Anxiety has become a feeling that almost everyone has experienced especially in this past year, and if allowed slowly slips into our lives and controls us. Do you find yourself asking: “Am I the only one feeling this way?”, “What can I do to fix this?”, “What does God say about anxiety?”, or “How do I help my loved one with anxiety?” If your answer is yes then go ahead and sit on back as we answer some of these questions together.
What are resources for Christians with anxiety?
- Meditating on scripture- Jesus does not want you to feel alone in your anxiety and reading his Word provides a sense of comfort even during your most difficult times.
- Counseling- Seeking a licensed counselor will help you talk out your feelings.
- Talk to your doctor- Talking to your doctor can you help find the next steps that work for you.
Experiencing anxiety is incredibly overwhelming, and sometimes can make you feel alone or ashamed as a Christian, but you are not alone. To help us better understand anxiety, let’s look at the definition.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a mental state where you begin to feel worried and fear usually about a problem you’re experiencing that has an uncertain outcome. This can begin to affect you in several different ways.
Often time people wonder, “What does God say about anxiety?” Fear and anxiety are referenced multiple times throughout the Bible, and a common theme for whenever this pops up is God saying to not fear or be anxious for He is our source of strength and with us as we are experiencing these feelings.
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
8 Ways Anxiety Can Affect You:
Anxiety can cause various physical and mental symptoms which look different for everyone, below are the most common symptoms of anxiety.
- Headaches and irritability
- Upset stomach
- Feelings of sadness and depression
- Panic attacks
- Breathing problems
- Your heart feels as though it’s about to beat out of your chest
- Feeling more tired than usual
- Body aches.
In this list, I mention panic attacks and if you have never experienced these you may be wondering what they are. The best way I can explain this is by giving a personal example.
When I experience panic attacks usually I am hit out of nowhere with a large sense of fear that causes a huge adrenaline rush (usually caused by over-thinking), and my eyes feel as though they are being held open by paper clips right after it hits me.
Then my body usually begins to go numb and I feel like I can’t move while simultaneously feeling as though a weight was dropped on my chest and I begin to hyperventilate.
Up to 40% of our population will experience a panic attack in their lifetime, so please know you are not alone in this.
3 Resources For Anxiety
While sometimes anxiety, as I defined earlier, can be something that affects us minimally, it can also be good to note that for some this is a deeper more common state for and you might have to pursue each of these three resources to find what works best.
1) Meditate On Scripture
When experiencing the feeling of anxiety I highly recommend taking some time in prayer, focusing on your breathing, and meditating on these verses one at a time. Whether this is your first time experiencing anxiety or a daily occurrence meditating on these verses can help you relax in the moment.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.-Isaiah 41:10 NIV
“Do not fear”, wow every single time I read that I feel a sense of contentment, because in this verse God is commanding Jacob to not have fear in his situation he is experiencing, and reassures him that He is with him in his situation.
After reading this first part of the verse take a deep breath, close your eyes, and repeat “Do not fear for I am with you”, and imagine it as if Jesus is in your room right there with you telling you this.
“Do not be dismayed, for I am your God”. Dismayed means to have a feeling of anxiety and distress. So in this verse, God identifies how Jacob is feeling, tells him not to have that feeling, and reassures again by saying ” for I am your God”.
As you read this verse take a deep breath and think of the characteristics of God, and find comfort in the fact that we are His.
“I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Righteous, when I first hear this word I think of a judge but the definition of righteous is: Morally right or justifiable; virtuous. So when we meditate on this verse we notice remember God will strengthen and help us because he a God who is morally right and knows all.
1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.1 Peter 5:7 NIV
When I hear the word cast I imagine a fisherman throwing out his line into the water, and in this verse this what Peter is calling us to do with our anxieties.
Now sit down close your eyes and just voice all of your current anxieties to God, If saying them out loud is scary for you I urge you even more to vocalize them. Once you voice them out to God you are putting them in His hands and showing that they no longer have any control over you.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
As you read this verse imagine it as if Jesus is right there in the room with you, saying this directly to you. After doing this take some time to just close your eyes, don’t speak, and just feel Jesus’ presence around you.
As Christians, we have the comfort of knowing that God our Father wants us to come to Him when we’re struggling and has such a peaceful presence that gives us the feeling of rest.
For more verses to meditate on click here .
2) Seek Counseling
While opening up to our close friends and family about anxiety can be beneficial, it is still wise to seek a licensed counselor because of the knowledge and background they have on anxiety.
You can get a hold of a counselor by googling counselors in your area (make sure you check the reviews) or asking your personal care provider to help you schedule an appointment.
A licensed counselor can help your communication and interpersonal skills, lead you to better understand your emotions/feelings, give you relief from anxiety, and help you come up with coping methods that help you while experiencing anxiety.
Talking to a counselor the first couple times can be a little scary because you are opening up to a complete stranger about all your thoughts and feelings that you probably don’t even understand yourself. Just remember that this person has gone through schooling to help you, and it is their job to walk you through what you are currently experiencing without judgment.
3) Talk To Your Doctor
Talking to your doctor/ primary care provider can help you determine whether a psychiatrist or counselor, as well as help you determine whether you should take medication or not to help reduce your anxiety.
Taking medication as a Christian is currently a hot topic in today’s world, and while we should pursue God with all of our problems and lean on him fully I believe he has put medication into our world to provide a source of healing for us.
When talking to your doctor about possible medications to help reduce your anxiety make sure you discuss all the side effects that can occur when taking the medication, and pray over it before you start taking it.
Surrendering Your Anxieties To God
While your anxiety can be an overbearing feeling, remember you are not your anxiety – do not give it control over your life.
As previously mentioned in 1 Peter 5:7 God calls us to cast all of our anxieties unto him which is fully surrendering all of our fears that are currently consuming our thoughts.
In order to fully surrender your emotions, I encourage you to sit down where ever you feel most comfortable and cry out to God with open hands saying ” I surrender…” and list off all of your current fears and anxieties that you’re struggling with.
How Do I Support My Loved Ones With Anxiety?
If you have never experienced the feeling of anxiety before sometimes it can be hard to understand how those you love with anxiety are feeling, and what to say/ do to help them. I encourage you to read through this list in order to better assist your loved one with anxiety.
Tips On How To Help Your Loved Ones With Anxiety:
- Do research: Read books or watch videos on anxiety because knowing more about anxiety will help you better understand what your loved one is going through.
- Pray instead of telling them ” it will be ok”: While these words seem encouraging, sometimes it’s the last thing you want to hear while experiencing anxiety because everything does not feel ok. Instead, invite the Holy Spirit into that moment by praying over them.
- Help them find coping methods: Coping methods are a method or process that helps get your mind off anxiety and calm you down. Helping your loved one find one that works best for them before their next time experiencing anxiety can help them decrease how long they experience anxiety.
- Talk to them: Open up an opportunity for your loved one to talk to you about how they’re feeling by starting a conversation with them.
- Go to their appointments with them: Sometimes talking to your doctor or counselor about anxiety for the first time can be pretty nerve-racking, so offer to go with them to offer them some support. Keep in mind they may not want you to go with them, and that’s ok.
While it is good to support and help your loved one it is good to remember that you can’t fix them, that’s Jesus’ job. When we try to “fix” someone we can end up creating a toxic relationship or environment with that person, or begin to feel incredibly overwhelmed by the pressure you’re putting on yourself. Instead, follow the tips above to help them, and allow Jesus to do the rest.
Experiencing anxiety or even knowing someone who does can definitely be difficult and overwhelming at times, but know this our God is a God who brings peace and loves endlessly so keep your eyes on him and you will stay afloat.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.Psalm 121:1-2