Today has been harder for me in a lot of ways, but for no particular reason. All point back to anxious and overwhelming thoughts. It was a regular day, not much off our usual routine. I know that God has already reigned victorious over the enemy, and I am sealed by God in the power of the Holy Spirit. I ponder why there are days, like today, that I allow the anxiety to get the best of me. Why do I allow it to weigh so heavily upon my heart when I know the truth?
As a mere human, and as a licensed counselor, I am sadly far too aware of the effects that anxiety has on so many of us. It creeps in and steals our peace. It brings fear of the unknown and worrisome thoughts that dance around our minds endlessly. There are many therapeutic strategies and tools that help us to make great strides towards managing and even overcoming our anxiety, yet there are still no fool-proof remedies that I have come by, nor do I believe anyone has given the state of humanity.
So, what then? Do we just give way to anxiety because it’s in our genetic line, passed down to us? Do we just succumb to our fears because we’ve been given a diagnosis so we must just “be this way?” I dare say we must not submit to it! It may be real, agonizing, painful, and endlessly overbearing, but we always have a choice to fight it. Anxiety, after all, is based upon fears of the unknown, uncertainty, and questions that start with “What if…” and end with “worse case scenario.” I recommend we start asking “What if….best case scenario” questions instead. Why not replace anxiety with positivity. Why not reverse the effects that bring us down?
Anxiety makes us avoidant, angry, lonely, and breeds negativity. I have found a remedy that does work, that does overcome, that is greater. His name is Jesus. I openly admit I have days that get the best of me, but when I actively pursue Christ in prayer and in my Bible, anxiety doesn’t stand a chance when I fight it with my Savior who has already overcome the world. When we choose to believe that Jesus is who he says he is and that he can do what he says he can do, we can overcome!
I am a firm believer in seeking counseling, obviously, and proper medical care as well. I am not suggesting you start praying and ditch the mental health and physical health care professionals. I am encouraging us all to start taking God at his word and praying bold prayers. Ask him to free you of your anxiety, depression, co-dependency, anger outbursts, marriage and parenting struggles, doubts, fears, all of it. When the burdens begin to run deep, it is then we need to run even deeper into God’s word.
John 4:14 says, “but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
I Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Tools to overcome anxiety:
Grounding: Focus on your senses. Right where you are. What can you see? What can you taste? What can you smell? What can you touch? What can you hear? Anywhere you go, you can always focus on your senses, to pull you back into the present moment you are in. This takes your mind out of the wandering thoughts from the past or what if futures. Anxiety does not feed well off of present moments.
Practice deep-breathing: Don’t wait until you’re feeling anxious to practice your deep-breathing and yoga exercises. Make a habit of focusing on your breath and taking time out of your day to focus on deep inhale and exhale breaths to slow down, calm your heart, calm your mind. Slower breaths help to calm your body, and anxiety doesn’t dwell in calm bodies with steady hearts and minds. The next time an anxious thought arises, your body will remember to breathe. Teach your body when you are calm, so that your body can fight for you when you aren’t.
Guided Imagery and safe places: Pick a safe place – real or imaginary. Mine is the beach. If you could close your eyes right now, and suddenly transport to the safest place on earth, where would you be? For some, this may be your favorite spot in your own home, it could be on a boat, the beach, sitting by a waterfall in the mountains, perhaps a noisy café’ full of people – what matters is that you feel mentally, physically and emotionally safe in this space. Similar to grounding, you will imagine what you would see, hear, touch, taste, and smell in your safe place. Anywhere you go, a car, an airplane, a job interview, a meeting with a friend – you can close your eyes and transport to your safe place for a few minutes to calm your mind and your heart.
TRUTH: Remind yourself of what you know to be true. Anxiety doesn’t stand up well next to facts. Anxiety loves questions based on uncertainty – and it feeds into rabbit hole spirals of uncertainty – none of which can hold to truth. Take a sheet of paper and write out your anxious thought. Next to the thought – estimate 1-100 how much you think this thought is true. Then write a statement that confirms your anxious thought with truth (good luck!) Next, write a new, positive thought to replace the anxious thought. You won’t likely move from a state of anxiety to a state of relaxing peace and tranquility. Baby steps are vital here. Moving from an anxiety ridden mind to a moderately calm mind is an enormous stride towards healing.
Grace: Give yourself grace. This is paramount! If you overcome anxious thoughts for a day, or whatever length of time, don’t stress if they overtake you again. Sadly, they probably will at some point. This isn’t a sprint – it’s a marathon – most likely for life. We are human and with that, we are imperfect. I never underestimate God and his ability to completely remove anxiety or anything from our lives – but it doesn’t come without our follow through. Don’t shame yourself. You are an overcomer! When anxiety comes a knockin’ again, give it your best at all the tools you’ve learned, pray, pray pray, and then pray some more! And if it knocks you down again, give yourself grace, get back up, and keep up the fight!
We are not identified by our mental or physical health issues. We are identified by our creator God. We are identified by our Savior Jesus Christ. We were made in his image, made to overcome, made to serve, and honor him. Every time we get knocked down and get back up – God can use us to help others. If I continue to struggle as I did today, to give me the motivation to spread hope with you, then for God’s glory, I will take joy in my struggles again tomorrow!
*This is meant to offer help, guidance, and hope. This is not an “end-all, be-all” to all things anxiety. If it is a serious struggle you endure, seek professional help, follow their guidance, find a prayer warrior, mentor and friend. Do NOT go this battle alone!*
Be ever so blessed my friends in Christ!
Love you dearly,
Mandy - Wonder Woman Jesus Chic