How to Treat Yourself With Joy!

Debbie Walker

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We are living in an unprecedented time of anxiety and illness in the COVID-19 world. People are suffering, worried, and losing hope. We are looking this way and that for answers that seem to elude us. Joy is nowhere to be found.

I know because I am one of those people. Or at least I was.

I can fathom suffering since it is a well that runs deep in my life. Worry’s tentacles have left scars on my heart and hope has run through my fingers like sand.

After much searching and rumbling through guides and checklists, I came up with my very own approach to maintain well-being in my life! Not only did I rise from crushing depression, but joy also seeped into my body, heart, and spirit.

Humans are three-part beings, therefore, we must treat all aspects of ourselves. Neglecting one is to neglect all.

Body

Diabetic’s risk of dying from COVID-19 is four times greater than other segments of our population. Therefore, we have to be diligent in our efforts to maintain our health.

Some physical issues I face are diabetes, chronic pain, and osteoarthritis in the face of this pandemic. They are intertwined and what affects one affects the other. I never made the connection in the past until I began reading that sugar can cause inflammation, which triggers pain.

Less than 100 years ago, the average American consumed only 4 pounds of sugar, today it is 150 pounds. My jaw dropped! I don’t eat that much sugar, or do I? Where is it hiding?

The culprit is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) made from genetically modified corn, which is sweeter and provides no nutritional value. It is in everything we eat from soda pop, popcorn, snack, pre-packaged foods, and flavored water.

I am a diabetic and have to regulate my blood sugar levels through pills and insulin. High blood sugar leads to neuropathy and osteoarthritis, of which I have both.

I have neuropathy in my feet and can tell how high my sugar is within a few points by how badly my feet sting. Diabetes damages the nerves and my brain gets the signals mixed up. I cannot feel a touch to my feet, but it can feel like a thousand bees stinging my feet inside when I do not take my medication.

Meanwhile, processed sugars can prompt the release of cytokines, which act as inflammatory messengers in the body which leads to osteoarthritis. This type of arthritis is usually considered irreversible because of the slow progression of the disease. Years turn into decades of crippling pain, which severely limits movement and causes permanent disability.

However, even though eliminating sugar and eating healthy cannot cure osteoarthritis, it may mitigate further joint damage. Fruits and vegetables are a powerful weapon to fight this disease and the best tasting!

Heart

Now, it’s time to focus on our hearts and emotions. Aristotle postulated that the brain is in the heart from where our emotions rise. Meanwhile, studies show that our heart has about 40,000 brain cells with a nervous system that can feel pain, emotional pain, that is.

The old adage, it breaks my heart rings very true. One way I found to eliminate pain in my heart about my circumstances of illness and isolation are self-affirmations.

Every morning I look in the mirror and greet myself with love and joy. This was difficult at first because I did not want to see the aging of my face. I avoided mirrors altogether. Sometimes, when I glimpsed my reflection, I scared myself.

As I continued to practice mirror-gazing, I noticed a change. My countenance brightened! I do not know if my face glowed, or if my perception shifted, but it worked for me.

Another activity I engage in to bring joy to my heart is singing. I croak more than I sing, however; I feel like I can fly when listening to uplifting music. I feel a song growing inside right now. It’s from the Old Testament written by King David for the Sons of Korah:

“ O clap your hands, all peoples; Shout to God with the voice of joy.” — Psalms 47:1, NASB

Happy music makes me feel good! I play it whenever I am depressed or anxious. Even though I cannot physically get up and dance around the house like I used to, I move my upper body, and my heart smiles!

Spirit

The last part of my well-being process impacts my spiritual self. Reading inspiring devotionals and breath-work combined with prayer connects you to the sense of your higher self or your Divine Presence.

I have several devotional books, print and on-line, that I study daily. Reading a passage or chapter cleanses my energy and powers my thoughts to focus and begin the day.

Since prayer is a crucial component of my spiritual walk, I set about to gain knowledge of the history of prayer. One concept that emerged is of breath prayers. It intrigued me and I researched the idea.

I learned breath prayer is a practice of praying that is traced back to the 3rd century A.D. using the breath to utter simple, short phrases. To escape Roman persecution, many early Christians fled to the desert and separated themselves from the world. They used contemplative prayer to discover their meaning and mission in life.

Eventually, one group of Egyptian monks composed a prayer called “kryie eleison” (Lord, have mercy) that became the Jesus Prayer from Mark 10:47. The Early Church Fathers used meditative prayer coupled with their breath to pray the Scriptures. This practice became known as “lectio divina” and is still in use today almost 2000 years later.

I simplified this method of prayer by reciting the short form of a verse while I breathe it in and breathe it out. I visualize myself communicating and becoming one with humanity and God.

People are suffering. There is little peace, and sickness is rampant touching many lives. We see it all around us, in the news, with our friends, and even in our families. We can do nothing well if our well-being is shattered by COVID-19.

Awareness is the key to our wholeness. Hopefully, my approach will help you integrate all aspects of yourself to live a life of joy and well-being!

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