Anxiety is a monster. It creeps up on you when you least expect. Anxiety is more than worry; it’s a poison that disrupts and destroys. The physiological and psychological embodiment of a predicament that has not yet occurred. Anxiety is an internal war that rages on, until there’s none left standing. Anxiety kills; sometimes suddenly and other times slowly.
As someone who has battled this foe most of their life, my purpose in writing this is to share with you 7 ways I’ve learned to win the battle with anxiety.
7 Methods for Overcoming Anxiety1. Pray (Aloud)
- Pray aloud and tell God your worries.
- Often times one of the best releases of anxiety is verbalizing what’s causing you to stress or worry. Praying aloud not only gives you the chance to verbalize and release that tension, but it is also an act of faith, and faith generates hope - a key weapon against anxiety.
- 1 Peter 5:7 "casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."
- Things are not as bad as they seem.
- Stop to ask yourself - Is the problem I’m facing really worth me killing myself over (mentally, physically, emotionally)? Hint: No! It’s not! No problem is worth that! Trust me, I've been in that place too - where there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. It WILL get better. Life is full of hills and valleys, and no matter how bad things may seem, they ALWAYS get better.
- And never forget - We have a friend like no other - Jesus! Through him, all things are possible!
- Matthew 19:26 "But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
- Pause for a moment to reflect on the things you have, and the things that others don’t. The situation in Ukraine is a perfect example. Some of those people have lost their home, their family, or maybe even their lives.
- As you sit and worry about what may happen, think about what is that you actually have. Your home, the food in your fridge or pantry, the clothes you’re wearing. These essentials are often overlooked.
- Even if we don't have the things we want or need - we are alive! which means we have another opportunity to acquire whatever is lacking! As long as we have a life, we have a future.
- Don't let the fear of what MAY happen stop you from enjoying what you DO have!
- This one is probably my favorite. Running / working out releases the chemicals in your brain that are necessary to fight the “feeling” of anxiety. You don’t have to plan to workout an hour or even 30 minutes. Just start moving and before you know it, you’ll be sweating away the anxiousness.
- John J. Ratey, an author in the Harvard Health Publishing cites the following evidence “According to a recent meta-analysis in the journal Anxiety-Depression found that people with anxiety disorders who reported high-level physical activity were better protected against developing anxiety symptoms than those who reported low physical activity. Bottom line: when it comes to treating anxiety, more exercise is better”.
- Communication is a key component of mental health (See my blog on How Communication Impacts Mental Health for additional details).
- It allows us to organize our thoughts and make sense of what we’re feeling. If you’re feeling anxious, call one of your family members or friends, and tell them why you’re feeling anxious.
- If there's no one you can call, pray! God is listening!
- Another way to organize and make sense of your feelings is by writing them down.
- Take 5 minutes to write down how you’re feeling, and why you’re feeling that way.
- Then, write down a few things you’re grateful for, and few things that you’re looking forward to.
- Anxiety distracts us from the reality of now. Don't let it!
- THE REALITY IS THIS - You are blessed and loved by God, and the future only holds more blessings.
- Sometimes you just need to cry it out.
- No kidding! Crying actually releases stress! Leo Newhouse, an author of an article in the Harvard Health Publishing states the following with regard to the benefits of crying on mental health “Thinkers and physicians of ancient Greece and Rome posited that tears work like a purgative, draining off and purifying us. Today’s psychological thought largely concurs, emphasizing the role of crying as a mechanism that allows us to release stress and emotional pain.”
Next Steps / Closing Remarks
Write down these 7 methods to overcome anxiety on a post card or sticky note and tape it somewhere you frequently walk by. Whenever you feel the anxiety creep in, just remember to pause and try out any of these 7 methods. They have worked for me in my battle against anxiety, and I'm confident they can work for you too. There is light at the end of the tunnel, friend.
John J. Ratey, MD. “Can Exercise Help Treat Anxiety?” Harvard Health, 24 Oct. 2019, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-exercise-help-treat-anxiety-2019102418096.
Schuch, FB, Stubbs, B, Meyer, J, et al. Physical activity protects from incident anxiety: A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Depress Anxiety. 2019; 36: 846– 858. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.22915
LICSW, Leo Newhouse. “Is Crying Good for You?” Harvard Health, 1 Mar. 2021, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-crying-good-for-you-2021030122020.
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