Each of us experience anxiety at some point in our lives. Some are more sensitive to its effects and our lives can be repeatedly disrupted when symptoms begin to feel overwhelming. At times, increased anxiety may be the result of a recent traumatic event. Sometimes it may seem like everyday problems are starting to spin out of control. At other times, it may feel like anxiety or stress are coming out of no where and we may not even be aware of how stressful life has become until the symptoms begin to pile up.
Being aware of the symptoms may help identify and address the problem before it intensifies. Symptoms may include: difficulties falling or staying asleep, excessive worry about big things, little things, anything, or everything, muscle tension, tension headaches, physically feeling on edge, indigestion, IBS, stomach ache, diarrhea, increased discomfort in social settings, panic attacks, irritability, perfectionism, or compulsive behaviors.
One of the biggest contributors to anxiety is fear. Fear-based thoughts can seem overwhelming: “what if it doesn’t work out, what if I fail, what if they don’t like me, what if…?” Playing or replaying the same old thoughts will not change the past or redirect the future. Thinking through it one more time only wears us down emotionally.
One way to identify and challenge those irrational fears is to write out your “self-talk” after you have felt overwhelmed or extremely anxious. Write out word-for-word what you tell yourself when you are anxious or stressed. These are the thought patterns feeding into those anxious feelings. Ask God to help you identify and change those patterns. There is a reason scripture tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, to keep our minds on that which is good and lovely and upright.
If you or someone you know are experiencing anxiety, seek out a pastor or trained professional.