Hope Prevails! {Book Give-Away today!}

Hope Prevails 1

Self-care. The two hardest words e.v.e.r. (right next to “dirty dishes”.) Seriously, if you’re like me and you struggle with taking care of yourself than this article (and today’s give-away) are for you!

I met Michelle at a retreat this past April. What a joy! Dr. Michelle is a practicing neuropsychologist and she knows how to help people feel better. But more than that, Michelle gets it on a personal level. Be blessed by the tips she shares in today’s article and then leave a comment so you can be eligible to win her book! Let’s hear from Michelle!


We have all heard the instructions. But as I glanced as far as my limited view around the seat-backs in front of me and behind me would allow on a recent trip, I realized that in our busy world, we all begin to tune out the very instructions that could save our very life: “In the event of an emergency, you should put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others…”

Yet how often do we neglect to put on our own oxygen mask first? How often do we continue to pour out into the lives of others and neglect our own self-care?

I did. Even as the professional, who taught others about the importance of self-care, I allowed myself to fall into the trap of caring for others before I took care of myself, and it literally almost killed me.

As I lay in the hospital bed strapped to IV’s for hydration, nutrition, and pain management, I heard the words that whip-lashed my life back into perspective:

I’m putting you on mandatory bed rest. You’re in no shape to work and be treating others until we get you healed first. It’s time to make yourself your top priority.

The next five months were a fight first to stay alive, and next, to not go back to the lifestyle that almost killed me in the first place. It was time to start practicing what I preached.

“What brings you to my office today?” Is often the way I greet a new patient coming to my private practice.

To which I often get a reply that resembles something in the form of, “I just want to figure out how to feel better.”

From there a discussion ensues regarding signs and symptoms that have led them to seek getting help, and ultimately an evaluation and then a diagnosis.

A diagnosis in my office could run the gamut from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, anxiety, post-concussion syndrome, all the way to dementia. Usually people don’t seek out a professional’s help, however, until they have exhausted all their own tactics and strategies. At that point, they need an objective opinion and recommendation for a new game plan.

My patients are often very surprised to hear, however, that my treatment recommendations almost always include some of the basics: the very things we have been taught by our mothers since we were small children but fail to remember even as adults.  Yes, I often recommend the expected treatments such as medication, counseling, or rehabilitation, but almost never do I recommend those suggestions in the absence of basic self-care.

Scripture is very clear that we must take care of ourselves as a form of honoring God.

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself” (1 Corinthians 6:9 NLT).

I think our lives would be drastically improved for the better if we all made a more conscious effort to remember that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit and what we do to them and for them impacts His home and our well-being.

Christ came to give us an abundant life, but scripture says the thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He doesn’t have to try very hard to steal from us the abundant life Christ came to give, if he can convince us to sacrifice caring for our own bodies.

In an individual’s desire to feel better, physically and emotionally, I always take the time to talk with them about how well they are caring for their body. This includes a discussion of 5 factors:

1. Rest

“Tell me a little about your sleep habits. For example, how consistent is your bedtime, which is crucial for your brain’s ability to regenerate all the chemicals you need to maintain attention and concentration, memory, mood, and hormonal regulation,” I ask.

They usual glance away before admitting that a consistent bed time is not a high priority, and then they try to make up for it by telling me that when they stay out late like on the weekends, they sleep in the next morning. But sleeping in rests the physical body, but the brain has already missed out on that regeneration it was wanting and needing to do at the same time every night, which is why a consistent bedtime is so very important.

Rest is crucial for your physical and emotional well-being. Sleep is the time when our body repairs tissue, regenerates essential chemicals in our brain, and builds muscle. Without sufficient sleep, we minimize our brain and body’s ability to repair itself, and over time, illness and disease ensues.

Rest is also crucial, however, for accepting God’s work in our lives. In Hebrews 3:7-11 we learn that the Israelite’s were prevented from entering into the Lord’s rest because their hearts were hardened against the Lord’s ways.

When we rest, we trust God instead of worry.

Worrying represents a lack of belief in who God is and that He will do what He promises He will do. Rest, on the other hand, represents trust in God and his faithfulness.

2. Nutrition

“Tell me about your diet. What are you feeding your body and your mind?” When I ask that question, too often I’m surprised to hear of the skipped meals or processed foods that people are using to keep their bodies running.

God created nutrition to supply our physical body with the fuel to make it through the day. So often, however, what I see in my private practice is that people give little thought to the choices they make for fueling their body. Many will snack on carbohydrates for quick energy, but unfortunately, that also leads to a fast crash as well. Our brains require sufficient protein for sustained consistent fuel throughout the day to ensure adequate attention, memory, and emotional stability.

God placed importance on both rest and nourishment.

“Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ …He ate and drank and then lay down again” (I Kings 19:5-6).

If God rested than shouldn’t we?

3. Exercise

“When was the last time you got some physical exercise? Took a walk someplace other than the grocery store? Rode a bike? Did something physical aside from lifting clothes in and out of the washing machine, and perhaps even enjoyed it?” The response I usually receive is a bashful smile, or a head turned away or eyes diverted to the ground, with a “not as much as I should,” mumbled under their breath.

In speaking to people about their physical and emotional well-being, especially in times of stress, one of the first things that I find to be sacrificed is physical exercise. The most frequent excuse I hear? “I don’t have enough energy to exercise.”

Yet, the truth is that even 10-15 minutes of exercise a day will increase our available energy through the rest of the day!

In addition it improves our motivation for exercise the next day. As an added bonus, just 10-15 minutes of physical exercise has been shown to improve our mood as well.

4. Socialization

God created us with an inherent need for community and fellowship. He looked at Adam and told Adam that it was not good for him to be alone, and soon thereafter, created Eve as a suitable companion.

Being with people, even in just short bursts of time, helps our physical and emotional well-being.

Jesus demonstrated the inherent need to be with people, even if only with his trusted few. The night before He died, he went into the garden to pray, but He didn’t want to be alone, so he took His closest friends to keep Him company. Sometimes the company of a good friend is enough to ease our pain, fill our loneliness, and provide comfort and cheer.

Social interaction also provides for much needed accountability. It’s in the daily interaction that we check in with each other and hold true to the commitments we have made to ourselves and each other. Accountability is key for lasting change.

5. Time Spent In God’s Presence

In the hurried and frantic pace of our busy lives, often when we sacrifice our own self-care, we also sacrifice our first priority: time spent with the Lord. Yet He is the one who provides for everything we need.

 “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

We lose our peace when we lose our focus on Him.

Yet when we will maintain Him as our top priority and our key focus, everything else will fall into place.

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3)

So before the stressful times come and you’re forced to re-evaluate this issue of self-care because it is no longer an optional line on your to-do list, what changes can you make now to help you live in the more abundant life Christ came to give, and to care for yourself so that you can continue to care for others?

Your DoAhead Friend,

Dr. Michelle

Okay DoAheads! All you need to do to be eligible to receive Michelle’s book is leave a one word comment regarding which of the five areas above are the hardest for you in terms of self-care. (It’s not  necessary, but if you like, share how you’ve been able to improve OR how you hope to apply Michelle’s wisdom to improve in that area.) Ready. Set. Go!

{Author, speaker and board certified clinical neuropsychologist, Dr. Michelle Bengtson is also a wife, mother and friend. She knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address issues surrounding medical and mental disorders, both for those who suffer and for those who care for them. She offers sound practical tools, affirms worth, and encourages faith.

Dr. Michelle Bengtson offers hope as a key to unlock joy and relief—even in the middle of the storm. She blogs regularly on her own site: http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com Dr. Bengtson’s book “Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” (Revell publishers, August 16, 2016) is available for purchase now:  http://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/}



  1. I would say Physical Exercise is my biggest weakness here. I probably only do ti if I have a buddy. God has been speaking to me about this truth about self-care this year and I have been working on changing my diet some. I need to continue to make myself a priority in this way so I may serve the Lord and my family better.

  2. Rest! Attempting to get back to a 10:30 bedtime and cutting back tech in the evening. Change is hard.

  3. Mary Lee Morgan says:

    Exercise! Osteoarthritis pain in my knees makes this quite a challenge, and one I am not meeting very well right now, even though I know that not moving will let it get worse.

    • It’s tough to move when we’re in pain but how right you are. No movement isn’t good either. I’m praying those knees will cooperate enough so that you can get going again!

  4. Mary Tullila says:

    I have two words that are killers…suicide loss. Thrice over….
    I’m bone tired of what’s left behind…yet shall I praise Him on the threshing floor.

    • Oh Mary. I’m so very, very sorry. May I pray for you? “Father, I thank you for Mary and her willingness to be open. Lord, please meet her in the middle of the mess. Give her strength and hope that she never knew she could have during such tremendous loss. Fill her with praise, meet her needs, comfort her in every way, shape and form. In the name of your precious Son we pray-Amen.”

  5. Excellent goals Becky! Glad to hear it! #HopePrevails!

  6. Exercise! My usual dorm of exercising is walking in my neighborhood. It has been so very hot this summer in Northern Nevada, I have been neglecting my walking routine. We are moving to Va with longer cooler springs and falls, so I am hoping to have more opportunity to get out and walk, I also plan to begin basic T-Tapp exercise routine after this move.
    Love Dr. Michelle’s 5 factors in taking care of ourselves!

  7. Nutrition. I’ve had some health issues, so I have had to make some changes to help minimize those issues. I’ve already cut out 90% of my sugar/caffeine intake (I was addicted to chai tea lattes, which I had daily). Also, have cut my bread(carbs) intake by at least 50% – another weakness. Eating more fruits and veggies (Have gotten into making smoothies for meals 4-6 times per week). It all has been a sacrifice, but I know it has to be better for my health.

  8. Great recommendations, probably for me would be exercise. I am active at work but nothing set aside. A walk at lunch would do me good. Or a short walk when I come home. It is nice to see your face. Cindy. and as always Dr. Michelle a great article full of wisdom. Blessings Diana

    • Oh Diana so good to “see” you too! I’m right with you on the exercise front. The trick is as you said,”setting aside time”. This is my goal as the kids settle into a Fall routine! Blessings to you!

  9. Crissy Phillips says:

    Ive started back walking trying to clear my head, dealing with me these days with so many changes in the past several years of building my life around my girls and then moving them out to getting married to what do I do know…always worked hard single parent , I so enjoy my time at church but not involve like i would be if I lived closer to where I go, being social is hard because I don’t really feel i have a lot to contribute,…menopause,death of my mom, the wanting for someone to love you, really down deep, seems to be a far stretch…Im really trying to be happy with my self but still seem to struggle with me

    • Wow. It sounds like alot of life changes for you Crissy. How wise of you to go for those walks and clear your head. May I whisper a prayer for you? “Lord, you know everything that Crissy is dealing with. Learning to transition as her girls grow and move on can be difficult. Father, I pray that you would help her see her tremendous worth outside of her role as a Mom. Grant her peace, wisdom and opportunity to grow in other areas as well—maybe at church or in her community. Above all else Lord, I ask that she would begin to see herself as you do. May she see herself as a beautiful,loved,valued woman who in your eyes is always enough.” So glad you stopped by Crissy. Your name will go in the drawing for Dr. Bengston’s book! 🙂

  10. Exercise, although my mother in law was just giving away an exercise bike right after I had thoughts that I wanted it. God wink. So I just brought that home.

Speak Your Mind