Racing thoughts, feelings of overwhelming fear, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, heart racing. Sound familiar? If you’ve ever had anxiety before you have experienced at least one of these things. A good friend of mine describes it as feeling like something is sitting on her heart.
Anxiety is the total opposite of serenity. It can be caused by a wide variety of things like excessive stress, depression and going through (or watching a friend go through) something traumatic. Personally, my anxiety comes from trauma and excessive stress. Sometimes I describe it as feeling like a bunch of waves that knock me down when I least expect it. Over the years I’ve learned a few important things about anxiety and panic attacks:
1) It is extremely helpful to identify what exactly is causing/triggering it
2) Its important to plan coping methods in advance for when it happens. Things that have helped me include listening to music, drawing, journaling about how I feel, praying and talking with friends about it.
3) God does not want us to experience fear and anxiety. He wants us to be at peace.
Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT) gives some helpful instruction on how to best handle anxiety.
Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT)
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
These verses are explaining that in times of anxiety and uneasiness we shouldn’t spend time worrying. Instead we should replace worry with prayer. All you have to do is start an open and honest conversation with Him about what you’re experiencing. Tell him how you feel and why you think those feelings are occurring. Thank Him for the things He has done for you. We are called to focus on God no matter what our circumstances are because He is in control. If you practice what is said in these verses you will be sure to find peace in any worrisome situation.
Helpful tip: Try writing these verses on an index card and carrying it with you so that it is easily accessible when anxiety creeps up.