Dealing with Anxiety
“Faith ends where worry begins, and worry ends where faith begins.” George Mueller
I laughed when I saw this blog topic. It was a night when I felt anxious…overwhelmed. My mind’s gears were grinding, but without oil, there was no synchronization. Just a series of clogged wheels grinding, shredding each other and casting out steel threads this way and that.
Anxiety arises from a variety of situations, both internal and external, such as:
- life changes such as a wedding, birth, death or divorce
- parenting challenges or wayward children
- depleted financial, time, or energy resources to deal with interruptions, emergencies, monetary demands
- lack of boundary-setting for our own restoration and renewal or
- chemical imbalances, requiring medication just as a diabetic needs insulin
Anxiety is common among us humans. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders affect one in eight children; and are the most common mental illness in the US. They impact eighteen percent—almost one in five–of Americans over eighteen, or 40 million adults. http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
Peter tells us to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7
When I feel that inner disquiet, I’m encouraged to go to God first, asking for his peace and wisdom as I seek the root of my turmoil. Too often I go to God as a last resort, rather than the first.
Asking God for wisdom and insight, I ask myself several questions:
- Is a physical problem impacting my mood? I’ve suffered from severe allergies. I may need to avoid sugar, or stay off the grass, to reduce my chemically-caused anxiety.
- Am I fatigued? Psychotherapist Arch Hart describes asking depressed patients to add 15 minutes of sleep a night for 5-7 days, then 30 minutes, adding until they feel no extra benefit. After a few weeks of increased sleep their anxiety is often gone. (The Hidden Link between Adrenalin & Stress, Dr. Archibald D. Hart, 1988)
- Have I started, or stopped, a prescription? I may need to ask my doctor to change or adjust the medication.
- Is this a spiritual issue? Am I disobeying something I feel God is directing me to/not to do?
- What am I feeding my mind? Does what I read or watch draw me closer to God or create dissatisfaction with my life? I’ve been convicted about a TV show I liked. This morning I removed it from my recording list because the show is filled with interactions, goals and desires that are not pleasing to my Father.
- Is there conflict I need to resolve? Have I done all I can to try to achieve reconciliation? If I have, do I need to release the brokenness? A long-time friend became upset with something I did and, even after I asked forgiveness, no longer wanted to be my friend. I’ve had to leave the outcome to God and trust him to deal with it in his time and way. Otherwise it will fester and cause anxiety in me.
- Is the problem or threat too big for me to even begin to solve? Is it simply beyond me? Do I need outside assistance, i.e. physicians, a financial consultant, a trusted friend, pastor or counselor? Or do I need to humbly yield to the circumstance and trust my Heavenly Father? When my first husband was terminally ill, I could not fix it, cure him, or make things right. I was there with and for him, and advocated for him where needed. Apart from that, I had to submit and trust God’s larger purpose and plan.
These steps usually help me deal with the anxiety that is part of life. What has helped you?
“Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.” Psalm 94:19 Living Bible (TLB)