“If you have any kind of trouble in your mind, give it to God. He has promised to take care of you.”
— 1 Peter 5:7
Anxiety is highly individualized. If the enemy (I’m talking about the devil, girl) can get access into your mind, he can cause anxiety in your life. Anxiety, in biblical terms, is a spirit of fear that consumes everything and is debilitating enough to impair your life. God did not give you this spirit; it was picked up somewhere along your life’s journey.
As a Christian therapist who helps clients overcome anxiety, I find that I can be overcome by the same spirit of fear. Anxiety is fear that goes unchecked and worry that becomes excessive. Anxiety leads to difficulty in making important decisions, trouble sleeping, and difficulty focusing on a daily task. Scripture, prayer, openness, and gentleness, coupled with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or CBT) has helped me overcome anxiety. Please note that my way of dealing with anxiety is not a substitute for your own therapeutic journey. Seek professional help if you’re feeling too impaired to function. Like me, many therapists are virtual so you can see them from the comfort of your own home.
Now, here are my insider secrets for reducing anxiety:
“The righteous cry, and the LORD hears them and delivers them out of all their troubles.”
— Psalm 34:17
To overcome anxiety, it must be called out…and out loud! I often say audibly that something is “making me anxious” and I may even share with my clients, days where anxiety seemed to creep up on me as well. If I can tell the world my trouble with anxiety, I can surely tell the Lord. I want God to hear me and deliver me, so I open my mouth and acknowledge that I’m troubled by anxiety.
2. Speak Up:
“Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
— Proverbs 16:24
I do a great job of encouraging, cheering, commending my clients when they make progress on their goals. Speaking a kind word, reciting an affirmation, reminding myself that “you got this girl,” are often the words needed most. Why wait for others to affirm you when you can start speaking positive messages to yourself?
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again!”
— Ezekiel 37:5
If something is living again, it must have once died. Anxiety can leave you for dead, BUT GOD breathed life into our souls. When we are exhausted by the heaviness of worry, He will breathe into us, to restore us with joy to live again. This scripture reminds me that I need God’s help to live; I’m not superwoman! He breathes into me. I yield to Him and live. I cannot do this alone.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
— Matthew 11:28-30
Self-Care is knowing where and to WHOM to turn for rest, refreshment, and redemption. My help or my care comes from the LORD (i.e., The SELF-Existent One). Self-Existent means God doesn’t need me or anything else to exist on His own, however, I do need Him to exist, live, move, and have my very being. Though He doesn’t need my worship, He invites me to partake in worship, reason with, and rest in Him. Self-Care is reliance upon the Father to fulfill and refill you when all you are is burdened by bills and heavy-laden by losses. God may not change your situation, but He can change you and your perspective, by providing His undeniable & undefeated Self-Care that your soul needs.
5. Capture negative thoughts:
“We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ”
— 2 Corinthians 10:5
Capturing our thoughts requires recognizing and refusing to let the toxic thoughts run wild, to build walls, define my identity, or drive my decisions. Capturing is symbolically pulling down on anxious, worrisome, automatic negative thoughts and handing them over in a form of surrender to Christ rather than letting them fester in my mind. I can’t fully exalt Christ with a mind full of trouble. They cannot both take residence in my heart.
6. Get on the Write Road:
“Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.”
— Malachi 3:16
God doesn’t really need a book to “remember” our good deeds; but we might. Journaling is a powerful remembrance tool. Journaling allows you to reflect on the past and reminds you to honor and give yourself grace for the imperfect person you were. Journaling helps you record how far you’ve come and how God has used and blessed you. I use writing as a way to get real with myself and spill out anxieties in a safe, non-judgmental space like a notebook or blog.
The write road may be a list of gratitudes, a poem, a prayer, or free writing exercise. Sometimes it’s the hard work of facing my fears and traumas of the past or prompts used to confront my innermost fears; I may use scriptures to rehearse my worth or questions to uncover why things affect me the way they do, why I respond like I do, and identify what I could do different the next time.
7. Get Grounded:
“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.”
— 1 Corinthians 16:13
When anxiety shows up, it’s either because I’m consumed with the past or overwhelmed by the unknown future. Neither moment is serving me, so I must learn to practice being present — in the here and now — without judging the moment as good or bad, right or wrong. Grounding requires that I not avoid my emotion, but allow myself grace to feel and use my senses to mentally root down and anchor my mind in a safe, familiar environment.
Anxiety is a spirit of fear; if you’re dealing with a medical, chemical imbalance, I suggest talking to spiritual advisor or a mental health professional. When anxiety overwhelms in this therapist’s life, I’m either going to need space or need support. I’m not afraid anymore to admit it.
What have you found to be successful in overcoming anxiety in your life?