If you’ve ever been in even a slightly scary situation, you’ve likely experienced anxiety. Whether it was a big job interview, or you were on safari and a wild animal came a little too close for comfort, or you were walking late at night and thought someone was following you, or a first date or big exam – whatever it may have been, your body likely responded by triggering your fight-or-flight response. In this article, we’ll look at how to overcome anxiety using Scripture as well as other treatment options.
Coming to grips with anxiety.What exactly is anxiety, what causes it, and is it necessarily a bad thing? Anxiety is how we respond to stressful and potentially dangerous situations, and it’s how our bodies react to protect us from potential sources of harm. You don’t have to try to feel anxious; it’s just something that your body does when it encounters specific stimuli.
Anxiety starts a process in your body where blood gets pumped to the organs and muscles that need it, your muscles tense up in anticipation of you acting to either defend yourself or escape the situation, and your breathing changes and becomes shallow and rapid.
This remarkable defense mechanism is great for helping us steer clear of danger and manage the little crises we face every day. Anxiety can also help you avoid danger and be cautious; the hyperfocus that it brings about can also be great when you need to accomplish goals.
Is anxiety all bad, then? Not necessarily. Anxiety in small doses helps you to function as intended, but in large doses, it can make life difficult.
How anxiety affects you.
A little bit of anxiety before your SATs can help you put aside any distractions and focus on your prep work. However, too much, and you won’t be able to focus, and sometimes your mind can even go blank on things that you know. As was previously pointed out, a little bit of anxiety is helpful, but a lot of anxiety isn’t.
Take another example. You may be a bit anxious about going to a party (whether it’s a work party, a frat party, a wedding, or another type of social gathering). That little bit of anxiety can keep you sharp and aware of your surroundings, and that’s great for paying attention to the people around you and for giving you extra energy to engage in conversation. However, if you’re overly anxious, it can make you more socially awkward, or so afraid that you avoid going out.
Anxiety affects you physiologically. Your heart beats a little faster, your breathing is a little shallower and more rapid, you sweat a bit more, and so on. It can also make you feel nervous, tired, trembly, and distracted. When you are anxious over the long term, your body is constantly “on,” ready and waiting to address dangers that never quite materialize. This places enormous stress on your body.
Issues with high blood pressure can result, as well as digestive problems, loss of libido, a weakened immune system, muscle aches and other bodily pains, and an increased risk of depression. If chronic anxiety sets in, it can damage your social interactions, not to mention affect productivity at work or school.
If your anxiety is out of control and it negatively affects your quality of life, your anxiety may be a form of anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can occur at any stage of life, but they typically begin between early adolescence and young adulthood.
According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), women are more likely to have an anxiety disorder than men. If you suspect that you may have an anxiety disorder, please go a see a mental health professional for assessment and a proper diagnosis so that you can receive the care you need.
How to overcome anxiety with the help of Scripture.
It is important to recognize that when you use Scripture to help you overcome anxiety, it is not something that you need to use exclusively. We need to use all of the tools that God has provided us, which include Scripture, prayer, biblical meditation, etc.
Additionally, there are other resources available to us such as counseling, medication, and lifestyle changes that help reduce the impact of anxiety on our bodies and minds. Make use of these to help you overcome anxiety and work through your anxiety disorder.
The causes of anxiety disorders aren’t fully understood, but particular life experiences such as going through traumatic events seem to trigger anxiety disorders in people who are already prone to anxiety. Additionally, inherited traits can also be a factor in developing anxiety disorders.
Stress, particularly chronic stress is often a cause of developing anxiety, and certain personality types such as those who have difficulty with criticism or are hypercritical of themselves are at greater risk of developing anxiety disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), panic disorder, agoraphobia, and Major Depressive Disorder. Life events such as the loss of a loved one or going through a divorce can also be significant stressors that increase your risk of anxiety.
One of the ways that Scripture plays a role in all of this is to support your mental and spiritual health by helping to shape your thoughts and behavior. The things that we say to ourselves can have a profound impact on us, and so getting God’s word into our hearts not only helps correct and disrupt faulty thinking but replaces it with a proper perspective on ourselves and the world.
Being told to stop being anxious may do nothing for us except perhaps make us more anxious, but the Bible helps us to understand the reasons behind much of our anxiety, and it teaches us how to see things clearly and undermine those problematic views of ourselves and our situations.
Several verses in Scripture stand out regarding helping us deal with our anxiety.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5: 7, NIV
This verse reminds us that we are not alone; we have a Father in heaven who cares for us and to whom we can bring our concerns and the things that burden our hearts. Too often, we try to go at life alone, and our stress is the result of being overwhelmed by the sheer demands placed upon us. As this and other verses show us, we are often too preoccupied with things that work us to the bone on the promise of success and joy, but that don’t deliver.
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, NIV
Nature abhors a vacuum, so substitute anxiety with prayer and thanksgiving. This allows you to keep your mind focused on all that God has done already, and to look ahead in trust and with peace.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?… Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matthew 6: 25-27, 34, ESV
Jesus here pinpoints one of the main sources of our anxiety – we are insecure about our provision of the things of life. That anxiety drives us to frantic activity, but the result is anxiety and the impoverishment of our lives as we substitute peaceful trust in our heavenly Father’s provision for running ourselves ragged.
Another Bible verse that reinforces this same message says: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13: 5, NIV).
Christian counseling for how to overcome anxiety.
Anxiety can seriously diminish your quality of life. There are many potential causes of anxiety, and that is at least one reason you should seek professional help if you struggle with anxiety.
A mental health professional can help you understand the causes of your anxiety and create a treatment plan tailored to you that may include therapy and medication depending on the severity of your anxiety, as well as lifestyle changes such as eating and sleeping better, and getting exercise.
If you’re looking for additional support regarding how to overcome anxiety, a Christian counselor will help you by including the resources of Scripture and prayer so that your spiritual, physical, and mental well-being are attended to. If you struggle with anxiety, reach out today to a Christian counselor who will use Bible-based therapeutic techniques to help you get your anxiety under control.
“Rage”, Courtesy of Usman Yousaf, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Stressed”, Courtesy of Uday Mittal, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Free”, Courtesy of Zac Durant, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Praying”, Courtesy of Patrick Fore, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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