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!

 

 

Tips to Overcoming a Panic Attack

If you are anxiety sufferer, you know the classic signs of anxiety. Tightness in your chest, palpitations, headaches, tummy upset, trembling hands, and week legs. These are all classic symptoms of anxiety. I should know. I’ve had them all before.

I’m so thankful that I’m not new to this story, and that I know what to do when I feel a panic attack coming on. I thought I would share with you some tips that can help you overcome a panic attack.

1. Know your symptoms. Everyone is different. For me, I know I’m about to have a panic attack if my chest starts feeling a little tight. At that moment, if I take the time to do the steps below, I can avoid it.

2. Breathe deeply. At the first sign of a coming panic attack, stop what you are doing and focus on breathing. Breathe in through your nose counting to 5 very slowly. Then let the breath out slowly through your mouth, counting to 7. Repeat this five times.

3. Quote scripture. Everyone should have a verse of scripture that they call “theirs”. Something that can bring comfort to an anxious mind. Here’s mine:

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

4. Distract yourself. The worst thing to do when you feel a panic attack coming on is to focus on how you feel. Go outside for a few minutes and take a quick walk. Start up a conversation with your husband, or call your mom. Break the cycle of panic with distraction.

5. Essential Oils. I don’t sell oils, but I’ve been using them since before they were ever popular. I found a blend from Young Living called “Peace and Calming”, and I love it. I don’t know if it’s just a placebo for me or what, but the scent of this particular oil really does help me feel calm. When I feel anxiety coming in, I rub some over my heart, on my wrists, and under my earlobes.

6. Pray. If you know why this anxiety attack started to come on, share your burden with Jesus. He really does care! Leave your cares and worry at His feet. Pour your heart and tears out before Him. He’s listening!

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7

7. Reflect. Once you are past the tense and anxious moment, think back on why you think you had it. Maybe you need to slow your schedule down a little, or change your attitude about something. Search for a Biblical and practical solution to whatever is causing you stress. Sometimes, just talking to a like-minded Christian friend can be enough to encourage you!

I hope these tips help you the next time you are about to have a panic attack!

Meditation Monday – His Burden is Light

Are you feeling weighted down by what is on your schedule for today? Why not take your heavy burden filled with the cares and expectations of today, and exchange it for God’s lighter burden of love, joy, and peace? When you drop to your knees and give your day to the Lord, you are emptying your sack of all the burdens of today. Reading His Word fills your sack with God’s precious promises! 

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.   Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.   For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28‭-‬30

Overcoming Anxiety Series #2 – Six Helps for Christians With Anxiety.

For the Christian, I believe the hardest part of overcoming anxiety is recognizing that it even exists.  As a believer, we know that there is peace to be found in Christ.  Scripture tells us that the load He has for us to bear is easy and light.  We are reminded to lay our burdens at the feet of Christ.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

So is it wrong for a Christian to have anxiety?

Well,  yes….and no.

Luke 16:13 tells us “no servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

If we are going to carry Christ’s burden, which He promised was easy and light, we are going to have to lay down the burdens and cares of the world.  It is when we try to carry around both, that we often find ourselves struggling with stress and anxiety.

Remember, though, that Jesus said He will lighten our burdens, not remove them.  When I speak of “overcoming anxiety”, I am not trying to imply that we can get rid of it for good.   For the Christian, it is how we live with anxiety that helps us overcome it.

6 HELPS FOR CHRISTIANS WITH ANXIETY

  1. Remain Faithful to God. – The most important step a Christian with anxiety can do, is to remain faithful to God.  Don’t allow anxiety to take you out of church! I often found that when I forced myself to go to church, the singing and preaching was enough to distract me out of my near panic attacks.  If you have not already been faithful in your Bible reading and prayer time, now is the time to make that a habit!
  2. Think of Others. – The worst thing a Christian with anxiety can do, is to think about how they are feeling. Thinking about how horrible we feel, only intensifies our feelings and sucks us into unhealthy thought patterns.  The best remedy for self-thinking, is thinking of others.  Make a prayer list of others who are in difficult situations.  Bake some bread for a sick neighbor, bring some cookies to your local fire department, or write some get-well cards to sick church members.  Make it your daily goal to do something kind for someone else.
  3. Change Your Health Habits. – This is the hardest advice for me to follow, but it certainly is true.  Having healthy habits can reduce the severity of anxiety.  Making healthy eating choices can increase the amounts of vitamins and minerals our bodies need to stay healthy.  Exercising releases endorphin’s that not only make us feel good, but reduces stress.  Talking to an herbalist or nutritionist can also help.  Taking natural supplements your body may be lacking can not only decrease the duration of anxiety, it can help us remain healthy in countless other ways!
  4. Slow Down! – We live in a fast-paced society where there is always something to do.  Gone are the days where the family sits on the front porch in the evenings to listen to the crickets sing.  Instead, we are bustling our children from one activity to the next, feeling obligated to attend every birthday party, and every event offered. As Christians, we need to have a balance in our lives.  Make sure you carve out time for some rest and relaxation, at least once a week!  Family movie or game nights are great ways to have a relaxing evening!  Maybe relaxing to you is a day spent on a trail at the park, or walking through the mall.  However you decide to slow down, don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about it.
  5. Stay Busy! – Yes, I know, I just told you to slow down!  But I didn’t mean for you to slow your mind down.  When we find ourselves in endless cycles of worry, we need to direct our thoughts on other things.  Listening to music or audio books are great ways to keep your mind busy while going about your daily tasks.  Gardening, crafting, playing a musical instrument, taking an exercise class, writing in a journal, or walking around the block are other ways you can stay busy and focused.
  6. Surround Yourself with Positivity – It is important to remember that “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine”!  While it is not possible, nor practical, to be “merry” all day long, you can surround yourself with positivity.  It is easy for anyone suffering from anxiety to go into seclusion from the world.  While it’s not a bad idea to turn off Fox News and talk radio, it is a bad idea to cut yourself off from friends and family.  Now is the time, more than ever, that you need be around merry hearts!  One word of caution, however, is to be careful to limit your time with those who “enable” you to be negative, or dwell on your anxiety.

While I still have days where anxiety rears it’s ugly head, I am able to overcome it and still get on with my day.  If I go to Christ right away, He always makes it bearable, and He will give me rest from it.

 

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If this article has helped encourage you, please be sure to share it with someone else who may also struggle with anxiety.  Be sure to tune in next week for “Overcoming Anxiety Series #3 – What Does God Think About Anxiety?”

When You Want to Escape

Are you experiencing a difficulty in your life that you want to escape from? Living in denial of its very existence? Trying to pack it into a small box so you can hide it in the darkest corner of your mind?

In case you wondered how I managed to describe evasion of life’s problems so well, it is because

 I happen to be the queen of denial, the diva of distraction, and an expert in avoidance. 

Don’t want to think about the event you commited to being in charge of because it suddenly became scary and unrealistic? No problem! Make some dark chocolate brownies and play Monopoly Jr. with your seven- year -old. The chocolate will numb your emotions while your child’s inability to cope with losing will distract you from the reality of your situation!

All humor aside, it is common to find yourself in a place you would rather not be. While the easy solution is avoidance, denial, and distraction, it is not always the right thing to do.

King David found himself longing to “flee as a bird to his mountain” when life became difficult. Yet he knew it was not the right thing to do. He knew God had promised to get him through the difficult time.

“In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?’ – Psalms 11:1

Why should I trust God?

He promised to shield us away from life’s impossible situations. To not give us more than we could bear. He promised to comfort us, and hold us in His hand. To never cast us down when we fail. He promised to be our rock to cling to in the storms of our lives, and to hide us under His wing. He promised to never let a trial be a waste, but to make it into good. Most importantly, God promised that NOTHING would ever seperate us from His love.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.” – Psalms 28:7

So whatever it is in your life that makes you want to run away, remember a few things:

1. This trial won’t last forever.

2. You can run away, but your trial will probably follow you.

3. God will help you face it. You can trust Him!

Abundant Little Blessings

Summer is here! And despite a few minor setbacks due to my reaction to stress (anyone else allergic to stress?) and Gabe’s port failing, our family has been able to enjoy the first official week of no school. This week marks the end of phase 1 in Gabe’s treatment. Radiation and chemo begins on Monday.

Although it was hard to deal with the setbacks, I am very grateful that we experienced them.

For it was through the difficult moments that God decided to show Himself to me in abundant little ways.

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think….” – Ephesians 3:20a

From gifts handed to us at church on Sunday, packages sent in the mail stuffed with gift cards on Tuesday, texts and email messages from friends near and far all week long, and the extraordinary kindness of neighbors, God was pretty busy this week.  Not to mention bumping into friends at parks, and hour-long phone conversations with family and friends offering hope and prayers. All of these little blessings added up to be one extraordinary message from God. He was thinking of us.

We kicked off the summer last night with the family getting ice cream after church. Since Gabe is not having any of the side effects of his chemo right now, he thought it would be a good idea to get a taste of ice cream before the chemo starts again. (I don’t know why he’s making this face, but he did it on all five pictures we took!)

Don’t underestimate God’s thoughts of you. When life gets stressful, He’s thinking of you, and He really wants you to know it!

“How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.” – Psalms 139:17‭-‬18