Friday, June 12, 2015

Distractor of Anxiety

Midnight was minutes away and I had yet to tackle the dishes.  I had gotten behind on my daily chores due to a phone call and whipping up some green smoothies. 

My husband couldn’t sleep.  He was feeling anxious from the new meds and came out into the kitchen. 
“I’ve never felt this way before. It’s awful.  I’m feeling so anxious I could scream!” said hubby.
Trying to be sympathetic to his feelings, I had a quick solution to take his mind off what he was experiencing.
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Feeling Out of Sorts 

I kept at the dishes while he stood there watching, and then I chimed in with a less than sympathetic voice.  “If you’re feeling anxious you can wipe the dishes.”  The next thing I saw was him back on the couch going to sleep.  Guess he wasn’t that anxious after all. 

Getting back to my task I started thinking about the people Paul the Apostle was talking to when he said for them not to be anxious about anything in Philippians 4:6-9.  What were they so up in arms about that the message of their emotions made it back to him in prison? 

Twenty after twelve I returned to the living room to check how my husband was doing.  This time I found him missing!  Have you ever gone to look for someone but couldn’t find them, then thought that the rapture took place and you were still here?  Have to admit I have in the past … a bit scary.   

Anyway, he had gone into the bedroom and was sitting on the edge of the bed rocking back and forth with his arms clinched to his chest.  I inquired about his actions thinking something was wrong.  When he repeated his dilemma I gave him the same option.  “If you’re still feeling anxious come dry the dishes.”  This time he took me up on my offer. 

Moving on … 

The next day seemed to be a repeat of the fidgets, so I tried to come up with creative things to occupy my husband’s thoughts.  For the most part it worked keeping his mind on faith not fear. That night we decided to have pizza for dinner (OK, it wasn’t a “we” thing, but I really like pizza.)  Since Pizza Hut was just across the road, (literally one minute) I thought it might be a good time for him to see if he could drive. 

When he returned home all he could do was fret over how bad the “newly installed” brakes were.  For the past two months I’ve been saying they weren’t right, but he didn’t believe me.  Now he did, but this new info only added to his anxiety all over again and we were back to square one. 

Nip Anxiety in the Bud 

Over the next few days I began scanning my old textbooks to see what I could do to help my spouse get out of his mood.  I was aware of the side effects from medications and even that most people who have open heart surgery experience some form of anxiety.
Could I be doing something else besides redirecting his thoughts when he begins to fall into what could be called clinical depression?  My actions would remind me of how Barney on Andy Griffith would settle something. How can this be nipped in the bud before it takes root in the soul? 

For many years people have come to me about dealing with anxiety and/or depression. Most can be walked through it step-by-step without medication if they have a sounding board (someone to talk with) to communicate on a regular basis.  This is what I would like to share with you in this writing.

High Anxiety 

Feelings of anxiety are no stranger to today’s society and aren’t restricted to just adults.  It has become widespread in all age levels due to stress in every avenue of life whether it is financial, social, relational or cultural.
The Bible refers to it being caused by feelings of guilt or judgment (resulting in worry, anxiety or fear), but it also shares methods of dealing with this type of phobia. 

Did you know that people who live with anxiety issues have more health problems? Their percentage levels are generally 10%-30% higher when it comes to back pain, acid reflux, allergies, asthma, fatigue and migraines, because their immune systems are always being challenged. 

Anxiety levels heighten when feelings of guilt, fear or worry appear, but calmness returns when these same feelings are under control.  No wonder these emotions play such a vital part of our overall mental, physical and spiritual wellness. 

There was a song called “High Anxiety” from a film of the same name. Although I never saw it, I certainly heard the song in which the theme was that the person had no alternative but to give into the feeling of being anxious.  I disagree with this theory, because it’s totally against what the Bible says we are to do if we believe in God.  

Ask a stream of questions to any person that has experienced temporary to severe anxiety issues, and they will tell you one specific thing that escapes their feelings of security. The feeling of peace is what gets lost in the shuffle of emotions, and the base of that is fear. 
Warning Signs
What keeps a person in anxiety levels is that they forgo all surrounding reality except things that relate to them directly. Their focus is totally on self, therefore finding solutions can be difficult if they are not willing to step outside of their own minds.  They literally think differently, and in that frame of mind they begin to believe what they are thinking to be truth.

Let’s be fair about this, never brush off anyone who is suffering with feelings that trigger anxiety, worry or fear.  When these emotions arise, it is a warning sign that something has gone wrong in the body mentally, chemically, physically or spiritually. 

Many times these emotional feelings are valid, but the person doesn’t know how to get them under control.  This is where we of like faith need to step in to help our siblings in Christ overcome what they are experiencing. 

Scripture tells how Paul discussed these emotions according to the gospel, and how we have the power through Christ Jesus to overcome whatever the devil is feeding our thought life.  

“Don’t worry (be anxious, fret or fear) about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT emphasis mine) 

When we invite God into our “feelings” (emotions and concerns), it allows His peace to rule over whatever we are experiencing.  The situation or circumstance doesn’t always change at that time, but the way we handle it does.
Instead of being ruled by what we feel in the flesh, we are to guard ourselves in every manner with God’s peace.  Think of it as you would if you were wearing God’s armor. If you wear His boots of peace, you would be walking in peace literally, so all your steps should be peaceful ones.  Anxiety cannot live in the same space as peace, it’s that simple.  
Mind Control
Do you think it is possible to control your thoughts?  It may be impossible to control every thought that comes into your mind, but we do have control over what we choose to think about.  Once a thought enters the mind we have the power to give it birth or to “kill” it.  Dwelling on unlovely, ungodly things gives life to the thought, so it is important we have a way to counter those thoughts that invade our thinking.
The Word of God is the main tool we need for squashing thoughts that lead to anxiety, worry or fear, which if it’s given life, it is actually a sin. Jesus shared this with His disciples and His early followers in Matthew 6:25-34.  If we are thinking on things that unsettle us, we are not thinking about what God says on the subject are we?
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me (Paul through Christ Jesus) – everything you heard from me and saw me doing.  Then the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9 NLT)
Changing Thoughts, Changing Minds 
It’s true whether you want to admit it or not; worry/anxiety is a habit of the mind! So our ultimate goal for winning over these emotions is to literally change our mind about what we dwell on concerning our thought life.  

Did you know that it is impossible to think on more than one thing at a time?  It is also hard to deliberately think on the same thing for fifteen minutes.  Try it, you can’t do it.  You may start out thinking on one thing, but before you know it your mind has drifted onto a ton of other subjects.
You have to redirect your thoughts back to the thing you started out thinking.  Our own prayers are witness to this. How many times have you thought about something else when you were in prayer?  No need to answer that. 

Knowing this to be so, we can change our patterns of thinking so that when anxiety, worry or fear knocks on our brains, we give it no entrance!  The opportunity to “think on these things” (as Apostle Paul noted), emerges and we can open that door. 

Distract Yourself from Anxiety 

Tuesday travels gave light to the tunnel of gloom.  We had contacted a person who had made requests for litter buckets and were in position to give them to her.  Vet clinics and pet rescue facilities are never short on these pails and are pleased if they can be recycled. 

Once more we set the pick-up in the Walmart parking lot.  It was too hot to stay in the car, so I decided to set them up on the back of the car.  Instead of standing next to the vehicle, my husband and I found shelter and shade on a bench outside the entrance door of the store.  From that position we could keep watch on the car as we waited to make delivery. 

I wish I had my camera at that time. It was hilarious to see the responses of people as they strolled past the trunk of the car.  Some shoppers circled, side stepped, back stepped, turned around or stood by the vehicle glaring at the closed buckets.  What was going through their minds was clear on their faces, and had us to the point of laughing. 

After that day my husband’s level of anxiety practically disappeared, because he had transferred/replaced those negative thoughts into peaceful ones.  Basically, he allowed himself to become distracted from the anxiety issues by focusing on something else. 

God’s Word can take hold of anxiety, fear or worry and put those emotions under the work of the cross, like Christ said for us to do. The power is in believing what we say we believe about the Bible, then acting on it. 

Being optimistic about the favor and blessings for us as Christians is important if we are to do what scripture says, and truly be anxious for nothing no matter what that may be.  Our ultimate hope is provided through the peace of God, which passes all we could possibly understand about our emotions or how we are to deal with them.

This Week’s Challenge:
Kicking the Habit of Anxiety (fear & worry)

The Word of God explains that as believers we really don’t need to let the cares of this world overwhelm us, but sometimes that’s not so easy. Having someone to share our feelings with, who is spiritually grounded, will help us live out what we say we believe. 

Whether it is you or someone else dealing with anxiety, this week’s challenge will have us learning how to identify the source and not give it place in our thinking. 

We’re going to focus on four things. First we need to identify what kind of anxiety is trying to overtake our thoughts.  Don’t ignore it.  Is it worry, fear, panic or separation anxiety?  Are you or the person on medications aware that this may be a side effect?  Is there caffeine use or drugs/drinking involved?   

Second has us looking at practical applications for a solution to overcoming anxiety.  Discuss what brought on those feelings (Was guilt a factor, etc.?). What can I (you/we) do to deal with these emotions according to what was recently learned in the Bible and in godly teaching/counsel? 

Third, how does this relate to faith and believing what we say we believe about God’s Word?  If we really believed, would we be acting like this? 

Finally, our mind will always go somewhere, so we have to make sure it focuses on the right things by redirecting our thoughts.  There are times when ridding of unwanted feelings can be as simple as doing something physical such as: getting more sleep, exercising, watching something funny (life is funny, go observe it) or participating in a new hobby/activity.
Practical Applications
Faith Check
Redirect Thoughts
There are occasions when we need to be redirected in the way we think about the promises of God, as being real and available to all who believe. For those who walk by faith and not by sight, we are to stand in the gap and remind our beloved family in Christ that they are not alone.

Learn how to be a “distractor of anxiety” by reassuring others that these “feelings” are temporary. God will deliver them, because they walk by faith in His wonderful favor and blessings as His child.
Be encouraged, peace really can be one thought away!
Believing what we say we believe!

Until next time, give anxiety no favor!

“Peace is My favor through mercy.”
Jesus Christ

Note: The words satan or devil are not capitalized deliberately, because we give him no place in our lives.
Disclaimer: Article information is not meant to be used as treatment for mental or physical issues, but geared toward spiritual awareness. 

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Content and Image Copyright from Favored1. Do not copy.
Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provided by Gateway Bible
Image credit: Google Images Creative Common License if not specified.
Image:  Feelings Sign  Drying Dishes  Stress Meter for Anxiety Attacks  Warning Sign  Change Your Thoughts Sign
Disclaimer Notes: Results may vary due to lack of belief.