(Photo by Stevi Phipps)
By Kyle Jane Heskett
Anxiety is normal. It has become mankind’s coping mechanism when faced with difficult circumstances. When animals are put in physically dangerous situations, their bodies naturally take on the fight or flight response. They either fight whatever is threatening them or they run away entirely for protection – it’s the way God made them. But I think God gives us humans, another option. We do the same thing with a physical altercation, but humans have adopted fight or flight tactics with emotional or mental anxieties too. We either face it head on by trying to control everything or we run away and try to avoid it by our own power. But what if God intended something better for us? What if we chose the third option? Peace. Will God’s peace become the new normal for you?
Proverbs 12:25 states, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.” I don’t think people realize the danger anxiety has on their spiritual, physical, and mental health. 1 Peter 5:7 and in Philippians 4:6 command us to take our anxieties to God. Verses such as Psalm 94:19 and Isaiah 35:4 suggest that anxiety is the absence of peace, courage, and it is a disregard for the fact that God is there.
Physically, anxiety puts our bodies on alert, the same as a flight or fight reaction of an animal. However, since anxiety has become so intertwined in our lives, our bodies are on constant alert with no relief. This amount of stress can cause heart, abdominal, and respiratory problems. I don’t want that for my life and I don’t think you do either. But there is good news! There are physical, mental, and spiritual ways to feel God’s peace.
Physically, one method to relieve stress is deep breathing. Try sitting down and taking slow deep breaths. You can try repeating a positive phrase to yourself or squeezing a stress ball. Exercise also relieves stress. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America website states that “According to some studies, regular exercise works as well as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the effects can be long lasting.” Exercising does not have to be an intense hour long session, just walking for 15 minutes can help. You can also try doing more of what helps you relax, like taking a long bath or using essential oils. These things are small but can have a huge impact.
Mentally, if you struggle from a serious anxiety disorder, do not be afraid to talk to your doctor about medication. There are cases where a person’s brain does not allow them to process stress correctly. Therefore medication can help, yet this is something to pray very hard about. Since we live in a society that tends to overprescribe, those who really need medication, may become too dependent on it. This creates a fine line and it is important to seek God’s wisdom and perhaps guidance from godly people you trust for a decision like this. Do not be ashamed of the direction He leads you. Another resource to consider is counseling. Counseling creates a safe space to talk through the problems you may be facing. A therapist may even have tips and methods of practice to ease anxiety.
The most important way to feel peace is by taking care of yourself spiritually. You must spend time with God on a daily basis. That is where you will draw your strength from. Cast your cares upon Him and surrender to His control over your life. Go to Him and enjoy His presence, get to know Him, and devote time in prayer. Have faith that God may even heal you of your anxieties. Don’t be afraid to pray to Him for this healing. Declare truth over your life, because there is power in speaking out the Word of God and declaring who He is. But most of all, be real with Him. Let it all out and trust Him. He promises this in His Word. Test Him on His promises and watch His will for your life unfold.
Remember the third option ladies and remember it well. You do not have to face things head on alone or run from it. You can be at peace with the knowledge that God will take care of your life. I know because I’ve experienced it. If He can bring a girl like me with a serious anxiety disorder to peace, He can bring you there too. Your third option is waiting, with the God of peace on the other side.