Is it possible to overcome anxiety?

Anxiety. It’s a word none of us like. It’s more than a word. It’s an experience that seeks to undermine everything, whether we’re struggling with anxious feelings or the throws of an anxiety attack.

Anxiety is the silent joy-stealer wrecking the lives of God’s children.

But why? Why? Why must anxiety be such a problem? I think it’s because we are too afraid to admit it is a struggle, mostly because we’re terrified of the response.

Being honest about anxiety leaves the door wide open to commentary and criticism rather than being an invitation for compassion.

Isn’t that a double-whammy to an already wounded heart!  It’s as though a “less than” label is smacked on your forehead, and that marking invites un-solicited advice . . .

Well, you should pray more, says that kind lady from church who doesn’t seem to bat an eye at life’s trials.

On the one hand, she’s right. We should pray. We should seek God with every bit of anxiousness. Isn’t that what the Scriptures say to do:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Philippians 4:6 NIV

And yet, praying and asking God for those “anything” issues sometimes doesn’t make the anxiousness go away. Giving thanks doesn’t always stop the cycle of worry. Is it because the person praying isn’t praying right? Is it because prayer and thanksgiving doesn’t work? No, of course not.

God’s Word is true and right. It is good for us to heed His teaching and trust that He will calm our anxious thoughts whether we moan, groan, yell, or cry out before Him with the heaviness on our hearts.

God is ever hearing and always faithful. He mercifully looks upon His anxiety-ridden children with compassion. So why does it feel like He simply allows the anxiousness to stick around? What are we supposed to do when digging into the Word and unpacking our hearts in prayer doesn’t seem to work in the anxiety battle?

 

Is it possible to overcome anxiety?

Is it possible to overcome anxiety?

Friend, this is the question I’ve been pursuing God about for many months. It’s an issue I’ve been forced to face, thanks to a simple little post going viral on Pinterest and Facebook. I didn’t know when I wrote 40 Bible Verses to Calm an Anxious Heart, that anxiety was such a serious problem, I was simply sharing from a time in which I was deeply struggling with trusting God in the face of decisions and challenges.

I was anxious. Plain and simple. But real, paralyzing anxiety is more than that.

Did you know this about anxiety?

Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older (about 18%) in a given year, causing them to be filled with fearfulness and uncertainty. Women are 60% more likely than men to experience an anxiety disorder over their lifetime. (source)

It’s no wonder that almost daily I’ve receive an email from someone struggling with anxiety, hoping that I’ll have an answer, a solution, a way out. Can I admit that I feel so ill-prepared and unqualifed, friends. What do I know about anxiety?  I know more about a bazillion other things than I do about this pervasive issue facing too many men and women.

Yet, in my unknowing I know that God knows. He has the answer for us and we need to pursue Him for it.

That’s why I’ve been asking God about this matter of anxiety. In all my praying and reading and thinking, I’ve come to this conclusion:

Maybe the way to overcome anxiety isn’t through following a formula but rather moving in a position of humility and surrender?

Maybe the solution rests in admitting the problem in the first place?

We were never meant to go through this life journey alone. Yes, God is all-sufficient in meeting all our needs, but in His all-sufficient plan He made His people to serve each other. As a friend and prayer warrior. As a pastor or a biblical counselor. As  doctor trained in administering medicine designed to control anxiety, because that step could possibly set the stage for hearing from God clearly. Yes, my friend, I do believe that God will use medicine for those suffering with anxiety, and that doesn’t make the person who needs it any less spirit-filled. Sometimes, we just have to ask for help.

In our unknowing, God knows.

How to Battle Anxiety with All You’ve Got

I don’t believe there’s one right way to battle anxiety, but I do believe there are many steps that can be pursued in order to experience relief, support, and Lord willing, healing. This isn’t script, but rather opportunities worth considering:

1. See a Professional

Start with your doctor and consider contacting a counselor in your area to get a baseline assessment. Your anxiety may be circumstantial or clinical, so make sure you’re facing it with the necessary wisdom and knowledge to overcome it. Focus on the Family provides recommendations for counselors in your area.

2. Get Support from Friends and Family

You don’t need to go through this alone. Tell a trustworthy friend or family member about your struggle. Ask for them to pray for you, listen to, check in on you. Ask for input and suggestions based on how they see you living life, and be willing to heed their wisdom. Especially be willing to ask for prayer!

3. Don’t Give Up on Praying

God is listening to you, even if you feel like He doesn’t hear from you. Make time daily to pour out your heart to the Lord. Explore journaling, too. And be willing to sit quietly and listen for God to speak to you. Confirm what you hear with the Scriptures or seek the input of a godly friend or pastor.

4. Immerse Yourself in Truth

Take the time to read the Bible and work on memorizing Scripture truths, like these, that can bring you peace and transform your thoughts.

5. Get Rid of the Junk

What goes into your mind is going to effect how you feel. Take inventory on everything you’re reading, watching, and listening to on a daily basis, to see if any of it is leading to your anxious feelings. Put a ban on it and see what happens.

6. Change Your Pace

Is your anxiety a result of doing to much? Is the stress on you demanding more than you can handle? Carve out daily and weekly times for rest, choosing to sleep or pursue leisure activities to see if the anxiety lessens.

7. Plan What You Can

Are you anxious over all that you feel you must do? Or do you feel anxious over not being able to plan what’s next? In either regard, get yourself a planner and make priority decisions about what can fit into your schedule and what needs to be put on hold.

Based on what I’ve read about anxiety, and what I see in all the stories shared with me, it’s a real issue. There are so many anxiety triggers and reasons why it’s a problem.

If this your battle, please know you’re not alone. And please, friend, you don’t have to keep silent about any longer.

It’s wise to get help. It’s wise to seek healing from the Lord and support from His body. May you not walk this road alone, but find the spiritual and emotional wholeness you crave as you take next brave step forward.

The information presented here is not meant to replace the care of a doctor. Please seek professional help. For more information on anxiety and related disorders, visit the Association of Anxiety and Depression Association.

 

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15 Comments
  1. Thank you for sharing, I needed these words!

  2. Thank you so much for this site. Today I struggle with my anxiety and I needed to read that I am not alone.

    • Trinity, you are most certainly not alone. May the Lord comfort you with His presence and bring about you people who understand your struggle.

  3. It is so hard if you are having an anxiety. You will never know when and where will it attack. It is a relief if a person who had an anxiety knows that there are people who still and accept, love and understand the situation. A sufferer must always relax at all times.

    • Most definitely, Carla. Thanks for adding that clear reminder that the response of others matters much.

  4. Wow I have dealt worth crippling anxiety since I was 18 years old. I started my first real job about 30 mins from home and about 2 months in, when I was dreading driving to work, I full blown lost it. I had never heard of anxiety at the time, so I literally thought my sugar had bottomed out bc my dad is a diabetic and it runs in my family. Well needless to say, I quickly found out that I was having an anxiety attack. I started researching what anxiety was that very night and after everything I read, I was terrified I’d it ever happening again. So the next day immediately when I woke up, I was consumed by fear of an attack happening again, therefor causing myself to have another attack. I have now dealt with this for 14 years which the past 6 years I have been on an anti anxiety medication. I tried with everything in me not to take medication, but I had became completely disfunctional. I could not drive, go to work, go to the store, do anything by myself. It was the scariest darkest time of my life. I have learned over time that I am extremely obsessive and compulsive over everything. When something is going on in my life, I can’t quit thinking about it until it’s under my control, so this anxiety I had obsessed over for years until I could not take it anymore. I dropped to my knees and screamed to God “why won’t you help me, why won’t you deliver me from this evil”. I learned after a few years on this medicine, that I never fully trusted God’s promises and until I whole heartedly did, that the anxiety would still be there. U have to believe what God’s word says. Not just read it over and over, but trust what I’m reading. It’s easy to say “yes I believe God’s word”, but until it comes down to a situation where got have to completely trust God, then toy don’t really know if you trust him. I can honestly say I still have a lot of work to do, but it is so comforting to know that there are people out there just like me fighting to win the same battle. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Samantha, I so appreciate you sharing your story. I was struck by your comments, “You have to believe what God’s word says. Not just read it over and over.” Oh yes, but isn’t that hard! Trusting God seems to not come naturally, but by His grace, it does come over time.

  5. Thank you for sharing. I have been suffering with anxiety as far as I can remember, I am a worrier and suffer from mental discomfort. More personal stresses brought this out in 2007. I finally accepted & sought help in 2013. I see my counselor monthly who is Christian and he reminds me of God’s word, meditation, prayer, deep breathing, exercise. We are also working on cognitive therapy to help me get rid of the negativity, that’s built up for so many years, and to set limits on people, situations that trigger my anxiety. I am so glad to have found your website especially with the 40 Bible verses to help calm me daily. Your blog is highly and spiritually encouraging. I have tried medication to help with the anxiety, but for me it made me feel more restless and agitated. I tried this for 2 months, but my doctor switched me to a blood pressure pill to help with blood pressure and heart rate. It has helped with the blood pressure & heart rate. I still get nervous mentally and the anxiety and stress manifest into physical symptoms (hyperventilate, chest discomfort). I ask for your prayers not only for me but for all those commenting on your site. At church our pastor reminds us fear and anxiety is not trusting God in helping us. My favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 3:5-6. I will continue to seek help and most importantly put God first and work on myself daily.

    • Faye, thank you for sharing your story. I will definitely pray for you! Ever since I wrote these posts on anxiety and have experienced the overwhelming response, I make it a regular habit to pray for those who are suffering from anxiety — especially those who comment. God’s presence brings peace, so that is what I ask Him for . . . a fullness of His presence, His love, His grace, His hope, and His healing in our lives.

      Lord Jesus, please meet Faye right where she is today and wash over her your healing touch. Diminish the anxiety with a fullness of your love — in your timing, your way, and using your people to accomplish this good purpose. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

      • Thank you Elisa for your prayers, love and support. God is so instrumental in asking you to help us and so many people. I went over God’s word just now to start my day on a positive and healthy note. What I get scared about Elisa is when my panic attacks sometimes happen spontaneously. I will let go of negative thoughts and fill my heart, mind and spirit with God’s word and love.

  6. I love this! Thank you so much for sharing. I love when people can open up and talk about their fears and anxiety, it helps me cope with mine. To know that I am not the only one is so comforting.

  7. Great Stuff! Yes I am also agree with you that sometime you cant get over with anxiety. you need to engage with God. It makes you feel relax & calm.

  8. Elisa,
    As I layed in bed to night with severe anxiety that unfortunately as gotten worse over the past 6 months, I finished my prayers and felt as though it wasn’t enough I searched online and found you and to keep it short I can now rest a bit easier. I read some very uplifting stories and things you had posted and my friend it allowed me to get the strength and ability to clear my thoughts and I just wanted to say THANK YOU!

    • Jenny, I am amazed at how God works and grateful that He used this little corner of the internet to give you peace. Praying for you now!

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