It might have been a beautiful sunny day outside, but in my heart was a storm that wouldn’t go away. I well remember that feeling of panic when my heart felt like it was beating 200 beats/min and I couldn’t breath. It was one of the scariest things I have ever experienced. I didn’t know then that I was having a panic attack. I was dealing with a serious amount of anxiety and couldn’t shake the feeling that bugs were crawling all over my skin. My chest always felt tight, and I was exhausted from trying to push myself through the tunnel of anxiety while trying to carry on with life. If you are experiencing something like this, take heart because you are not alone.
Anxiety can be a scary thing. It can take over your life to the point where it controls your every decision and steals your joy completely. Here are several things that can help to manage anxiety in your life and prevent it from taking over:
- Uncovering the source of your anxiety begins by examining the things you say to yourself, or your “self-talk.” As I began to pay attention to the thoughts I was having (the things I was saying to myself), I was shocked to realize that I was saying things I wouldn’t say to a complete stranger. Statements like, “You aren’t good enough,” and “You don’t have what it takes.” When I became aware of this self-talk, I was able to replace those thoughts with more truthful statements like, “You are good enough because Jesus has taken your sins away,” and “You are capable because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.” My anxiety began to fade when I put this into practice. You can experience this help, as well, by starting to write down your random thoughts throughout the day. You may be surprised at what you say to yourself. Then, think of truthful thoughts to counteract each negative thought. The Bible has many promises that can help you identify truthful thoughts to counteract the negative ones. Here are some examples:
- Stand back and observe the circumstances of your life, like a third person. When you do this, you are able to become more objective about the stressors in your life and realize where you can reduce some of the stress that might be contributing to your anxiety. Ask yourself: is this necessary, beneficial, AND helpful to me and/or my family? God promises to give us wisdom when we need it, so ask Him to help you determine the right priorities and know which things to stop that might be contributing to your anxiety. (James 1:5)
- Antidepressant medications can help you manage anxiety. Antidepressants are becoming the most commonly prescribed medications for anxiety because they do not cause the same addictions like those caused by medications like Xanax or Valium. When taking Xanax or Valium, use it sparingly and only when the anxiety is interrupting your activities. Using it daily can create a physical dependence that is difficult to wean from. There are supplements, such as kava kava, St. John’s Wort, and valerian root, that may help with persistent anxiety. Always check with your physician before taking a supplement or combining it with other medications you take.
- Mental health counseling can also be very effective in helping to determine the cause of underlying anxiety. There may be subconscious belief systems that are causing your inner tension, for instance, the need to be perfect or the need to please everyone in your life. Oftentimes, once you realize these subconscious belief systems, you can then become empowered to change those beliefs into more realistic ones, which will in turn, change your thoughts and self-talk, and decrease the amount of anxiety you are experiencing. Examples of false and corresponding true belief systems are:
- Try writing your thoughts in a journal regularly. Emotions that build internally can result in tension that expresses itself physically. If you can get these emotions out, whether by writing about them or expressing them verbally to someone else, you may find that your anxiety decreases. Especially focus on journaling about your negative emotions. These are, of course, the ones that give us the most trouble. Try to journal when you are angry, sad, or feeling hopeless. Oftentimes, just having expressed those emotions in written form will make you feel better internally.
- Create a support system of friends and family to help you manage the stress and circumstances causing your anxiety. Choose a close friend or family member you trust to call when you are feeling anxious. Don’t try to manage the anxiety on your own. We are not independent beings. We need each other to help and encourage one another along the way.
- Know that even when you feel alone, you are never alone! God Himself has promised to never leave us and never forsake us even if we have completely messed our lives up! (Hebrews 13:1) He truly is in the business of restoring hope and redeeming broken lives! Do you remember the story of the woman caught having an affair? (John 8:3-11) The leaders of the day brought her to Jesus and were ready to stone her to death. What did Jesus do? Did He condemn her and take part in stoning her? NO! He knew her past, protected her from death, and encouraged her to live a new life (minus the same sinful lifestyle) from then on! He does the same for us today, and He promises to love us, take care of us, guide us, and one day bring us home to live with Him in Heaven! That my dear friend, gives peace! Let your mind soak up these promises, and refer to them frequently when you are feeling anxious. Write God’s promises out on note cards and post them on your mirrors so you will remember them daily.
- If you are experiencing panic attacks, try some of these things when you feel a panic attack starting:
While anxiety can threaten to take over your life, God’s powerful truths and promises can be the buoy that keeps you afloat in the storms of life. His Word will anchor you so you don’t drift out to sea and get tossed about when the waves get rough. Life is hard, there is no denying that fact, but with God’s help, you will make it. God can calm the storms in your heart.
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Disclaimer: The author and God-Living with Chronic Illness do not receive any compensation for references to specific products, ideas, people, or websites. The ideas posted are not intended as medical advice and should not be taken as such in place of your physician’s recommendations.
Hi! My Name is Laurie, and I am a wife, mom, nurse, and patient living with fibromyalgia. I understand first-hand what life is like with chronic pain and illness. My passion is to help provide others with the spiritual encouragement and resources that I so desperately needed when I was first diagnosed. Please join us on the blog and Facebook page for regular encouragement and hope. Welcome!