Can One Really Overcome Anxiety?

Over the last few months, I found myself questioning everything I thought I knew about anxiety. I was experiencing new symptoms that left me confused, and a little afraid. I began to wonder…

can one really overcome anxiety?

This question bothered me. It circled in my mind as I lay in bed, it nestled in my thoughts when I washed dishes and folded clothes. It lingered in the background when I listened to music or watched TV. All the while, my anxiety grew. It wasn’t until I had reached the climax of my struggle, and sought counsel from my pastor, that I finally understood.

Because I am a lover of the written word, and I think more clearly when I can write my thoughts on paper, I have written this post in answer to my plaguing question! This article was not written for you, dear readers. It was written for myself. It is a compilation of all I have learned from my pastors, reading the Word of God, reading many books and articles, and my own personal experience.

Six Things People Who Overcome Anxiety Don’t Do:

1. Focus on their symptoms. People who overcome anxiety have learned that they can’t focus on their symptoms. Instead, they work on capturing every worry and fear and handing them over to God. Overcomers have learned that when they focus on their symptoms, and how terribly they want to be healed, they are actually robbing God from His glory. When the focus shifts from our symptoms to God’s goodness, we are taking the first step to glorifying Him!

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of God.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5

2. Allow their emotions to rule them. People who overcome anxiety have learned that they can’t allow their emotions to rule them. It is not a sin to feel sad, or angry. The sin lies in how much freedom we give to those emotions. If we allow our emotions to rule our spirits, we are allowing ourselves to become vulnerable to even more pain and suffering. When we allow our emotions to reign, life, in general, can feel like an impossibility in our minds, opening the door to dangerous thoughts. Overcomers choose to not follow emotional thoughts, and instead, leave them at the feet of Christ.

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls.” – Proverbs 25:28

Gird up the loins of your mind…” – 1 Peter 1:13

3. Play the “worry game”. People who overcome anxiety don’t play the “worry game”. They realize that while they can’t always help the worry that might pop into their heads, they can choose to not follow them. Once you follow a worry in your mind, it leads to more worries, and before you know it, you are on a merry-go-round of unhealthy thoughts and anxiety! Overcomers choose to not follow their worry.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

4. Quit God’s calling in their life. People who overcome anxiety don’t stop trying to please God. What is God’s calling in your life? God has personally called me to be a wife and a mother. Because of God’s grace, I have the strength necessary to fulfill this calling, even when I am having an exceptionally bad day. Every Christian, young and old, is called by God to do something, and God has given each of us the strength to obey, despite our anxieties. Yes, sometimes we need to rest, even God rested on the 7th day of Creation! However, God always gives us renewed strength to do His will! Overcomers recognize that they can still obey God, despite their anxiety.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” – Philippians 4:13

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

4. Stop Praising God. People who overcome anxiety don’t stop praising God. If it’s a good day, they praise God for the good day! If it’s a bad day, they find at least one good thing in that day, to praise Him for. Overcomers know that when they are able to give God thanks, not for their anxiety, but through their anxiety, they are reflecting God’s grace in their lives! They learn to rejoice in the day, instead of just “getting through” it.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” – Psalms 118:24

5. Forget the true meaning of “overcome”. People who overcome anxiety know it is a daily battle. Whatever the cause of your anxiety: worry, stress, fear, past addiction, or chemical imbalance – the victory is not in defeating the anxiety, but in your obedience to God despite it. Overcoming is learning to glorify your Heavenly Father, despite your difficulty. Overcoming is not allowing your difficulty to control you.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” – Philippians 4:11

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

6. Ignore God’s promises. People who overcome anxiety cling to God’s promises for peace. They realize that the more they read the Bible, and the more they pray, the closer to God they become. They realize that only God truly knows the thoughts and intents of their own hearts and that God loves them anyway! Overcomers know that no matter how difficult their anxiety may become, God is still with them and that He is offering His grace!

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7

I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins…” – Jeremiah 17:10

If I ascend up into heaven, thou are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”– Psalms 139:8-10

I’m not really sure I can claim to be an “overcomer” of anxiety, but it is something I strive for every day!

If you are a Christian struggling with anxiety, and this article was a help to you, leave me a comment below!

 

 

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No Fear In Death

There is no doubt in my mind that I will one day walk on a street of gold. One day, a hand that was once nail-driven to a wooden cross will reach out to me, and lead me Home. I will see my Savior face to face, and I will enjoy eternity in Heaven with Him.

I am not afraid of what life-after-death holds for me. (If you don’t know where you will spend eternity, go here to read how you can have that assurance.)

Once upon a time, I used to worry about how I would die. I’ve never been diagnosed with a terminal illness or told I only have a short time left to live. Yet there were nights I used to lay awake long after the rest of my family would be sleeping, and I would wonder how I would die. These worries at times would leave me frozen with fear, allowing anxiety to get a grip on my mind, debilitating me. Would I die in a car accident? I began to have panic attacks while driving. Would I die of a heart attack? I began to struggle with chest pains. Would I die of a stroke? I began to wonder if I had blood clots. Would I die of cancer? I began to question every twinge of pain.

Maybe you are reading this and are thinking about how silly and ridiculous I sound. A Christian afraid of dying?! Believe me, I used to think that of myself. Shame would fill me each time I struggled with this fear. Yet, I soon learned that I was not alone. In the last year, I received emails and private messages from other Christians who also struggle with anxiety, and have had the same fear of dying.

Over the years, I have learned that God has given us all the tools we need to overcome our anxieties. These tools are found in the Word of God. Once I realized that my fear of dying was beginning to affect me in a physical and unhealthy way, I turned to the scripture. There, I found exactly what I needed to turn my fear into peace!

Why I No Longer Fear Dying

God knows how many days I have left to live on this earth. In Psalms 39, we are told that God knows when we lay down to sleep, and when we rise for the day. He knows our thoughts before we speak them. In fact, God has a book with my name on it, and He is keeping track of every little detail about me, including how much time I have left on this earth. The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be forever.” – Psalms 37:18

God has already declared what my end will be. When God moved upon the face of the waters in Genesis 1, He was putting thought into His creation. He was thinking about the little details He would give to each and everyone of us. If God put so much thought into His creation, wouldn’t He put some thought into how His creation would end? From the moment I was formed in my mothers womb, God had a plan for how my life would end. Not only that, His plan will bring Him glory, and it will please Him! Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” – Isaiah 46:10

God is holding my years, days, hours, minutes, and seconds in His hand. I trust God’s Word. He said that the death of His Son, Jesus Christ would be an atonement for my sins. He said that I can stand before His throne spotless, and blameless. If I can trust God to hold my eternity in His hand, why can’t I trust Him to hold my life in His hand? God has a plan for my life, but I can’t live that plan if I’m consumed with worry about my death! But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou are my God. My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.” – Psalms 31:14-15

I will not live one second longer than what God wills me to live. God is not going to allow anything to get in the way of His plan for me! What comfort to know that my death will not be some accidental mistake, or afterthought! God has set an appointment for my death, and He’s going to make sure I keep it! “Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;” – Job 14:5

No matter how I will die, God will be with me. Heart attack, stroke, cancer, accident, murder – it doesn’t matter how I die, God has promised to be with me! No matter where I go, I can never outrun God’s hand. When my appointed time is up, God’s hand will be there to lead me Home, in fact, He may pick me up and hold me until we get there! “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” – Psalms 39:8-10

These precious promises God left in His Word are for us to take a hold of, and apply to our lives. If I trust Gods plans for me, then I don’t need to fear death. Trusting God is not about feelings or emotions, it is about action. I have to choose to trust God’s Word. I have to choose to commit Scripture to memory. I have to choose to quote these Scripture when I feel anxiety or fear. Only then can God turn my anxiety into peace!

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” – Isaiah 26:3

“No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me.”

– Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

When Silence is Loud

Sitting on my couch, I watched the setting sun cast it’s long shadows across my living room wall. The silence in the house was so loud, it deafened me.

Yes, you read that right. I said the silence was deafening.

I come from a large, loud family. Even when we didn’t have friends over, our house was still crowded, and loud. As the middle child of five sisters, I was able to experience the joys of sharing a bedroom, bathroom, and even my clothes with a crowd!

Eventually, I moved out of my noisy house and into a noisy, college dormitory. There, I shared a room with 4 other girls. Our house had eleven people living in it. Talk about crazy!

After living my entire life with crazy, loud females, you would think I’d get my own place just so I could enjoy some silence. Instead, I met a really handsome guy and decided to get married. I went from sharing a noisy dormitory to living in an apartment with my husband. I worked a part time job until giving birth to our first child.

I have spent the last 16 years raising 4 children. When it was time for my youngest child to go to school full-time, and for me to enjoy silent days at home, I found myself taking care of my sick husband.

Finally the day arrived. My husband was going back to work full-time after being home nearly two years. In my excitement, I made a list of fun house projects, stacked several books in a neat pile by my chair (pictured above), and filled my calendar with empty days.

Except, instead of leisurely resting in the sweet joys of silence, I became a tight ball of nervous energy. I had never truly been alone for more than an hour or two, and I wasn’t used to the silence. I soon learned that I was not a person who loved complete silence. I would much rather try to have a conversation with my husband over the craziness of our 4 loud children, than to be in an empty, quiet house alone. There is a lesson in the Bible for every phase of our lives, and I soon learned the benefits silence.

We need silent moments in our lives to remind us that God is still God. We get so busy in our day-to-day crazy, that we allow the noise and confusion of the world to creep into our hearts. We become weighted down over news of future wars, corrupt politics, and raging teenagers with guns. Yet, when we take time to shut the world out a few minutes everyday, and read the Word of God, we can find comfort in the truth that God is still God! Those worries are not for us to figure out. Just be still and see what the Lord can do! Someday, He is going to come and make everything that’s wrong in this world, right!

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalms 46:10

We need quiet moments in our lives so we can see God’s miracles. Four months ago, my husband was in the final phase of his cancer treatments (read Gabe’s cancer story here). During that time, my life was crazy. I pretty much felt like a single mom as my husband was often too sick to partake in normal “daddy duties”. During those crazy days, I was too busy to see the miracles God was performing. It wasn’t until it was all over, and I found myself sitting in a quiet empty house, that the reality of our situation really hit me. My husband had survived cancer – twice! And although we struggled more financially than we ever had, we somehow not only survived, but thrived!

“It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord .” – Lamentations 3:26

We need quiet moments in our lives so God can give us confidence for our future. In Isaiah chapter 30, God warns Israel to not seek help from the Egyptians. He warns them that if they do, it will be to their own detriment. God advised Israel that their safety relied not in running for their lives, but in staying in the quietness of where they were.

Sometimes, we need to rest in the quietness of where we are. The shadows of our future can easily alarm us, causing us to fear tomorrow. We become tempted to follow the worlds solutions, rather than following God’s Word. Don’t give in to that temptation. Instead, wait quietly in the silence of where God has you now. Listen to His voice, and follow His Word. In doing this, we can have confidence in our tomorrows!

“For thus saith the Lord God , the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.” – Isaiah 30:15

They say that silence is golden. I have yet to experience the physical riches of silence! I have learned, however, that there are many spiritual benefits to having a quiet moment.

A Year Ago

A year ago today, I had no idea that our family was about to embark on a journey that would forever change our lives. I had no idea that just a few short days into 2017, my husband would be diagnosed with colon cancer. I never would have guessed that it would be a year filled with private tears, and worry.

A year ago today, I had no idea how good our God is! I had no idea how far the reach of His comforting arms extended! Never did I expect the honor of witnessing the miracles He performed, just for us! A year ago today, I had no idea how much God really cared for and loved me. I had never experienced such great, unexplainable peace in the midst of great chaos!

A year ago today, I didn’t understand that in order to shine brightly for God, you have to be surrounded by darkness.

I didn’t know that God could use you for His glory during the hardest of your trials and struggles. I didn’t understand that when we are in our weakest state, that is when our God is strongest! Never would I have guessed that walking with the Saviour in 2017 would be the sweetest walk I would ever experience!

Today, I am facing the future of 2018. Sometimes, I look ahead in trepidation, wondering what surprises are lurking in its dark corners. Yet, the fear doesn’t last very long because all I have to do is think back to a year ago and remember how God saw us through the most difficult journey of our lives. 2018 will hold it’s trials, and who knows, maybe they will be more difficult than what we have already faced! I know that I can trust God, however, to be right there with me, from the start of the journey, all the way to the very end!

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

Thank you, dear readers, for joining me in my discoveries of God’s goodness and mercy in 2017! I hope and pray you all have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! And whatever is in store for your 2018, I pray you claim the promise of God’s peace!

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27

(Photograph taken by Kasey Photography)

Meditation Monday – All is Calm?

When singing the Christmas hymn, “Silent Night”, I have always pictured peace. A night where the stars twinkled brightly, and the cool air was calm. Yet, reality more than likely tells a different story!

The barn was probably smelly and the animals dirty. Did Joseph have to clean out a stall before he made a bed for Mary in the dirty hay? Were they afraid of being caught in someone’s barn? Mary was probably exauhsted and in pain after giving birth!

Despite the reality of the situation, the world looks on the account of Christ’s birth with reverence and wonder. No one seems to dwell on the hardships that Mary and Joseph faced that night. All we see from scripture is their great faith and trust in God.

On a night that was filled with fear, God brought peace. On a night that seemed chaotic, God brought calm. On a night that must have felt lonely, God threw a celebration!

Why not trust God in your lonely, chaotic, and fearful night?

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:7‭-‬16″

What Cancer Taught Us

It is early morning, and as I write this, my house is gloriously quiet.  My older children are still sleeping, but I hear whispers from my younger boys room.  Gabe is still sound asleep, the effects of chemo having drained his body.  Sipping my steaming mug of coffee, words are beginning to form in my heart, and the urgency to write becomes too strong for me to avoid any longer.

This past Wednesday was Gabe’s last chemo treatment.  We walked into the cancer clinic with high spirits and big smiles.  We are praying that a scan he had Monday will declare my husband NED (no evidence detected), and then this chapter in our lives can be over.  The story won’t be over, however.

Once cancer has touched your life so closely, it never completely leaves your life.

There will always be tests and blood work.  The knowledge that a recurrence could happen at any time will always linger in the back of our minds.

However, we won’t be consumed by our story, because we will be too busy living it.

Before the chemo was able to get it’s gripping arms around my husbands body, we celebrated by going out for lunch.  As we ate, we talked of all God had done for us in the last chapter of our lives.  What did we learn?  How would our lives be different? What advice would we give others?

This morning, I realized I HAD to share just a few things we learned in the last two years.  I hope that maybe it can help someone else going through a difficult time in their life.

What Cancer Taught Us

1 – The most important thing we learned from cancer is that “there is no pit that is so deep, that God is not deeper still”.  I  had grown up hearing that phrase quoted from the pulpit of my church, but I never really understood the meaning until I found myself in a pit.  Those first weeks after my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer were the most emotional I had ever experienced in my life.  Those were days I would come home from taking my kids to school and just cry.  Not just a few tears, but gut-wrenching cries, where I was on my knees, sobbing, begging God to heal my husband.  Where the fear that I would become a single mother was so real, I was in full-blown panic mode.  I remember during those days, watching my husband sit on the couch, immune to the chaos and noise of our children around him.  Watching him stare off into space, I wasn’t sure if he was thinking, or in shock, but I would see tears slipping down his cheeks.  Those days were hard.  Those days, we were most certainly in a deep, dark pit.  Yet, just when we thought we couldn’t get any deeper, God would reveal Himself to us in some small way.  Whether it was comforting scripture that would come to mind, or a text from a dear friend, God was certainly there in the pit with us.  Cards, gifts, phone calls, hugs, and hundreds of christian brothers and sisters in Christ, some we didn’t even know, offering to pray for us, were all gifts from our loving God.  Gifts that brought us such comfort, that gave us such strength, we eventually found we were no longer in that pit.  How wonderful our God is!

2 – We also learned that you should never waste time questioning God.  It’s hard to see what purpose could come from difficult trials in our lives, but be assured, God has a plan!  And while you are stuck on trying to understand why God would allow this trial into your life, you are wasting precious time that God wants to use to bless you, and bring you closer to Him!  He loves you so deeply, and doesn’t want you to go through your trial alone.  He wants to bring you close to Himself, to hide you under His wings, to comfort you.  God can’t do those things if you are too busy wondering what His thoughts and plans are.  You have to just let go, and trust Him completely. Once you let go, you will be flooded with peace that you won’t be able to explain!

3- Lastly, My husband and I learned that you just can’t go through something as difficult as cancer without God.  Don’t wait until you are facing a trial in your life to build a relationship with God.  Read your Bible and speak to God in prayer every day.  Go to church.  Fellowship as much as you can with your brothers and sisters in Christ.  Don’t allow your trial to keep you from doing the things God wants you to do.  Just don’t!  I have seen people, suffering from life’s hard blows, remove themselves from God and His people, because they were too overwhelmed by their circumstances.  Instead of making life easier for themselves, they only made their circumstances harder to bear.  God never intended us to go through hard times alone.  He wants to envelope us in His love and grace.  He wants to reveal Himself to us in such personal ways, we could never again doubt His love and care for us.  Yet how can God do that if we are backing away from Him?  Don’t leave God in a trial, and don’t wait until your are in the middle of one to build a relationship with Him.  Draw close to Him now.  Remain faithful to God now.  Allow Him to bless you in your trials.

So here we are, at the end of this long journey.  Yet, now that we are at the end, it seems as though maybe it wasn’t that long after all.  The valley was hard, but the fellowship with God along the way was very sweet!

Overcoming Anxiety Series #3 – What Does God Think About Anxiety?

What if I were to tell you that Jesus may have had anxiety?  In Hebrews 4:15, we are told that Jesus was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”  Not everyone suffers from true anxiety, but I believe I could argue that Jesus experienced anxiety at least once.

Picture Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He knew He was about to be betrayed by a close friend. He knew He was going to be given an unfair trial, beaten mercilessly, and cruelly put to death.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” – Luke 22:44

There is a rare condition called Hematidrosis, in which a person will sweat blood.  It is not known what actually causes this condition, but it has been known to happen under extreme cases of fear or stress.

In the first article on Overcoming Anxiety, I explained the possible causes of anxiety.  For some, anxiety can come from a spiritual need, or lack of spiritual strength.  For others, anxiety can be borne from a physical illness. Lastly, anxiety can be brought on by mental illness or stress.

While I don’t believe Jesus was afraid, I truly believe He was under great stress.  I have wondered if this was the moment He began to carry the weight of sin for the entire world!  How did Jesus respond to anxiety?  He prayed, and He continued on with His task.

So what does God think about anxiety?

God wants you to come to come to Him with your anxiety. Philippians 4:6 – “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”  Psalm 55:22 – “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”

God wants you to trust Him.   Psalm 56:3 – “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”  Proverbs 3:5&6 – “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

God wants you to love Him perfectly.  1 John 4:18 – “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteh out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”

God wants to give you strength. Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

God doesn’t want you to be afraid. Joshua 1:9 – “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

God wants to take care of your needs.  Philippians 4:19 – “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

God wants to give you peace.  John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

God wants to give you rest.  Psalm 4:8 – “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.”  Matthew 11:28 – “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

God wants to give you power over your anxiety.2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

God wants you to think on lovely things.  Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

God wants you to praise Him despite your anxiety.  Colossians 3:15 – “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”  Psalms 56:4 – “In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.”

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I sincerely pray that this series has been a help to some Christian struggling with anxiety. In the future I plan to add to this series, “Overcoming Anxiety“, so stay tuned!