I have noticed a common theme among many of my friends over the past several weeks. Many are in a season of battling anxiety on various levels. Some are feeling a vague feeling of uneasiness that is hard to pinpoint. Others are dealing with full-out panic attacks. I thought it might be helpful to offer some practical suggestions that have helped myself and others.
1. Acknowledge that anxiety, worry, and panic are not useful and serve no purpose. These emotions do nothing to remedy a situation, they cloud your mind and clog your spirit. Repent from chronically negative thought patterns. Repent means to acknowledge you are doing something harmful to yourself or others, take responsibility for that action or thought, and to turn around and head in the opposite direction. Perhaps this analogy might be helpful. Imagine you realize you hopped on the wrong bus. You have a choice. You can stay on the bus and head to a place you don’t want to go, or you can get off the bus at the next stop and head back in the right direction.
2. Head to the Bible. I have a website called Encouraging Bible Quotes, where I have organized Bible verses by subject. Here are a couple of lists from that site that will be of help. Meditate on the verses. Writing them out in longhand can be of great benefit. The act of writing something out stimulates brain connections.
3. Music – Light classical music, instrumental soaking music, worship music. When in a place of anxiety, keep hard-hitting, heart-pounding music for your exercise routine. Keep your home a sanctuary of peace. I find instrumental, soaking, and classical music to be most beneficial if my mind is racing in a thousand directions.
I have created a soaking playlist on YouTube that you might find helpful. Many people suffering from chronic anxiety have learned the benefits of soaking in God’s presence. Soaking music is any Christian music that calms your heart and mind. It ushers you into a place where you can receive from God and rest in His presence. Soaking music shouldn’t distract you from resting in the Lord; it is intended to enhance and facilitate those quiet moments. When anxious thoughts arise during these sessions, give them to God and ask Him for His peace in response. Give Him a chance to speak to your heart. He probably has something to say!
4. Sleep. Even if I have to take an over the counter sleep aid, a good 8 hours rest is vital for me for my physical health as I live with a disability. When I am under stress, I must make sleep a priority. I take melatonin, which is a natural sleep aid. It works for me and is non-addictive. However, Melatonin either works for you, or it doesn’t. There is no grey area. I take it an hour before bedtime.
When I am anxious, it’s that first half hour of trying to fall asleep that is the hardest. I do my best to cut any outside stimuli for at least an hour before I go to bed. I log out of Facebook, put some light classical or instrumental music on and I make sure my blue light filter is turned on my smartphone. I often listen to older podcasts of Daily Audio Bible. I don’t feel guilty drifting off to sleep if it’s an old podcast!
If you keep your smartphone by your bedside, I urge you to download a ‘blue light’ filter and use it if you are using your phone within 2 hours of bedtime. The blue light from a smartphone, tablet, or laptop is now proven to stimulate your brain. Sleep experts suggest you turn off all your devices at least an hour before bedtime. For most of us, that’s not an option. The filter will mask the blue light. You can also buy a pair of blue-light blocking computer glasses to use for computer use.
When you wake in the morning, open all your curtains. Allow sunlight to flood your home during the first hours of the day. For those of us in a Northern climate, that can be difficult, I must admit. Invest in natural light lightbulbs. The price of Seasonal Affective Disorder Lamps has dropped significantly over the years. Do your best to get out in the sunlight, especially in the morning. Your natural body-clock will thank you.
5. Limit your Social Media sensationalistic or controversial engagement. Temporarily unfollow hotheaded friends on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook. I added an extension to my laptop’s browser that helps me not see content that I would rather not see on Facebook. It’s free and safe, I have used it for several years. Facebook Purity allows me to block any status that contains items on my custom list of keywords and phrases. Now, when I scroll down Facebook’s news feed, I no longer see subjects that are anxiety triggers.
During times when anxiety tries to overwhelm me, I limit my access to news outlets. I skim the headlines once a day. If I read something that disturbs me, I lift that situation to the Lord in prayer and leave it in His hands. I make a mental choice to remind myself that the Lord has the situation in His hands and I no longer have a legitimate right to worry. There is no such thing as a legitimate worry in God’s kingdom.
6. Exercise, sunlight, and fresh air. Try to go outside at least once a day. In the summertime, take off your shoes and socks and allow the grass to tickle your toes for a few minutes. Even if you just walk around the block, you will feel a shift in your spirit. If your body allows it, a half hour of brisk cardio can do wonders!
7. Talk to an emotionally healthy friend. Share your heart with someone you trust who is hopeful, empathetic, and practical. Give them permission to speak into your life. They could help you discover behavioural patterns in your life that lead you down the path of anxiety.
If you have some pointers you would like to add, use the comment box below!
All Bible verses, unless otherwise attributed, are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
Until Next Week
©2017 Katherine Walden
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