5 Strategies for Anxiety

I’ve always seen myself as a strong person.

I’m up for a challenge. I don’t get scared. I’m not timid. I travel the world, will talk to anyone, and am always up for an adventure. Given that, I was really caught off-guard a few years ago when seemingly out of nowhere, I experienced a physical feeling of absolute terror. I felt like I was hyper-ventilating…out of control…racing thoughts…A panic attack?

“This is not ME!” I wanted to shout.

As I mentor young women, the most common confession I hear from them is that they are dealing with some degree of anxiety. It is hardly surprising given the speed of our lives, the conflict in our nation, and the 24/7 bombardment of noise. Add in the gray drear of February in MN and you have a perfect depression cocktail!

I know there’s no quick fix, and I’m not a trained therapist, but I thought I’d share what I tell myself and others when anxiety or depression creep around like a stealthy jaguar waiting to pounce.

  1. Get help. You are not alone. There is no shame in what you’re feeling. Set up an appointment with your doctor and a Christian counselor. Do your part (including getting medication if that’s what your doctor recommends) and trust God to do His.
  2. Slow down – say “no”, observe Sabbath, get sleep. What are the guard rails you have in place to protect yourself?
  3. Turn off the things that amp your anxiety – news, tv. books. Pay attention to what’s going on when you are most anxious.
  4. Lean in to relationships, experiences, and practices that bring life and peace. Make a list now. Praise music, exercise, an encouraging friend, getting outside? Our friend Mark Batterson reminds me:
  5. Affirm the truth. Satan is a lying liar and can distort anything. What are the lies you hear in your head when you’re most anxious? “You’re worthless”, “You can’t do this”, “You’re all alone – this is all on you” ? List them and then go to God’s Word and write down statements of truth (1 Peter 2:6; Psalm 32:7; Psalm 3:3;  Psalm 51:12; Philippians 4:7; Psalm 71:20;  Psalm 41:11; James 1:2-5; Psalm 37:23-24; 1 John 4:4; Hebrews 4:16; 1 Kings 8:28;  Psalm 91:4; James 4:7-8)

Lastly, a couple of resources for anxiety reducing practices:

Abide is a guided prayer app that I use. You can choose the topic, choose background music (or a rushing stream like I have), and the person praying (there are definitely some I like better than others). Some of the prayers are more like Lectio Divina, and some are Examen prayers.

Breath prayer – Breathe in a name for God. Breathe out the desire of your heart. Example: Prince of Peace…Calm my anxious heart.

Those are my thoughts. What would you add? What has been helpful to you?

 

8 Comments

  1. Thank you Laura for sharing this today. It is exactly what I needed to hear today. Breath in, breath out, pray. Xoxo

    • So glad it was timely for you Andrea! I know it’s challenging! A friend recently said “I now understand why people talk about BATTLING depression! It definitely is a battle.” Thankfully we know we have a God who fights for us.

  2. A 1969 book called, Hope and Help for Your Nerves by Claire Weeks is excellent. My psychologist friend in MSP told me it has changed her practice with anxious clients. It’s about embracing the attack and learning how to live through it.

  3. Laura,
    Thank you for this encouraging, supporting message for
    those of us that do get anxious. For me, it’s usually hidden for sure
    as I put my “everything is under control” look on at work, church, and social
    situations. It is tiring to “pretend” sometimes but I often don’t
    want to be transparent and “show the world” how I am feeling inside.

    I know most (all?) of my anxiousness is because I still want to
    hold onto things and not just let God lead. I often wonder……how many times must
    I pray to let everything go before it truly happens more than a few days/weeks at a time? THAT is the question I wrestle with!!

    • Thanks so much for sharing this response with everyone Susan. I think so many of us can relate to your feelings – we love control and even if we don’t have it, we want to project “everything’s fine!”

      • Thanks for listing all the Bible verses, Laura! I have written in my journal all of the chapters/verses and am now reading each verse and then writing it in my own words to refer back to in the future. God has a lot to tell us, doesn’t He, about trusting Him and relying on Him for peace , protection, guidance, and support. All we need to do is just believe in His Word to guide and lead us!

        • So, so glad they are an encouragement! Another help I’ve found (that I haven’t used recently) is an app called Scripture Typer. I put in verses I want to try to memorize (so hard for me!) and go over them that way.

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