God created your brain to have a “fear center” that warns you of risks. Therefore, there are times when it is appropriate to have concerns, be afraid, or feel troubled over circumstances. But when this “fear center” is working over-time (having too many reactions), you’re left with anxiety.
These “fear center” over-reactions can happen as 1) an immediate response to stimuli (ex. a room full of eyes are looking at you) and as 2) interpretations about stimuli (ex. “they are going to judge me”). So, think about your anxiety for a minute:
- Are there situations where you feel instant anxiety (immediate reactions caused by no-thinking)?
- Are there situations where your racing thoughts are causing you to have anxiety (reactions caused by over-thinking)?
Now, once you know if you’re dealing with one or both kinds of over-reactions, you can intercept them with well-matched responses. Then, your “fear center” won’t be as inflamed, and you will experience less anxiety in the moment and overall.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
1. If your Reactions are Caused by No-Thinking…
…A no-thinking reaction is not a time for over-thinking – it’s a time for practice. For example, the more you practice speaking up in the room full of eyes looking at you and nothing goes wrong, the less you will have an instant reaction of anxiety when eyes look at you.
…These practice experiences of exposing yourself to what you fear are appropriate times to use some popular strategies of deep-breathing, relaxing your muscles, concentrating only on what is happening in the moment, and taking baby-steps towards trying new things.
…And overall, your body becomes trained in how to respond based on what you take it through in life. You can calm it down by lifestyle choices:
- Prioritize good sleep & exercise. (Ps. 3:5-6, 4:4; 1 Cor. 9:27)
- Spend abundant time with the right people. (Ps. 1:1; Prov. 11:14, 13:20)
- Don’t miss out on the blessing of reading God’s Word every day. (Ps. 1:2-3, 119:93)
- Resist self-focused, anxiety-driven prayers. Instead, ask God to give you the prayers He wants to answer for you and others. (Mt. 6:9, 26:41)
- Obey Him. (Deut. 13:4; Ps. 40:8)
- Continually face your fears so your body learns to accept your spirit’s theology, that He’s in and over everything. (Ps. 107:29, 139:1-16)
2. If your Reactions are Caused by Over-Thinking…
…When you’re having thoughts that are causing a reaction of anxiety or heightening the anxiety that is already there, this is not a time to believe that what you think is always accurate. For example, notice how you are over-thinking a situation when you interpret the room of eyes as a group of people judging you.
…Also, determine if the source of your anxious thoughts is a bad experience of the past, or a prediction of the worst-case scenario in the future. Move out of the past (including doing any necessary healing), and out of the future (only God knows and He is in control), and focus on what is truly happening in the present.
…Then, consider how your worries are keeping you in a place of inaction. Replace your worries with one or more good solid plans and then act on those plans.
…Finally, your mind learns how to react based on what you spend your time thinking about. You can calm it down by asking yourself humble questions:
- Are these thoughts about my situation bringing me peace or angst? (Phil. 4:6-9)
- Am I willing to challenge the validity of my thoughts or have someone else do so? (1 Kings 12:8; 1 Thess. 5:21)
- Am I stressed because I’m actually in a bad situation, or because I’m possibly interpreting it as a bad situation? (Lam. 3:21; 2 Cor. 10:5, 11:3)
- Are these thoughts setting the course for fruitful action, or are they simply formulating a weak, useless plan? (Job 38:36; Rom. 12:2)
- Are my thoughts daring to cause me to try to live in other people’s heads, making me act like I can predict the future, and positioning me as if I’m a god in control? (Lk. 12: 29-31; Rom. 11:34)
- Are these thoughts preventing me from thinking well of others? (Phil. 2:4)
- Am I underestimating my ability to tolerate this situation and overestimating how bad it’s going to be? (Rom. 8:5; Phil. 3:12-15)
- Have these thoughts caused me to abandon trusting in God? Do I really believe He will provide my daily bread and knows what I really need? (Is. 26:3; Mt. 6:11, 32; 2 Tim. 1:7; Jas. 1:8)
- Have these thoughts occupied so much time that I’m not living out the purpose for my life? (1 Chron. 28:9; Eph. 2:10)
- Are my thoughts sucking me so deeply into this world and its current circumstances that I have forgotten how to have an eternal perspective? (Mt. 22:37; Rom. 8:5-6; Col. 3:2)
Now, may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:13)
The black-out feature of your eclipse glasses may have been designed to protect you from the sun’s radiation, but did you notice how the world around you was shut out when you put them on? There’s a gift in disguise there.
It’s very hard to get away with your Lord (Song of Solomon 2:10) when you’re constantly being interrupted, over-stimulated, and distracted.
And it’s hard to settle down and concentrate on what Jesus has to say to you in His Word when so much is competing for your attention. (Ps. 119:1)
So, sometimes the most appealing options for rest seem to be movie binges or Facebook feeds. But that kind of “rest” only provides a temporary escape.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
You might want to keep a pair of those eclipse glasses close by and use them to prepare your mind and body to enter into a time of rest. Jesus commanded His disciples to go to a deserted place to rest (Mk. 6:31). Your eclipse glasses can help with that.
When things get hectic around you, like Paul and his team when their bodies had no rest and they were troubled on every side, prepare to be comforted by God (2 Cor. 7:5). You can put the glasses on for a few minutes, enjoy the break for your eyes, relax your breathing, and release any tension in your body. Notice your body slow down it’s tempo. But don’t keep them on long enough to fall asleep!
Remove your glasses and pick up your bible. Now that you’ve paused your environment, body, and mind, you can take in the right nourishment He has to give you, and benefit from some peace and joy. Using your eclipse glasses to temporarily block out your surroundings is a fresh and creative way to be diligent and enter His rest (Heb. 4:11).
Because anxiety is rooted in fear, it casts a spell of avoidance on its victims to to keep them away from what is scary. And this goes far beyond heights or terrifying carnival rides. For example, even procrastination and indecisiveness are ways that anxiety tries to take you out of action to prove its so-called “protection” of you.
Because anxiety is the opposite of faith, it plagues its prey with pessimism. And this goes far beyond just being realistic or practical. For example, keeping a negative perspective is a way that anxiety tries to show you how to expect the worst to prove its so-called “helpful thinking” to you.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
1.Be aware that avoidance and pessimism are signs that you’ve been paid a visit by anxiety. When you catch yourself avoiding what you don’t want to face, or finding yourself thinking things are going to turn out much worse than they usually do, consider that this is anxiety and not really your best you.
2.Don’t beat yourself up; it’s hard not to have an anxious spirit in this fast-paced world. But if the Holy Spirit has come and made His home in you, then you can access power, love, and a sound mind to replace a spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7). Confessing that you have worried instead of trusting is an invitation to the Spirit of Jesus to get to work inside of you.
3.Ponder this analogy: Being a Christian is both winning the championship and being at training camp at the same time. Check out Titus 2:11-15: His glory has arrived on the scene…pouring grace over you…teaching you…living through you…asking you to wait for Him to work…giving you hope…and redeeming and purifying you all for the honor of being His very own! He says to: declare these truths with authority to your worldly passions (including anxiety) every day, every hour if you have to! And let no one (including anxiety) disregard you! Finally, depend on Him to coach and score against every one of your match-ups against anxiety, including it’s favorite game-plans of avoidance and pessimism.
- Do you sometimes have a hard time making decisions?
- Do you regret some of the decisions you’ve made recently?
- Do you sometimes upset people by what you say/post?
- Do you worry you aren’t smart enough, or do you even sometimes feel stupid?
- Do you wish you weren’t so moody, or didn’t feel so much?
- Do you have a hard time explaining why you’re so upset?
- Do you find yourself in your own “protests” (organized or not) because you’re so unhappy with the way things are?
- Do you sometimes feel angry for no reason at all?
- Do your parents (especially your dad perhaps) complain that you are making no sense?
- Do you either run away from conflict, or find yourself constantly in conflict?
- Do you have some relationship struggles, or wish you had closer friendships?
- Do your parents accuse you of being selfish?
- Do you sometimes act “cold” towards others, or want to avoid emotions all together?
- Do you feel like you’re not a good-enough Christian?
- Do you have a hard time taking the blame, or feel criticized a lot?
- Do you get your feelings hurt all the time, or wish people would do a better job understanding you?
- Do you wish you were more mature?
- Do you know what it feels like to be burned-out or depressed, or wish you had a better way of handling stress?
- Do you struggle with motivation?
- Do you have a hard time sleeping?
- Do you have a lot of worries or fears?
- Do you feel like the world is really unfair?
- Do you like the idea of becoming Emotionally Intelligent?
- Do you find yourself taking this quiz because your parents asked you to?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are invited to know more about having a High EQ – Emotional Intelligence.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
If you decide to explore Emotional Intelligence, you can choose how you want to do it:
1) Privately – You can have as many or few EQ meetings as you desire (or as your parents have asked you to have), at the location you prefer – in order to learn how to simply become more emotionally mature. And you can do it alone, or bring along your sis or bestie if you want to. You won’t regret learning about Emotional Intelligence (even if it wasn’t your idea) because you’ll be happier.
2) Socially – You can host a gathering at your house with your favorite snacks and friends – with Jen Hughes bringing special activities focused on the concept of raising Emotional Intelligence. That way everyone in your squad will benefit, you get all the credit for bettering girls, and you have another excuse to have fun together.
3) Actively – You can make a difference in your generation: Post this article on social media to give others a chance to raise their EQ too.
To request any method of learning how to raise your EQ score, text Jen at 678-463-1978 or email Jen@KeepingRoomChristianCounseling.com
Because of Deborah’s (emotionally mature) reign over Israel…the land had rest for the next forty years. (Judges 4, 5
“Shut Up: Silence the Negative Thoughts in your Head,” by Christy Pierce is a book that would be very significant for middle school students (and their parents) to read. And for high school students, who are already well into these trenches, this book review provides relevant advice.
Ultimately, “Shut Up” points out –
- There are multi-faceted reasons for the anxiety/depression epidemic in teens today.
- Many young people are under great pressure resulting in struggles of low self-worth, shame, perfectionism, self-hatred, performance anxiety, generalized anxiety, depression, guilt, obsessive thoughts, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts.
- Kids are not talking to adults like they should because they are believing lies about them instead of trusting them.
- Because of the dark nature of common thoughts and modern behaviors, evil forces must be at play a lot of the time.
- There are 4 kinds of thoughts speaking to youth today. They are the voices of: others (can be good or bad), self (can be good or bad), the Enemy (always bad) or God (always good). Many teens today are not listening to any of the good voices because the bad voices are so loud.
- The ultimate solution is determining to learn how to tune into God’s Voice.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
Middle Schoolers –
- Read this book for the stats, stories, and solutions. You will need them, if you don’t already.
High Schoolers –
- Get it out in the open. You are either hearing about anxiety, depression, and damaging thoughts; or you’re dealing with it personally. Transparency walks you to freedom! (1 Jn. 1:5-10)
- Most of you have at least one wonderful adult in your life that you can talk to about hard matters. Choose to believe that. Stop buying into the lies that adults in your life will judge you. Trusting an adult with your battles will be the best thing you ever did.
- The very safest adults encourage you to believe God’s voice and not the enemy’s. Stop shutting Christian adults out. Tell them everything and let them speak soothing, life-changing Truth into your mind and heart.
- Taking seriously the impact of spiritual forces doesn’t mean you are being mystic. First, spiritual warfare is entirely Biblical, and second, it really does explain the degree of darkness present in the struggles of this generation (prevalence of mental illness, cutting, eating disorders, and suicide).
- Work overtime to show youth that you’re safe. Be approachable so they will come talk to you and/or ask you if they can work with someone to help them expose negative thoughts and listen to God’s voice. If needed, help them find the right mentor, youth pastor, discipleship-leader, or counselor to come alongside you/them in this journey. Give them plenty of grace, and do not shame them for dealing with these matters.
- “Shut Up” does talk about demons, but don’t let that keep this book away from your middle schooler. Read it first, or alongside them, and be encouraged that God’s power prevails over darkness.
- Drawing near to the next generation through these troubling issues could be the best way to lead them to an active, freeing relationship with the Lord that would change their lives forever!
“We…wrestle…against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand…” (Ephesians 6:12b-13a)
You probably know that chronic nail biting and stressing-out over loss of control are signs of anxiety, but did you know that resistance to logic…breath-holding… sensitivity to little sounds…and being quick to say “no” can also be connected to anxiety? In fact, there are too many traits of anxiety to include in one blog article.
The same is true with solutions. With so much anxiety in the world today, of course there’s help out there to manage it. Yet, as you have possibly discovered, there are commonly suggested solutions for anxiety that simply do not work for every person.
If there are that many tools out there, and only some of them work, how do you discover the right ones for you or a loved one?
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for an expansive list of anxiety symptoms, along with an equally expansive list of frequently employed solutions. And if you like, this can be a great time for a conversation or meeting to customize a plan for you, and receive accountability and support. “…be able to comfort those who are in any affliction…” (2 Cor. 1:4)
Give yourself time to use “trial and error” as you address and respond to anxiety that is personal to you. There is not a perfect formula, but there is much hope. “Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7)
Engage with the Lord specifically about your unique experience with anxiety so that He can explain each indication of anxiety to you, and bring to mind the best solution for you at that time. “Whoever listens to me will dwell secure and be at ease; without dread of disaster.” (Prov. 1:33)