In undergrad I battled anxiety to the point of insomnia and panic attacks. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert, but I can relate to how debilitating and isolating it can feel. Every so often, my anxious tendencies creep back in, but I have learned how to prevent and manage it in a way that works (at least, for me). I wish I had known then what I know now in order to combat it then. Also, I don’t know who needs to hear this, but anxiety is not a sin! Scripture says to cast our anxious thoughts on the Lord because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). What we do with our anxious thoughts matters, but having them is not inherently wrong; it’s inherently human.
1️⃣ Praise and worship. It might not feel like it, but just a few minutes of worship at the beginning of your day will make so much of a difference. Not only will your countenance be lifted in the moment, but you’ll be singing the songs through the rest of the day. When worship is what’s stuck in your head, your mind will stay elevated above what’s weighing you down. I love the Elevation Worship station on Pandora radio. Also, praise the Lord for the ways that He has used your battles with anxiety to help others navigate or overcome their battles. Seeing that there is purpose in the pain makes you grateful for the struggle, even in the midst of it.
2️⃣ Focus on truth. Remember how God has always come through. Keep a running list of all of the things that the Lord has brought you through to review when your anxiety is high. Journal about the instances that looked like they were negative, but turned out to be the Lord providing something you did not expect. It will give you hope that He will do the same for whatever you are going through at the present time. Find some anchor verses that speak truth about God’s goodness and His provision. Use them as weapons when Satan comes at you with lies which trigger doubt and your anxiety.
3️⃣ Talk it out. First and foremost, pray. Communicate with God exactly how you are feeling and ask Him to reveal a different perspective about circumstances that are making you anxious. Sometimes a different view of the same circumstance can ease the anxiety surrounding it. Ask others to pray for you as well. It seems cliché and trite, but it works. It may also be helpful to talk through the situation with someone you trust. Do so in a way that encourages you to focus on other things besides your anxiety. They should offer support, but not become a crutch. Make sure you choose someone who understands that your anxiety is real, serious, and not unfounded, but who will also hold you to doing everything possible to overcome it. What you don’t want is to end up circling around and around the same anxious thoughts in the conversation which will drive them deeper into your mind. You want someone who will help you get out of the rut that anxiety creates as a loop within your brain. Sometimes just having someone hold space for you allows you to feel the sense of calm you need.
4️⃣ Take action. Do what you can and don’t allow your mind to fixate on all the things you can’t change. Many times, our anxiety comes from circumstances which we feel like we have no control over. If you can find a way to do something that moves you forward, it will help. If there is absolutely nothing you can do within the circumstance itself, find something else to focus on that allows you to make a positive impact. Something that will add value to the lives of others and pull your mind into a state of gratitude for being able to make a difference. The days when I am most productive on things that add value to the Kingdom—and not just what matters in my own little bubble—are the days that I feel most peaceful.
5️⃣ See professionals. Sometimes it can be incredibly helpful to chat with a BHP (behavioral health specialist). For myself personally, it was an invaluable tool in helping me to understand why I was struggling and how to manage things. When I was dealing with these things in undergrad, I saw both a Christian counselor and a therapist that was available to me through my college. Sometimes it takes a few tries to find someone you connect with. Nowadays, BHPs are available through technology (zoom, Skype, apps), so you can find a good fit with regardless of location. Also, some people are not aware that there are underlying health conditions or nutrient deficiencies which can manifest as, contribute to, or worsen underlying anxiety. I think it’s important to see your PCP (primary care provider) and have some labs done to make sure there aren’t any contributing factors from that standpoint. Occasionally, support in the form of medication can be helpful. There have been periods in my life we are an SSRI was extremely beneficial. There are medications which are safe and non-habit-forming. Whether you need them long-term or short-term, there’s no shame in getting support in this way if it’s needed!
🎰 Bonus tip: Make sure you are practicing self-care. Get adequate sleep, regular physical movement, sunlight, choose wholesome foods, and make time for activities which fill your cup and recharge your battery. I can tell you that my anxiety always peaks when I am not committed to these practices.
1/ Have you battled anxiety before? If so, what are your best tips for navigating it?
2/ Which of these tips sounds the most helpful?