What Kind of Anxiety Are You Experiencing?
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)