When you hear the word ‘anxiety’ what thought comes to your mind?
Maybe you relate to it, perhaps you don’t understand it, or you feel like it has a stigma attached to it.
Anxiety is an “intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Fast heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, and feeling tired may occur” (Mayo Clinic).
It can affect and consume your everyday life.
I remember facing anxiety at a young age.
At four years old, I experienced the death of my newborn sister.
My outlook on life completely changed.
As a young girl, I saw life’s difficulties as I was quickly thrown into the complexities of grief and death.
I saw life as not safe, and every day I constantly worried that something terrible would happen.
I started to live life on the edge, waiting for something terrible to happen and coming to the conclusion that if you get too excited about something, something terrible is bound to happen. It got to the point where I would feel so worried and restless that I would make myself sick to avoid a situation where I thought something negative would be the result.
I was continually worried, and I couldn’t fully experience or embrace the ‘good’ that life and God had to offer me.
As I got older, anxiety followed me, and the fear and worries only intensified.
I continually felt out of control and unable to fully be myself, as I always thought of the worst-case scenario. Intrusive thoughts, irrational fears, and waking up in night sweats became my ‘normal.’ I’d experience frequent panic attacks that would erupt out of nowhere, where it felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. Laying on the bathroom floor, sobbing uncontrollably and living in fear seemed like something I would have to deal with for the rest of my life.
My emotions felt unmanageable.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (adaa.org).
You see, anxiety sneaks up on you. One second you feel okay, and the next, your palms are sweating, your mind won’t shut off, and you are feeling every emotion at once.
An estimated 275 million people suffer from anxiety disorders. That’s around 4% of the global population, with a spread of between 2.5% and 6.5% of the population per country (weforum.org).
But what if I told you that God doesn’t want you to live your life in constant fear?
It wasn’t until recently that I learned how to manage my anxiety.
I wish I could tell you that just praying it away would help, you’ll be instantly healed, and you will never deal with anxiety again.
But the truth is, God wants you to welcome Him into your anxiety.
He wants to speak to those past traumas that are still playing out in your life.
Through countless sessions of therapy, I realized that my past traumas subconsciously followed me. I was still looking through the lens of my pain, causing continual anxiousness.
God wants to invade your past and take you on a journey of healing where He reveals to you places that you have avoided for so long. He wants to comfort you and speak to you His truths, even amid anxiety.
I can’t say that I don’t experience anxiety anymore; instead, I have learned to manage my anxiety in a healthy way.
The second you name your emotion, offer it up to God and welcome God into your fears and worries, the anxiety can no longer overtake you.
God will guide you in uncovering the very places that need to be tended to and healed in your life.
Personally, my experience of having a therapist has helped me recognize the triggers of my anxiety. As I became more aware of my own triggers that caused my anxiety, I was able to name where I felt anxiety in my body and implement some grounding exercises (such as grounding my feet on the floor, taking three deep inhales and exhales, or even naming a specific color around the room to gear my focus.) I began to realize I had more control than I thought. And you have more control than you think.
Feelings come in waves, some waves may be stronger than others, but they all will pass. We can be aware of our anxiety and the emotions that go with it, we can begin to recognize what we feel, and ask God what He has to say about it.
Our anxiety does not have control and our identity does not need to be based on or in anxiety.
Remember, God holds the narrative in your life. God wants your identity to be in Him and He wants you to live a life of true freedom through Him.
Isaiah 41:10: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
~ Nina Velez