Anxiety is defined as: a (1) : apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill : a state of being anxious (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
*Disclaimer: I take a natural approach to treating my anxiety but I also recognize that sometimes medical intervention is necessary. If you feel like you cannot function in your day to day life or have thoughts of self-harm please, PLEASE get the appropriate medical care that you need. I think that asking for help makes you strong and you should treat your anxiety the way you feel is necessary.*
Anxiety. Sometimes it gives you a heads-up before it hits and then, more often than not, it creeps up on you and hits you like a ton of bricks. I have always been a worrier but never really felt the grip of anxiety until after I had children. After my firstborn, I would worry about everything and I wasn’t able to rest without my heart pounding and mind racing. I would break down and cry and not really know why I was crying. I realized quickly that the issue was anxiety and I would have to lean on Jesus as I dealt with its grips on my heart and life. Thankfully, my severe anxiety got better and it only rears its ugly head every once in a while, but when it does it doesn't play fair.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S, affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.”
Anxiety affects a LOT of people and if you randomly asked a handful of people on the street if they deal with anxiety, I bet that almost all of them would say that they do deal with anxiety from time to time or many of them might even say that is consumes their life.
What causes anxiety?
I think that anxiety is caused by a lot of different things. Whether your anxiety is stemming from a fast-paced, high stress life, a hormonal and/or chemical imbalance, anxious thoughts that the devil is throwing at you, or even if something traumatic happened to you that wrecked your world and haunts you to the core, you're not alone.
Personally, my anxiety comes from the following: postpartum hormones returning to normal along with my hormones in general, stress (work +two kids under two + life), and issues/areas of my life that I legitimately fret about. Those few areas of my life tend to cause my anxiety and keep me up at night. As I have asked God to help me and give me wisdom on where my anxiety is stemming from, He has shown me that a lot of my anxiety comes from my need to be in control. I start to panic when I feel like a situation is out of my hands. I often have to remind myself, and maybe you need this reminder too, that we are not in control.
We never have been and never will be.
God is in control.
Louie Giglio said it best in his book Goliath Must Fall when he stated that, "For me, understanding that anxiety is not a thing, but a symptom of something(s), has been a game changer in dealing with the enemies of God's glory in my life." (His emphasis)
This is not sponsored in any way, although that would be awesome because he is one of my favorite speakers, you can visit https://passioncitychurch.com to get yourself and a friend a copy of his awesome book Goliath Must Fall. That book was a game-changer for me and helped me more than I can explain!
Even if we are fully relying on God and know that He is in control, anxiety can still be present in our lives. Almost everyone you meet has probably had a run-in with anxiety at some point in their life. I want to share ten ways that I deal with my anxiety. These ten ways work for me and you may have ten different ways you deal with yours. However you're battling your anxiety, I pray that these ways will be helpful to you and I would love to know how you deal with your anxiety.
1. Pray + Spend Time With God
There are times when my anxiety is 110% caused by me. I forget the importance of spending time with God and asking Him to uplift my heart. When I am not filling my mind and heart and soul with good, Biblical truths, it leaves a lot of room for the bad, anxious, discouraging thoughts to take the drivers seat in my mind, heart and soul. When we stop looking to God for guidance and encouragement we will start to look around at all the bad in the world and anxiety is sure to follow.
2. Sweat It Out
I started running about three and a half months ago because I needed to burn off my stress and anxiety and knew that I had to do SOMETHING. I think that everyone should physically exert themselves beyond their day to day activities because it is healthy and it helps boost your endorphins (the chemicals that react with the receptors in your brain and make you feel euphoric AKA great). Find a fun dance class to take at your local gym, walk around your neighborhood or start training for your first 5K. There are tons of options out there for you to try! You will be surprised at how great it makes you feel physically and mentally!
3. Talk To Your Support System
Sharing my anxious thoughts and fears with my husband is extremely helpful as anxiety tends to make you unreasonable and that makes me want to keep everything bottled up inside. I know that when I talk to my husband he can calmly and clearly think through what I have confided in him and show me that it is not as big and scary as it is making me feel. Your support system may be your parents, best friend, husband, fiancé, or mentor! Whomever you trust and confide in is the person you should talk to and let them know what you're feeling. Speaking the anxiety into existence by word of mouth and actually laying your worries out on the table is therapeutic and helps you not hold all those worries and fears in until you have a major breakdown.
4. Take Care Of Your Body
As I mentioned before, exercise is extremely important in general but even more important when you're dealing with anxiety. Besides exercise, eating a well-balanced diet and taking supplements that work for you is crucial. When I decided that our family was going to be healthy and make better choices for the bodies God so graciously gave us, I started with small changes. We cut out processed foods, incorporated more fruits and veggies, and try to keep our sugar consumption low. Eat foods and take vitamins that work for you and that make you healthy! I am not a "one diet or supplement" for all kind of gal. I don't follow a specific diet or take mainstream supplements. Find what works for you and go with it!
5. Keep Yourself Busy
During my first really difficult season of anxiety, God taught me a lot of valuable lessons that I am so grateful for. One of those lessons was to keep myself busy and goal-oriented. Being a stay-at-home mom can get very monotonous very quickly. Doing the same things everyday will get to everyone at some point whether you're going to work everyday or staying home or going to your college classes. My grandmother used to say, "Idle hands are the devils handiwork." The Bible talks a lot about working hard and not letting slothfulness (laziness) take over your life. I started making a list each day of the list of things I wanted to accomplish and stayed determined to keep myself productive even when I didn't mentally feel like it. Crossing things off my list each day always made me feel so much better as I realized that I had a purpose and that being a wife + mom is a super busy job!
Those are the five ways that I deal with my anxiety. I would love to hear how you deal with yours and would also love to know how I can pray for you! Anxiety can be crippling and it can steal precious days of your life, but I believe that God can deliver us from the grips of anxiety and give us a lot of wisdom along the way!
Praying for you, friend!