Overcoming the Crippling Effects of Anxiety
Anxiety knows no bounds, does not discriminate by age, and can wear many different hats. Vance Havner said, “Worry, like a rocking chair, will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Let’s explore the effects of anxiety and how you can break free.
The face of anxiety
A child who lost a parent or best friend and their world has not been the same since. They might be riddled with thoughts of losing someone else.
A successful professional who meets deadlines, works vigorously, and is constantly being promoted because their work ethic is seen and valued. They might also be dealing with constantly trying to meet unrealistic expectations they have set for themselves because they were raised in an emotionally abusive home where they were told they would never amount to anything.
A person who has a difficult time keeping a job or putting their all into relationships because they feel paralyzed with intrusive thoughts and what-ifs. They might find it difficult to see beyond the potential and imagine everything that could go wrong. They might find it easier to keep to themselves and stay in a hypothetical bubble because it feels safer and takes less of a toll on their emotions and constant concerns.
A stay-at-home mother who is constantly putting others’ needs above her own. She might be struggling with postpartum anxiety, where she is battling borderline obsessive feelings and fretting over every little detail/every potential threat to her child. She might constantly be checking her child’s breathing, googling symptoms that her baby is showing, and always imagining the worst-case scenario.
Anxiety often feels like a little voice that is difficult to tame. It might get louder and louder over time and feel nearly impossible to escape.
- “Did I turn that light off?”
- “Did I do a good job?”
- “Are they mad at me?”
- “What if I did something wrong?”
- “Will I be able to find a close parking spot, so I feel safe walking in?”
- “Is my husband going to get in a disagreement with my controlling parents because he’s trying to protect me?”
- “Am I doing enough?”
- “Am I a good enough parent?”
- “What if my husband gets in a car accident?”
- “What if someone tries to bully my child?”
Common Effects of Anxiety
Anxiety differs from everyday worries when it becomes cloud-like . . . it looms, it takes away your sunshine, it masks your ability to just pause and appreciate the everyday moments of life.
- Isolating, or withdrawing from social situations
- Always imagining the worst-case scenario
- Trouble falling asleep/trouble sleeping
- Unexpected or unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Strong feelings of irritability
- Holding back in relationships
- Feeling agitated or unable to relax
- Physical health concerns like headaches, body aches, etc.
- Having an upset stomach/nausea/digestive problems
- Substance abuse problems
- Acting out/aggression
If you currently struggle with anxiety, know this: you are not alone. Take a second to pause and take a deep breath. If you are new to feelings of anxiety and are constantly worrying and imagining the worst-case scenario, know that it doesn’t have to be this way forever. There is hope.
Anxiety can stem from major life changes, stressful life situations, pregnancy/giving birth, personality type, family/relationship issues, past abuse/trauma, death/loss of a loved one, or other mental health conditions that you might be struggling with.
Ways to Combat Anxiety
Here are a few steps to take right now as you embark on the journey of taming the effects of anxiety and living the beautiful and hope-filled future God has for you:
Engage in calming and creative activities.
It is important to find and engage in activities that calm your body, soul, and mind. You can start by keeping a journal of your thoughts and what might be triggering your anxiety. This will give you a better idea of the root of what is truly going on.
You can also embrace your inner creativity and engage in a project where you can use that anxious energy for good. Learn a new skill, take yoga, paint, craft, start writing the book, join the local soccer team, go for a scenic run while exploring God’s beautiful creation.
Take care of your body.
An overlooked element when it comes to anxiety is making sure your basic physical needs are being met. Make sure you are trying to get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of water, and move your body every day.
Take it to the Lord.Talking to Jesus, reciting Scripture, proclaiming God’s promises over your life, finding an accountability partner, and getting plugged into a church are some of the most important things you can and will do to combat anxiety. Write down Bible verses and post them in your purse, on your nightstand, at your desk, and everywhere that can you think of!
When anxiety tries to steal your joy, recite those verses so you can begin reframing your thought patterns. Anxiety does not and will not continue to steal your victories. You are more than your anxious thoughts. You are more than what is weighing you down.
When anxiety says “you can’t do this,” remember Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Say it aloud and put your heart into it.
Make an anxiety kit.
Make up an anxiety kit and keep it nearby for when you need it! Include items that can help alleviate the effects of anxiety. The goal is to have items that will help take you back to a calm and comfortable place.
- Soothing music
- Stress ball
- Essential oils
- Bubble wrap (popping bubble wrap is soothing for many)
- Clickable pen (clicking a pen is soothing for some people)
- Water bottle (dehydration leads to higher levels of anxiety)
- Tea packets (there are a variety of teas for stress and anxiety)
- Earplugs/noise-canceling headphones (for the person who becomes overstimulated and over-activated and needs to find their calm)
Try to include things that will help all your five senses.
If not addressed, anxiety can be debilitating with severe side effects – it can leave you feeling physically ill and emotionally and spiritually worn down. Today is the perfect time to take the next step in your journey by scheduling a counseling session with a Christian counselor. We would love to aid you in reframing your thinking and helping you learn positive coping skills and mechanisms to deal with the effects of anxiety.
Scriptures for Combatting Anxiety and Stress
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. – Romans 8:38-39
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. – Psalm 94:19
An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. – Proverbs 12:25
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:34
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? – Matthew 6:27
I want you to be free from anxieties. – 1 Corinthians 7:32
Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” – Isaiah 35:4
Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. – Philippians 4:6
“Contemplation”, Courtesy of Kevin Turcios, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Barely Making It”, Courtesy of Anh Nguyen, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Migraine”, Courtesy of Siavash Ghanbari, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Reading”, Courtsy of Thought Catalog, Unsplash.com, CC0 License