We all encounter moments of fear and anxiety in our lives, but sometimes as a reaction to those feelings, we have what’s called an anxiety attack. In these moments all our defenses are down and it feels like the world is closing in. My goal is to help Christians around the world be able to know how to battle their anxiety attacks head-on.
How should Christians handle anxiety attacks? Though anxiety attacks look different for everyone, each Christian who faces them should use the same tools. First, use coping methods to calm down and focus on the present moment. Second, take time to pray and invite God into the moment you in. Third, get in His word and remind yourself of His truth.
Before we look at more methods for coping with anxiety attacks, lets define an anxiety attack.
What Is An Anxiety Attack?
Anxiety attacks occur in your body when you feel potentially threatened or triggered by something in your environment. Although the term “anxiety attack” is not an official medical term used by professionals, it’s a common phrase used today.
Anxiety attack is an umbrella term that covers many different symptoms that you could feel when having feelings of anxiety.
An anxiety attack is when your body chooses flight over fight when you feel potentially threatened or triggered. These attacks slowly build over time and you can identify when you are having anxiety if you’re familiar with your symptoms.
As the attack you continues, your symptoms slowly build until you reach your peak point of anxiousness.
When you have an anxiety attack your body becomes overwhelmed by fear as your mind is filled with lies of what is actually happening. Your body engages in a flight response and wants to leave the situation your currently in, so it begins to react the way it would in a stressful situation.
Your body may react by doing one, some, or all of the following things: sweat, shake, experience nausea, feel dizzy, and have your mind feel like a war zone.
It’s important to take note of how you react when you feel anxious so that you can be on guard to fight the battle your about to face in your mind.
Anxiety attacks are something that everyone either has or most likely faces at least once in their life. Instead of letting this creating fear in yourself, allow it to bring you ease that you’re not alone in this and use it as an opportunity to prep yourself to face your anxiety attack head-on.
3 Steps To Handle An Anxiety Attack
When I had my first anxiety attack I thought I was dying and that caused me to go even deeper into the panic that I was following. Though encountering this can be scary it’s important to recognize what you’re going through so that you can know how to properly handle what you’re going through.
Most Christians and everyone, in general, have no idea what to do when they have a panic attack so they just wait it out.
I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to do that my friend and that you can battle this feeling. It has no grip on you. There are many different ways to handle an anxiety attack, but using this three-step plan has helped me immensely in my mental health journey.
1) Use Coping Methods
The first step after identifying that you’re feeling is anxiety is to use a coping method. Coping methods are specially created to help you bring yourself back to reality and calm down when all you feel is fear.
Before being able to battle your attack you have to first re-center yourself because if you don’t all you will be able to think of is the fear that is controlling your body.
This list is compiled of techniques that I personally use and have been taught by licensed counselors. If none of these seem to be a fit for you, I encourage you to do some research or talk to your counselor for more ideas.
- Name what’s around you: For this method make sure you are taking deep breathes, and then start to name everything you see where you are. If you are in a large area focus on only what is directly within your eyesight so that you don’t overwhelm yourself. How I begin is vocally saying ” I see…” and then name the object I see and its color. Vocally saying it instead of just saying it in your mind helps your mind and body to focus on that one thing.
- Fidget/ focus on your clothes: Though this method sounds a little weird, it has done wonders for me when having feelings of anxiety and is a common method. When you begin to feel anxious begin to find an item that you are willing which you can grab or wrinkle. After grabbing it move it back and forth in your hands. This helps re-engage your sense of touch so that you are able to focus on that and begin to feel calm.
- Draw: The effectiveness of this method depends on how intense your symptoms are and how much you’re shaking. All you need is a pen and paper then start scribbling or drawing a detailed picture depending on which one is more calming for you. This redirects your thoughts from your fear to your current moment.
- Buritto yourself: Though the name will make you hungry, this method will bring you pure comfort. To help calm your body and become less restless grab your blanket and wrap yourself tight. After doing this lay in your bed close your eyes, take deep breaths, and then vocally say things that bring you joy. This helps you focus on positive things, while also calming down your senses.
I recommend choosing one of the above techniques as your go-to one so that you can already be prepared before experiencing an anxiety attack.
After bringing yourself back to what is actually happening, the next step is to pray. Prayer allows us to ask God into even our most difficult moments and talk to him about all that we are feeling.
God is in control of every situation, so when we invite Him into our anxiety is a way of surrendering control. God also desires to be a part of our entire lives, not just the good parts.
When no one else knows every thought that’s speeding through your mind He does.
Though praying may not take away all of the anxiety you currently feel, continue praying until you feel His presence and are filled with the peace that only He can provide. We see this in Philippians.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7
Though it’s hard to open up about our feelings, have reassurance in the fact that your heavenly Father will love you through this difficult experience.
If you are not sure what to pray click here to see a list of guided prayers when you’re feeling anxious.
3) Read Your Bible
The final step in my plan is to spend time in God’s word. When your mind is filled with thoughts of fear and racing faster than a Bugatti, picking up your Bible will allow you to set your mind on things above instead.
God created His holy word not only to teach us about Him but to guide us through every situation we encounter.
Sometimes we can get so lost in our own feelings that we lose sight of who our God is and what our life is really about. Reading the Bible realigns you with God’s plans for you and all His children.
The Bible is filled with many great verses that are related to anxiety including Isaiah 35:4.
say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”Isaiah 35:4
God is with you in this moment and wants to bring you comfort.
Anxiety Attacks Vs. Panic Attacks
Anxiety attacks and panic attacks. We use these terms interchangeably, yet they are separate though they have many similarities.
The effects of both can be very different as well, so it’s important to educate ourselves about the differences so that we can cope with them effectively.
The biggest difference between anxiety and panic attacks is how they occur.
Anxiety attacks slowly build, but panic attacks are sudden without any signs. Anxiety attacks are also more common and not tied to a disorder.
Though anyone can encounter a panic attack they are generally connected to panic disorder and are more frequent than anxiety attacks.
Panic attacks are also usually more extreme and last longer than an anxiety attack. Most of the symptoms are similar for both forms of these attacks, but it’s also specific to each person.
Though they are separate my 3 step guide I listed above is effective for panic attacks as well. I also recommend for panic attacks that you talk to your doctor to consider counseling or medication, especially if you are experiencing them frequently.
Personal note: To those of you experiencing anxiety attacks, panic attacks, or have anxiety I want you to know that this does not define you. It also does not make you a bad Christian.
God can still use you and though these things are incredibly difficult to face, God will use this for good. You are not your anxiety, but you are a child of God.