Continuing my journey to manage overwhelming anxiety this fall, I realized the first 8 steps were a starting point but incomplete.
I texted my counselor and asked to push up my session; she was gracious to fit me in. Together, we uncovered a few root causes and put in place additional practices to further abate anxiety.
1. Continued counseling
I am an obvious superfan of counseling. Like Jennie Allen, Lysa Terkeurst and thousands of others—I believe counseling is not only healthy but sometimes necessary for healing the mind, body and soul.
Some events are too difficult to process alone. Reeling from pain, we cannot objectively work through the process of healing and set healthy boundaries.
As Lysa Terkeurst coined brilliantly, the “dance with dysfunction” blinds us to the necessary steps towards forgiveness and wholeness.
Enter a qualified, godly counselor.
Whether it’s a difficult relationship, painful past, traumatic circumstance or burnout, this is one of the healthiest steps you’ll take towards anxiety-reduced, wholehearted living.
2. Prioritizing community
As Jennie Allen wisely stated in her best-selling book, we’re created for connection.
Relationships not only refresh our soul, they’re also necessary for overall spiritual, mental and physical health.
Spending time in community improves confidence and mental health, promotes godly choices and healthy behaviors, relieves stress and decreases the likelihood of premature death. Not to mention the spiritual benefits: accountability and encouragement.
Oil and perfume make the heart glad; So does the sweetness of a friend’s counsel that comes from the heart. Proverbs 27:9
3. I got off social media:
Almost a year ago. The death of a beloved friend’s daughter, my own daughter’s best friend, predicated this decision.
Surprisingly, substantial guilt accompanied this choice. A thousand reasons why I should stay plagued me.
- I’m connected to family and friends.
- I’m supporting my friend’s businesses.
- I follow lovely people.
- I gather wonderfully creative ideas for work.
- I’ll miss out on my children’s lives.
- I need continuing education from Facebook groups.
- I’ll never grow as a writer without a social media platform.
Certain this was a good decision, the mere thought of returning sparks anxiety. And most of these reasons were simply untrue.
- I’m as close as ever to my children.
- I’m more intentional about visiting friends in real-time, showing my love, support and concern.
- I’ve found other resources for work.
- Needing a platform: that’s real.
But this decision is a personal one. There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s about what you need for optimal mental and physical health.
If you’re experiencing anxiety, depression or comparisonitis, it may be warranted to restrict time on social media or abstain altogether for a season.
4. I visited my physician about anxiety medication.
I’ve been told I could worship my way out of anxiety/depression. While this is a legitimate solution for some, there are also clear neurophysiological reasons for these disorders.
If a family history of mental health disorders exists, or there’s been childhood trauma or loss, or tragic life or health crises, changes in neurochemistry and even brain anatomy often result.
Thus, there may be times when seeking professional help is not only warranted but necessary. If you’re experiencing anxiety, depression or general un-wellness, don’t think twice about visiting a qualified health care professional.
I did, and I’m better for it.
5. I decreased alcohol consumption.
A few decades ago, I quit drinking. 12 years later, I discovered (and enjoy) an occasional specialty beer. But learning alcohol increased the risk of cancers, particularly breast cancer by 17%, I imposed a 1-drink-a-week rule, being at greater risk for breast cancer.
With anxiety rising recently, I’ve loosened this boundary a bit. But what I learned on a scientific podcast caused me to think again.
Alcohol is an actual poison—toxic to every organ and cell in our body. Even moderate amounts (2-4 drinks a week) are deleterious to health.
The real clincher: it’s anxiety-inducing. After the sedating effects subside, alcohol chronically raises baseline levels of cortisol, the stress-inducing hormone.
Additionally, it disrupts both the quantity and quality of sleep, further exacerbating anxiety.
I’m not advocating prohibition; after all, Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding. But if you’re experiencing anxiety, insomnia, health or memory issues, curbing consumption would be wise.
6. My hubby and I scheduled an overdue 30th-anniversary trip.
The US is the only developed country that doesn’t mandate paid time off. And for those who do have vacation days, 56% say they haven’t used them in the past 12 months (Washington Post).
We’re even called “the no-vacation nation.” And we have greater anxiety and health issues to show for it. Additionally, research shows the more hours we work, the less productive we actually become.
God sure knew what He was doing when He lovingly mandated rest as a gift.
They must realize that the Sabbath is the LORD’s gift to you…” Exodus 16:29a
I’ve learned I never fall into rest. I must intentionally carve out time for rest and play. But honestly, I’m not good at it. Yet I keep striving, and with accountability, I’m getting better.
Join me this holiday season, intentionally carving out a little time for rest and play. Whether it’s a long bubble bath, a family picnic at a park, or a day trip to the beach, you’ll relish how rejuvenated and reconnected you feel!
I live and breathe God; if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy…God met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears. Psalm 34:2,4
Meet me back here next time for the most profound, transformational changes yet!