Admit Your Anxiety
Anxiety has been a personal battle for me as long as I can remember. In college, I referred to it as worry, viewed myself as weak for worrying and dedicated myself to memorizing the well-known worry passage found in Matthew 6:34. Ya know, the one that ends with: “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
I’d repeat the passage to myself over and over. While it did bring me peace and a constant, ingrained belief that God is always in control, I’ve also continued to deal with anxiety as an adult and have focused on discovering practical steps to handle my anxiety in a healthy way. I’ve worked hard to learn to live with my anxiety in a way that it doesn’t control me. ‘Cause anxiety, you’re not the boss of me!
You probably experience worry, stress or anxiety at least once on any given day. While those terms are used interchangeably, they each stand alone. So, what’s the difference between worry, stress and anxiety?
Worry happens in your mind.
Stress happens in your body.
Anxiety happens in your mind and your body.
Anxiety is a culmination of both.
Anxiety has a cognitive element (worry) and a physiological response (stress) which means we experience anxiety in both our minds and in our bodies.
In small doses, worry, stress and anxiety can be positive forces in our lives. They can push us forward to meet goals, give us an extra charge to finish a project and even drive our creativity. Research shows that people with anxiety are more empathetic and compassionate, but research also shows that most of us are too worried, too stressed and too anxious.
One of the reasons anxiety sneaks in and takes over is because we often won’t admit we have a problem. We choose to push through, deny our reality, and keep going. We believe admitting anxiety means we’re weak and that we can’t handle what’s going on in life when everyone else can. We can’t deal with a problem until weidentify and acknowledge it is a problem.
For a long time, I’d notice tightness in my chest as well as the locking of my jaw and just think I didn’t handle stress well, have a capacity to manage an extremely full schedule, or meet the needs of my family and their day-to-day routines. Recognizing your anxiety and admitting it’s a struggle is the first step. I know it sounds simple, but until we recognize anxiety, it is going to continue to boss us around.
What are some signs of anxiety?
• Excessive worry
• Restlessness/difficulty sleeping
• Focus issues
• Irritability and tension
• Sweating and hot flashes
• Increased heart rate and palpitations
• Feeling of impending doom
• Chest pains
• Shortness of breath
• Trembling and shaking
Over the next few days, we will discover practical steps and biblical insights on anxiety. While I don’t have a medical degree, I do have a degree in real life experience with anxiety. I’ll share how I’ve learned to cope in a healthy way, what I’ve learned from research, and provide biblical application.