Beating anxiety, I know, easier said than done. I agree, I do not think that there is ever going to be a “quick fix” for overcoming anxiety. It is long, it is tough, and it takes determination. My aim in writing this blog post today is to be a reminder to those of us who struggle with anxiety in one form or another. No one experiences anxiety exactly the same. There are certainly similarities, but from my experience and understanding, no one else exactly can describe what you feel and go through. Because of this, no one’s path out of constant anxiety is the same either. I pray that these three terms are used as beacons along your way. They are not the map to anxiety-free living itself, but rather directional signs to help you along the way. This could be compared to a compass, which would be able to give you directional help, though not the exact coordinates.
Prayer almost goes without say, though ironically, I feel it is a vitally important to discuss. What I mean is that prayer needs to be a foundational daily practice in all of our lives, whether anxiety is present or not. Paul’s words come to mind: “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17). This really needs to be a preventative prescription. However, when anxiety is present, either actively or not, prayer must be our “second nature”. There are so many times throughout scripture where Christ beckons us to come to him. This cannot be without good reason. I feel that many will not have a problem praying, however, when prayer seems to be ineffective, then I feel that many tire out and allow their fatigue to discourage them. I can only compare this to physical exhaustion during exercise. I know, this analogy falls short on many levels, but the point I want to make is simply sometimes, exhaustion and what seems to be lack of results are not as they seem. Oftentimes, this is when unseen change can be occurring. Again, this is not always the case, but as adoption children of God, we know: “this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us” (1 John 5: 14).
Anxiety tries, and usually successfully, to paralyze us. If fear is coupled with anxiety, this is even more so. This step is just one that is to encourage your willpower, your grit, and your determination. Anxiety WILL cease once you push far enough. We know this! So, until then, keep moving. Whatever your goals are, whatever anxiety is trying to stop you from doing, keep going toward that. It does matter how small the increments may seem. I know this is difficult at the height of anxious feelings. That’s ok. This guideline is not saying to constantly be moving, it is simply keep moving. There is a difference. To be constantly moving means no breaks are ever to be had. However, to keep moving allows for times of refocusing (which is the final point), as long as your overall direction is forward. Temporary pauses in life are not steps back; they can be used to help the charge continue. Know what you need to be doing, and get there.
This final guideline is one that I feel many people do not allow themselves to do. I think the reason that so many have a hard time with intentionally allowing themselves to pause and refocus is because it feels eerily similar to giving in to anxiety. I understand this. I know the feeling, personally. However, rest and refocus is vitally important to success. I have learned much about this recently in learning, reflecting and practicing the Sabbath rest commanded in the fourth commandment. In attempting to take one full day of rest and focus on God, I found myself struggling. There is something odd about not wanting to do certain things that seem counterproductive. But oh, how productive is it truly! In times of anxiety, there will be peaks of time where the feelings are too powerful, the despair is too great, or the panic is too real. In these times, it’s ok simply to do nothing but survive. The reason I say this, is because at those times, it feels like even that is too great of a task. Do it, and even allow it, schedule it. This will give you exactly what you need to continue your path.