Archives for posts with tag: mental health


What is meditation?

“I will meditate on all your activity and ponder over your dealings.”—Psalm 77:12.


Meditation takes many forms, a number of which have roots in ancient Eastern religions. “The mind has to be empty to see clearly,” said one writer on the subject. His words reflect the view that emptying the mind while focusing on certain words or images promotes inner peace, mental clarity, and spiritual enlightenment.


The Bible puts a high value on meditation. (1 Timothy 4:15, footnote) The kind of meditation that it encourages, however, does not entail emptying the mind or repeating a certain word or phrase, sometimes called a mantra. Rather, Biblical meditation involves purposeful thinking on wholesome topics, such as God’s qualities, standards, and creations. “I meditate on all your activity; I eagerly ponder over the work of your hands,” prayed a faithful man of God. (Psalm 143:5) He also said: “I remember you while upon my bed; I meditate on you during the watches of the night.”—Psalm 63:6.

 How can meditation benefit you?

“The heart of the righteous one meditates before answering.”—Proverbs 15:28.


Wholesome meditation gives us inner depth, quiet reserve, and moral strength—all of which add insight and understanding to our speech and behavior. (Proverbs 16:23) Such meditation, therefore, also contributes to a happy and rewarding life. Concerning the person who regularly meditates on God, Psalm 1:3 states: “He will be like a tree planted by streams of water, a tree that produces fruit in its season, the foliage of which does not wither. And everything he does will succeed.”

Meditation also helps us to improve our comprehension and memory. To illustrate, when we study an aspect of creation or a certain Bible topic, we learn many interesting facts. But when we meditate on those facts, we see how they relate to one another and to what we have learned in the past. Thus, just as a carpenter turns raw materials into an attractive building, meditation enables us to “assemble” facts into a coherent pattern or structure.

Should meditation be properly directed?

“The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate. Who can know it?”—Jeremiah 17:9.


“From inside, out of the heart of men, come injurious reasonings, sexual immorality, thefts, murders, acts of adultery, greed, acts of wickedness, deceit, brazen conduct, an envious eye, . . . and unreasonableness.” (Mark 7:21, 22) Yes, like a fire, meditation must be controlled! Otherwise, improper thoughts could nurture hurtful desires that might race out of control and lead to evil deeds.—James 1:14, 15.

Accordingly, the Bible encourages us to meditate on ‘things that are true, righteous, pure, lovable, well-spoken-of, virtuous, and praiseworthy.’ (Philippians 4:8, 9; footnote) When we take in such fine thoughts and “sow” them in our mind, we will reap in the form of beautiful qualities, gracious speech, and warm relationships with others.—Colossians 4:6.



“I felt like a mouse running on a treadwheel and getting nowhere. I often worked 16-hour days with rarely a weekend off. I felt angry because I only ever saw my little girl asleep. Stress was making me sick.”—Kari, Finland.

KARI’S experience is not unusual. According to a mental-health charity in the United Kingdom, 1 in 5 British workers said that stress had made them physically ill during their career, and unmanageable pressure had caused 1 in 4 to cry while at work. Prescriptions for antidepressants saw an unprecedented rise during one recent year of economic recession.

What has caused you stress?

  • Insecurity—financial or otherwise

  • A demanding routine

  • Interpersonal conflicts

  • A traumatic experience

How has stress affected you?

  • Health disorders

  • Emotional exhaustion

  • Sleep problems

  • Depression

  • Deteriorating relationships

 Stress activates an amazing system in your body—your emergency response system. Hormones are released to increase your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. In addition, reserves of blood cells and glucose flood into your bloodstream. This cascade of reactions prepares you to deal with the stressor, the stimulus causing the stress. After the stressor has passed, your body may return to normal. But when a stressor remains, it can leave you chronically anxious or tense, like a motor that stays revved up. So learning how to deal with stress is important to both your physical and your mental well-being.

Managing Stress

Stress in itself is not necessarily harmful. The American Psychological Association has noted: “Stress is to the human condition what tension is to the violin string: too little and the music is dull and raspy; too much and the music is shrill or the string snaps. Stress can be the kiss of death or the spice of life. The issue, really, is how to manage it.”

Adding another dimension, people vary in temperament and general health. So what stresses one person may not stress another. That said, you are likely overstressed if your regular routine makes you so tense that you cannot relax or deal with the occasional emergency.

To help them “cope” with chronic stress, some people turn to alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. Others begin abnormal eating patterns or sit passively in front of a TV or computer—habits that do not address the underlying problem but may, in fact, exacerbate it. How, then, can we learn to manage stress effectively?

Many people have been able to manage life’s stresses by applying the practical advice found in the Bible. Could its tried-and-tested wisdom help you? Consider that question in the light of four common causes of stress.


A daughter confiding in her mother

Not one of us has total security. As the Bible states, “time and unexpected events overtake [us] all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) How can you cope with feelings of insecurity? Try these suggestions.

  • Confide in a trusted family member or friend. Studies show that the support of loved ones consistently confers protection against stress-related disorders. Yes, “a true friend shows love at all times, and is a brother who is born for times of distress.”—Proverbs 17:17.

  • Do not continually focus on worst-case scenarios. Such thinking does little more than drain emotional reserves. And what you fear may not happen! For good reason, the Bible says: “Never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties.”—Matthew 6:34.

  • Tap into the power of prayer. “Throw all your anxiety on [God], because he cares for you,” says 1 Peter 5:7. God shows his care by giving us inner peace and by assuring us that he “will never abandon” those who sincerely turn to him for comfort and support in times of need.—Hebrews 13:5; Philippians 4:6, 7.


A businessman running on a cog in a machine

A relentless routine of commuting, working, studying, or caring for children or elderly parents can keep stress levels high. Moreover, stopping some of these activities may be out of the question. (1 Timothy 5:8) What, then, can you do to cope?

  • Try to give yourself some downtime, and get adequate rest. The Bible says: “Better is a handful of rest than two handfuls of hard work and chasing after the wind.”—Ecclesiastes 4:6.

  • Set sound priorities, and adopt a modest lifestyle. (Philippians 1:10) Consider simplifying your life, perhaps by reducing expenses or time spent at work.—Luke 21:34, 35.

Kari, mentioned earlier, took a fresh look at his life. “I realized that I was pursuing a selfish lifestyle,” he wrote. He sold his business and took on work that gave him more time at home. “Our standard of living has dropped a little,” he admits, “but my wife and I are now free of constant stress, and we have more time to spend with family and friends. I would not trade the inner peace I now have for any business opportunity.”


Two men settling a difference

Conflicts with others, especially in the workplace, can be very stressful. If you experience such difficulties, you have a number of options that might help.

  • When someone upsets you, try to stay calm. Do not add fuel to the fire. “A mild answer turns away rage, but a harsh word stirs up anger,” says Proverbs 15:1.

  • Try to settle differences privately and respectfully, thus dignifying the other person.—Matthew 5:23-25.

  • Try to gain insight into his or her feelings and viewpoint. Such insight “slows down [our] anger” because it puts us in the other person’s shoes. (Proverbs 19:11) It can also help us to see ourselves through the other person’s eyes.

  • Try to forgive. Forgiveness is not only beautiful. It is also good medicine. As reported in a 2001 study, “unforgiving thoughts” resulted in “significantly higher” blood pressure and heart rate, whereas a forgiving attitude reduced stress.—Colossians 3:13.


A woman giving of her time to help another woman

Nieng, who lives in Cambodia, suffered a string of tragedies. In 1974, she was injured when a bomb exploded at an airport. The following year, her two children, her mother, and her husband all died. In the year 2000, her home and other belongings were destroyed by fire, and three years later, her second husband died. At that point, she wanted to end her life.

“Better is a handful of rest than two handfuls of hard work”

Yet, Nieng found a way to cope. Like Kari, she examined the Bible and benefited so much from what she learned that she, in turn, devoted time to helping others enjoy the same benefits. Her story calls to mind a 2008 study by British researchers. One way to develop “resilience in the face of stress,” they found, was to “give in some way . . . to others”—advice that has long been espoused in the Bible.—Acts 20:35.

Additionally, Nieng gained a sure hope for a better future, one in which all the problems that plague mankind will be gone. Instead, “peace will abound” earth wide.—Psalm 72:7, 8.

A genuine hope and the wisdom to cope with life’s many stresses are both priceless, and both can be found in the pages of the Bible. Millions have already benefited from this remarkable and unique book. You can too.

Stress can actually be useful, but only if it is managed properly.

“Throw all your anxiety on [God], because he cares for you.”—1 PETER 5:7.

Death can seem preferable to life when you feel that there is nothing you can do to improve your situation. But consider some avenues of help that are available to you.

Prayer. Prayer is not merely some psychological crutch; nor is it a last resort for desperate souls. It is real communication with Jehovah God, who cares about you. Jehovah wants you to tell him your concerns. In fact, the Bible urges us: “Throw your burden on Jehovah, and he will sustain you.”—Psalm 55:22.

Why not talk to God in prayer today? Use his name, Jehovah, and speak from your heart. (Psalm 62:8) Jehovah wants you to come to know him as a friend. (Isaiah 55:6; James 2:23) Prayer is an avenue of communication that can become available to you anytime, anywhere.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, “studies have consistently found that the overwhelming majority of people who die by suicide—90% or more—had a mental disorder at the time of their deaths. Often, however, these disorders had not been recognized, diagnosed, or adequately treated”

People who care. Your life matters to others—including your family members or friends who may already have expressed concern for you. People who care also include some whom you may never have met. For example, at times in their ministry, Jehovah’s Witnesses encounter distraught people, some of whom have admitted that they were desperate for help and had considered ending their life. The door-to-door ministry has given Jehovah’s Witnesses a unique opportunity to help such people. Following Jesus’ example, Jehovah’s Witnesses care about their fellowman. They care about you.John 13:35.

Professional assistance. Suicidal thoughts often indicate the presence of a mood disorder, such as clinical depression. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you suffer from an emotional illness—any more than if you suffered from a physical illness. In fact, depression has been called “the common cold of the mind.” Just about anyone can get it—and it can be treated. *

REMEMBER THIS: It is usually not possible to climb out of a deep pit of depression by yourself. With a helping hand, however, you can succeed.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY: Seek out a reputable physician who treats mood disorders such as depression.

IF YOU met Diana, * you would find her to be an intelligent, friendly, and gregarious young woman. But beneath Diana’s charming exterior lurks a crippling despair that leaves her feeling utterly worthless for days, weeks, or even months at a time. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about dying,” she says. “I truly believe that the world would be a better place without me.”

“Some studies have shown that for every death by suicide, 200 people have attempted suicide and 400 [other] people have thought about it.”—THE GAZETTE, MONTREAL, CANADA.

Diana says that she would never kill herself. Still, at times she sees little point in going on with life. “My greatest wish is to be killed in an accident,” she says. “I’ve come to view death as a friend—not an enemy.”

Many people can relate to Diana’s feelings, and some of them have contemplated—or attempted—suicide. Experts point out, however, that most people who try to kill themselves do not really want to end their life; they merely want to end their suffering. In short, they believe that they have a reason to die; what they need is a reason to live.

Why go on? Consider three reasons to keep living.

Have you or has someone you know thought about suicide? Finding a reason to live can make all the difference.


The Sting of Death

Death is an uncomfortable subject. Many people prefer not to talk about it. But sooner or later, we must confront it. And the sting of death is sharp and painful.

Nothing can fully prepare us for the loss of a parent, a spouse, or a child. A tragedy may strike unexpectedly or unfold relentlessly. Whatever the case, the pain of death cannot be eluded, and its finality can be devastating.

Antonio, who lost his father in a road accident, explains: “It is like somebody sealing up your house and taking away the keys. You cannot return home, even for a moment. You are left with only your memories. This is the new reality. Although you try to deny it—since it seems so unfair—there is nothing you can do.”

When faced with a similar loss, Dorothy, who became a widow at the age of 47, resolved to find some answers. As a Sunday-school teacher, she never felt that death ended it all. But she had no clear answers. “What happens to us when we die?” she asked her Anglican minister. “No one really knows,” he replied. “We will just have to wait and see.”

Are we condemned merely to “wait and see”? Is there any way we can know for sure whether death ends it all?