need to focus time on those goals which are most important and pressing. Use the following Scripture from Philippians 3:13-14 to emphasize the need for goals:
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
SLEEP HABITS AND WELLNESS
• Have participants take the Sleep Deprivation Quiz (this is ACTIVITY #2 for this week). Discuss the effects of sleep deprivation. Ask participants to determine how much sleep they need.
• Discuss the purpose of the Sabbath. For Christians, this is typically on Sunday, but for others around the world; it can be on other days. Should Christians of today set aside one day of the week for this purpose? Ask participants how they can honor the Sabbath in regards to rest.
• Conclude the discussion on sleep by listing six important components of sleep. Use the following information for your discussion:
o Six reasons why you need your sleep
o How much sleep do we need? Experts believe that seven to nine hours is about right. The goal is to wake up feeling refreshed and to stay awake and alert throughout the day without relying on stimulants or other pick-me-ups.
o While more research is needed to understand the relationship between chronic sleep loss and health, it’s safe to say that sleep is too important to shortchange. So if you haven’t considered sleep as part of your healthy lifestyle goals, here are six reasons to consider doing so.
o 1. Learning and memory
Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory by way of a process called memory consolidation. One study showed that those who slept before a cognitive task did better. In others, subjects discovered more insightful or creative ways to problem-solve after a night’s sleep.
o 2. Metabolism and weight
Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by altering metabolic functions, such as processing and storing carbohydrates, and by stimulating the release of excess cortisol, a stress hormone. Loss of sleep also reduces levels of leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite, and increases levels of ghrelin (pronounced GRELL-in), an appetite-stimulating hormone — a combination that can encourage eating.
o 3. Safety
Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
o 4. Mood/quality of life
Sleep loss, whether long- or short-term, may result in symptoms — irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness — that suggest psychological problems such as anxiety and depression. Too little sleep can leave you so tired that you don’t want to do the things you enjoy. Poor sleep also affects the ability to work effectively.
o 5. Cardiovascular health
We don’t know much yet about the effect of chronic partial sleep loss on cardiovascular health. But serious sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, cardiac arrhythmias, and increased inflammation (which has been implicated in heart attacks)
o 6. Immunity/cancer prevention
Though all the mechanisms aren’t clear, scientists have found that sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. For example, sleep loss around the time of a flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the production of flu-fighting antibodies. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer. Harvard researchers have shown that women who work at night are at increased risk for breast and colon cancer. The connection may be through melatonin, a hormone that helps put us to sleep; light at night cuts melatonin production.
o So if you think you aren’t getting enough rest at night, follow these tips to get better sleep:
Get regular exercise, but not within three hours of bedtime.
Don’t use alcohol as a sleep aid.
Avoid caffeine after noon.
Establish times for going to bed and getting up.
Keep your bedroom temperature cool.
Conclude the study with prayer. Encourage participants to complete the activities for the week and to continue with healthy behaviors. Emphasize that these behaviors are a tangible demonstration of loving the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.