10 Ways to Deal with Anxiety

10 Ways to Deal with Anxiety

I am not naive to the fact that anxiety will always be an issue for me. That being said, I am so thankful for where I am today and how far I have come in being able to deal with anxiety.

When I was sick 9 years ago with a neurological disorder I went from being a healthy carefree 23 year old to a complete wreck physically, mentally, and emotionally. Once I recovered physically, I never really dealt with any underlying issues that being sick left on me mentally. After I had my second baby at age 30 I had postpartum depression and my anxiety was at an all time high.

Anxiety is not a topic that typically comes up in conversation and I wanted to have an open conversation about anxiety in this post. I am going to be completely real and honest. If you have never experienced a panic attack or anxiety what I am going to share probably won’t make any sense, but if you are one of the 40 million adults in the United States between the ages of 18 to 54 who suffer from anxiety know you are not alone.

I am sharing 10 things that I did or I am currently doing to deal with anxiety in hopes that it can help someone who is reading this. If you have a family member or friend who you know is struggling feel free to share this post with them.

ADMIT I HAD A PROBLEM

This was probably the hardest thing for me. Admitting I had a problem that I couldn’t fix on my own was scary. I didn’t want to look like a failure for not being able to get my thoughts under control.

Let me give you an idea of just how out of control my thoughts had become. Again this will not sound rational. It doesn’t sound rational to me now. Hopefully this will paint a picture of just how far away from reality my thoughts had drifted.

After giving birth to our second child in 2014 the Ebola virus was starting to get out of control in Africa. Josh is a firefighter and I started to freak out that he was going to come into contact with an Ebola patient on shift and bring the virus home to our family and we were all going to die. I told you this wasn’t going to sound rational. I also had long debates with myself about not leaving the house with our kids while Josh was on shift because I was afraid a car would hit us, we would get robbed, or some other catastrophic disaster would befall us.

Thats the thing with anxiety. It is not rational. It takes a thought and runs off with it to the worst possible place you could go. One thought leads to another and to another until you or your family is dead and buried. At least that is how it looked in my situation.

Fast forward to today and I am currently 30 weeks pregnant with our third child. The news has been reporting on the Zika virus during my entire pregnancy and the damaging birth defects this virus can cause and I have not had any moments of anxiety over this. Had this happened two years ago I would have been a hot mess. I am a living testament that there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel if you are stuck in your anxiety.

MEDICATION

Once I admitted I had a problem I went to my doctor and got a prescription for Zoloft. In my situation, medication alone wouldn’t have solved the underlying issues that were triggering my anxiety, but it did allow me to think clearly enough to get to the root of the problem.

While medication would have altered my mood it wouldn’t have allowed me to really deal with the reasons behind my anxiety. I was on medication for a little over six months and under doctor supervision.

COUNSELING 

I worked with a christian counselor for 6 months. My major breakthroughs involved recognizing what triggers my negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and how to catch, challenge, and change them when they appear. If you are suffering with depression or anxiety I highly encourage you to seek out a certified professional.

STOP WATCHING TV

This might sound drastic to some of you but I cut myself off from the television. I loved me some reality tv and could easily get hooked into binge watching shows on Netflix. The other obsession I had was with Dateline. Me and Lester Holt go way back. I blame my Dad for my developed love of these types of shows ;). Anyway…with counseling I was starting to look at my life from a new perspective.

I realized that the television had become an idol for me. I loved the television.

I loved it more than spending time in God’s Word. I could say all I wanted about how much faith I had in God and how much I loved him but my actions sure weren’t reflecting those statements. The television wasn’t going to sustain me and fill me up the way I needed to be filled up.

This was not easy for me to do.

It was hard.

It was easy for me to sit on the sofa and watch mind numbing shows for hours at a time while the kids were napping or sleeping. When the house was quiet I didn’t like the thoughts swirling around in my head.

Just to clarify, I don’t think all television is bad, but honestly the majority of shows are not encouraging, uplifting, or positive which is I why I am now super selective on what I watch and what the kids watch.

STAY AWAY FROM TRIGGER WEBSITES

I also was in the habit, and still have to watch myself, of always carrying my phone with me. It is so easy to start staring at my phone and begin scrolling through social media sites.

In case you haven’t noticed not everything online is super positive. It can be easy to be drawn into more negative patterns of thinking when you are constantly bombarding yourself with easy access to websites, blog posts, and news articles that will trigger negative thoughts.

I delated any app and cleared my website history that would trigger negative thinking. With these removed I prioritized apps and websites that encouraged me or inspired me to dig into God’s Word.

STOP LISTENING TO SATAN’S LIES

This one brings me to tears because I had no idea how many lies I was actually believing. I had forgotten about all the promises I have in Christ because they had become drowned out by the enemy’s lies.

In case you need a reminder here are a few of the many benefits and blessings gifted to us as redeemed children of God:

  • The Holy Spirit lives in me. (1 Cor. 3:16)
  • I am helped by God. (Hew. 4:16)
  • I am tenderly loved by God. (Jer. 31:3)
  • I am a temple in which God dwells. (1 Cor. 3:16)
  • I am chosen by Christ to bear fruit. (John 15:6)
  • I am firmly rooted and built up in Christ. (Col. 2:7)
  • I am born of God, and the evil one can’t touch me. (1 John 5:18)
  • I have been removed from Satan’s domain and transferred into the Kingdom of Christ. (Col. 1:13)
  • I have been given a spirit of power, love, and self discipline. (2 Tim. 1:7)
  • My needs are met by God. (Phil. 4:19)
  • I can do all things through Christ, who gives me the strength I need. (Phil. 4:13)

And the list could go on and on. If you are struggling I would suggest picking a few of these and writing them on notecards and placing them around your house.

READ MY BIBLE

With all the free time on my hands not watching television shows and scrolling the internet on my phone I began to read my Bible more and found several podcasts from churches and pastors that I filled my free time with.

Let me say this about reading my Bible. It is a discipline. It takes time and dedication to read. I would recommend to not jump around verse to verse or just randomly open your bible and point your finger and begin reading.

The Bible was meant to read together. We all know that the Bible contains promises for us and there are so many verses about comfort that can be used when we are struggling to encourage us. The problem that comes by doing this is when we take these verses and make them simple quotes, that look great on an instagram feed with a pretty picture behind it, we fail to see the bigger picture in scripture. We miss the context of the verse.

My recommendation. Read the bible as the bible. Not a verse. I have completed the new testament and have 10 books left in the old testament. While some books have been more challenging for me to read than others, the time I have spent reading has been so worth it. I have grown to love the old testament, never thought I would type that, and have been blown away in how it all connects together.

CONNECT WITH FELLOW BELIEVERS

My anxiety caused me to create a bubble around myself and my family. I stayed home and didn’t really venture away from the house unless it was absolutely necessary. At my counselors suggestion I started to make plans to help get myself out of the house. I joined a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group at my church and the following year joined a women’s bible study.

I love my MOPS group and my bible study ladies! They have been a HUGE blessing to me and I am so thankful that I stepped out of my comfort zone to connect with other believers.

Human connection is so important. God has not left us here alone to struggle through things by ourselves.

PRAY

I am also praying more, memorizing more scripture, and praying more scripture over my life, my family, my friends. I am also not ashamed to ask for prayer when I need it.

In the past I had questioned if it was even worth asking for prayer in certain circumstances but I have learned that asking for prayer isn’t about putting burdens on our friends. It’s about letting them walk by our side down a path we were never intended to walk alone.

EXERCISE AND EAT MORE NON PROCESSED FOODS

Over the last year and half our family has made changes to what we eat, how we are eating, and also have rejoined a gym that has childcare and allows Josh and I to workout together.

We are a family of soon to be 5 that lives off a single income. Several years ago we put our beloved Lifetime Fitness membership on hold because it just was not working for our budget anymore. We waited until we found something that we liked, and our kids liked, and that worked for our budget. It took awhile, but we finally have found a new gym that is perfect for our growing family and budget.

The few hours Josh and I do get to spend to together in the gym are refreshing and life giving. They are recharge hours that are vitally important for us, and let’s be honest, getting to take an uninterrupted shower after a workout is pretty awesome. There are so many great reasons to exercise on a regular basis. If you are needing more motivation to start exercising and eating better you can read my post 3 Biblical Reasons to Take Care of Your Body.

As I am getting closer to approaching my due date in November with baby #3 I know it will be important to stay focused on what really matters. It would be easy for me to slip back into old habits while caring for a newborn, so I am writing this post as a reminder to myself to see how far I have come over the last two years.

I love the verse “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  2 Corinthians 5:17.

I am a new creation and I am so thankful that my identity is rooted in Christ and that the Holy Spirit lives in me. When I stopped trying to fix myself on my own I allowed His power to work in me. As believers I think we can get into the mindset of thinking that we need to muscle through challenges while in reality we need to surrender ourselves, pull out our white flag, and allow God to take over the reigns.

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My 2016 Reading List

You can tell a lot about a person by who they hang out with, what they read, what they watch, and how they prioritize their time. Today I thought it would be fun to give you a glimpse into what I have been reading this year.

MY 2016 READING LIST

Here are 6 books I have read this year or by authors I love reading that I think you might enjoy too! There are 3 fiction books and 3 non-fiction books. Plus I am also sharing what is on my reading list for the rest of the year.

I wanted to note that I while I love reading I tend to do most of my reading after the kids have gone to bed and on days when Josh is at the fire station. I really try to read my bible most days during the week and when I am doing a bible study I usually will wake up before the kids to be able to spend time while the house is quiet reading and praying.

FICTION

I have a bit of strict criteria for what I read. I won’t read books that have profanity. I don’t speak that way so I really don’t prefer to read it. I also seek out books that have an underlying faith/inspirational/uplifting message. There are already so many dark things in this world that what I put into my mind I want to be positive. And lastly if I know a book is basically soft porn I won’t go near it. And yes, I am talking about books like 50 Shades of Grey.

In March I discovered Josh had signed us up for a kindle unlimited account over a year ago. I now love kindle unlimited and have found some amazing authors!

Resolutions by Jenn Faulk

I adored this book. The storyline is about 3 friends who have 10 resolutions and a year to complete them. Emily the main character is the daughter of a megachurch pastor and the assistant to a sensational and exhausting wedding coordinator. Using the resolutions as a challenge to make life about more than being a mindless drone at work, she ventures out of her comfort zone – trying new hobbies, picking up new exercise habits, travelling abroad, helping out in new ways at church, DATING – and discovers in the process that there’s more to life than weddings and work. I deeply connected to the characters and story and was so sad when I finished. Thankfully I soon discovered that Jenn has written multiple books about these same characters.

Storm Clouds Rolling In (#1 in the Bregdan Chronicles Historical Fiction Romance Series) by Ginny Dye

This book totally caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did and took a chance off all the reviews on Amazon when I decided to read it. The first book in this series is available on Kindle Unlimited but the additional 8+ books in the series will need to purchased. Trust me. They are worth the money and you will want to keep reading this series.

The main character Carrie Cromwell comes of age as the dark clouds of the Civil War swallow the country. Born with a fiery spirit and a strong mind, she finds herself struggling between the common wisdom of the South and the truth she has discovered. If you love history you will love this book and if you don’t love history you will still love this book. I have found myself in tears, laughing, and turning the pages in suspense while reading this series. All the characters are well developed and I was given a new understanding or what our country experienced during the Civil War.

Waves of Deception by Hope Callaghan

I love Hope’s books! I had never heard of the Cozy Mysteries genre before I started reading her books. Cozy Mysteries are stories that are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.

Samantha Rite is in desperate need of a vacation. Her life is shattered when after 21 years of marriage, her husband walks out on her, leaving her for another woman. As Sam is trying to pick up the pieces and start over, her family decides now would be the perfect time for her to take a relaxing vacation.  Sam finds herself caught in the middle of a deadly adventure of a lifetime.

Be sure to check out her other series: Made in Savannah, Southern Sleuths, and Cruise Ship.

NON-FICTION

For non-fiction books I tend to lean more towards health/fitness, parenting, and marriage topics in addition to my bible and bible studies.

NIV, Giant Print Compact Bible

This bible is so great. Large enough to read. Compact enough to carry. This compact NIV Bible makes the comfort of giant print especially portable. This isn’t a study bible but it is very easy to read the font and it fits great in my larger purses and bags without taking up all the space. I am so committed to finishing the entire book this year. I have read the New Testament the beginning of the Old Testament and still need to read Judges – Malachi.

Orphan Justice: How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting by Johnny Carr

This book totally broke my heart and opened my eyes to how Christians are clearly called to care for orphans, a group so close to the heart of Jesus. In reality, most of the 153 million orphaned and vulnerable children in the world do not need to be adopted, and not everyone needs to become an adoptive parent. However, there are other very important ways to help beyond adoption.

I love that this book clearly outlines numerous ways you can become involved  in caring for orphans. This book sparked amazing conversations with family and friends and I highly recommend it to anyone considering adoption/fostering or if you are just curious on the topic.

The Well-Versed Family by Caroline Boykin

This one-of-a-kind resource makes Bible memory doable – with proven memory tips and tools, engaging games and activities, quick family devotions, 90 memory verse cards, and more.

I have really enjoyed the tips mentioned in this book and have noticed that our kids have begun to memorize scripture with more ease and it has also been beneficial for Josh and I too!

In addition to the books I have read I am also looking forward to reading World’s Healthiest Foods, 2nd Edition: The Force For Change To Health-Promoting Foods and New Nutrient-Rich CookingEating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health, and I know I will be brushing up On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep and also Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting From Birth to Six Years . The first two books I have just barely opened but I am super excited to dive into them and since we have used Baby Wise with both our kids I will be giving myself a refresher by skimming through the pages.

If you have any books you think I might like to read please let me know! I am always looking for great recommendations!

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The 5 People I Know Who Have Had The Biggest Impact On My Faith

The 5 People I Know Who Have Had The Biggest Impact On My Faith

These people would all be the first to tell you they are not perfect. Everyone of them has their own habits, hurts, and hangups but what they all have in common is that they have allowed the power of the Holy Spirit to work through them.

There are so many people who have poured into me over the course of my life. If that applies to you I say thank you. To those of you mentioned below I also say thank you. You have impacted my life greatly and I am very appreciative for the time you have spent that shaped me into the person I am today.

MY MOM

I have to start with my Mom. I watched her from the time I was young have her quiet time, can remember her taking my brother and I to church Sunday mornings, and witnessed the women she surrounded herself with encourage and uplift her. When I was younger I didn’t understand her desire for bible studies, journaling, or prayer. I get it now.

I often think of the Andy Stanley quote “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.” I pray that I can encourage my own children’s faith journey the way my Mom encouraged and created an environment for mine to start to grow.

MY JUNIOR HIGH DISCIPLESHIP LEADER

At the church I attended in junior high, Sun Valley Community Church (this was before they had a building and met in a movie theater), I attended a weekly discipleship group (or d-group). These groups met in the leaders home with several other students and discussed life from a biblical worldview.

My leader Melissa was a mom of 3 boys and each week she invited myself and a handful of other girls into her home. Melissa helped me memorize scripture that to this day I still have memorized, taught us girls how to make “booger” cookies (cookies made with pistachio jello), and showed a love for Jesus that I had never witnessed before.

She lived and breathed Jesus. She still does. After our d-group ended she continued to meet with me every few weeks and we tackled several Max Lucado books together.

MY PASTOR

When Josh and I started dating he hadn’t been attending church on a regular basis. He went when family was in town or for holidays. I had grown up going to several different churches for a period of a few years before my family would switch and try another church. When Josh and I started dating I was craving a church family and wanted to find a church home.

When Josh suggested we look for a church together I was excited and nervous. Excited that we were going to start going to church together and nervous that we wouldn’t be able to find a church that we both really felt at home in. For weeks we tried different churches and we were excited when we found a church that had a Saturday evening service also. We stepped into Chandler Christian Church on a Saturday night 10 years ago and have been attending services there ever since.

The senior pastor Roger Storms and the staff at Chandler Christian Church have been a huge part of our life this last decade. Roger’s faith and his love for his family and community are a beautiful thing to witness.

I have engaged with God more, developed a habit of asking the Holy Spirit to speak into my life, and have become more confident with communicating biblical truths since attending Chandler Christian Church under Roger’s leadership.

MY ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER

This one. There is so much I could write. Livonia came into my life through Chandler Christian Church. Shortly after Josh and I were married we signed up to take a weekly marriage class facilitated by a pastor at our church and his wife. The class used various books (Love and Respect, Sacred Marriage, Boundaries in Marriage) for weekly reading/homework and “Papa” Joe Beam’s videos. All of the other couples in our class had been married 8+ years so we were the babies having only been married a few months.

The class was great, we learned so much, had conversations we would have NEVER had at that point in our marriage, and met some pretty awesome people. One of the things our church recommend we do after getting married was find a couple who could mentor both Josh and I over the next year. From this marriage class we found our mentor couple. Livonia met with me weekly while her husband met with Josh.

Livonia, a mom of 4 kids and a business owner, allowed me to be part of her life. I went grocery shopping with her, hung out at her house, prayed, and we would read our bibles together. I could tell her anything and everything and I did. Stuff I couldn’t talk about with anyone else and she totally got it. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to be able pour out my heart to someone and not feel judged but only understood. She taught, showed, and prayed God’s grace over me and my marriage.

MY TUESDAY MORNING BIBLE STUDY GROUP

I know this isn’t technically a person. Last year I committed myself to joining a bible study. Caden’s preschool happened to have a bible study group at the same time he was in school and they had free childcare for Maisie. I took a deep breath, was totally out of my comfort zone, and within minutes of my first time attending felt so welcomed and loved on.

This group of ladies has blown me away with their love. They support and encourage others and showed me what being the hands and feet of Jesus look like. I am looking forward to studying, learning, and being challenged more together this year.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post there are so many people who have spent time guiding me and shaping me over the course of life. My life is messy and I am still learning daily to show grace to others and most importantly myself.

I would love to hear from you! Who has influenced your faith?

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