Anxiety is an ugly kind of disease that can worm its way through your life and consume you from the inside out. It can chemically alter hormones and effect your mood with long-lasting effects, or it may be circumstantially inspired and rear it’s ugly head when emotionally sensitive buttons are triggered. Whichever the case, anxiety is not a welcome friend.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:
Anxiety Disorders also plague 1 in 8 children and are likely to cause poor functioning in school, increased chance of substance use, and a missing out of activities.
Unfortunately anxiety is more common than you might think. But if you are struggling with it today, know that you are not alone. You do not have to isolate and believe the lie that there is something wrong with you and you are the only one who struggles. A good first step would be to reach out to someone, preferably a mental health professional, who you can trust and be real with about what’s going on. Statistically, many people wait years until they reach out for help. This could potentially cost you tremendously. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health and the longer you wait to get help, the longer anxiety will control and rule your life. Just like a physical illness slowly takes over your functioning if you wait to get treatment, so will anxiety the longer you wait.
Symptoms of anxiety may include irritability, lack of sleep or excessive sleep, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, restlessness. If you are experiencing panic along with generalized anxiety you may experience trouble breathing, tightness of chest, excessive sweating, dizziness, and claustrophobia. If you are experiencing 3 or more of these symptoms you could possibly have a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder. It is important to seek help and treatment for these symptoms, not just to manage or get control of the disorder, but to hopefully discover roots of anxiety in your life and learn how to dig them out.
One thing to keep in mind is that a huge and widespread root to anxiety is fear. Behind the worry, anxiety and panic is a sense of overwhelming fear that takes over. These fears may have developed in early childhood and never been uncovered or faced head on. Fear may have taken root from a traumatic event, a stressful life event, or family factors. Biological factors and genetics may also play a role in anxiety-producing fear. Chemical imblances are important to take a look at whether genetically induced or through life circumstances. If needed, medication may be a helpful tool to bring balance and stability to your mental functioning.
When facing what your fears are, it is important to be 100% honest with yourself, no matter how far-fetched or unrealistic yours fears may be.
Fear has the power to twist and distort truth as long as it is kept hidden. Expose your fears and face them for what they really are. Your fears may have been instilled in your by someone else years ago, or they may have developed through traumatic or stressful events. Something to always keep in mind:
The lie that we so often believe is that if I’m thinking a certain way then I must be born with that kind of thinking and I’m stuck with it the rest of my life. FALSE! You have the power to change your thinking, which in turn will change your belief system, which will ultimately change your behaviors. But it all starts with you. It takes a willingness to evaluate your thinking and when it started. To face the pain that may have caused your fears. To face the struggles that you deal with on a daily basis. To face your fears head-on and not let them stay hidden. To reach out for help and choose not to settle for a fear-based reality. And lastly, a willingness to change even when you feel like it’s going against every grain in your body. To change your thinking and replace it with truth. Day after day after day.
Facing your fears and changing your thinking is not an overnight process. Some thinking can be changed instantaneously as truth is exposed. Other times, it may take as long to think differently as it has been since the ‘stinkin thinkin’ has been rolling around in your head. But whatever the case, you are capable! God says that He has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Tap into HIS strength and HIS ability to change your thinking. You do not have to conjure up false hope. You can trust that HE will be with you every step of the way giving you HIS power to make effect change.
Changing your thinking takes time and repetition. Be careful what you listen to. Are your TV channels and radio stations fueling your fear or re-writing your fears? Are your friends and family members adding to your fears or dispelling them? What is your self-talk like? Are you speaking positively and speaking life over yourself or are you constantly doubting and putting yourself down?
Are you willing? If so, challenge yourself to write down your fears today. Call a mental health professional and reach out for help. You are not alone and you do not have to settle for living a life of fear.
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