“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep“. Psalm 127:2 (ESV)
Work can become such an obsession driving our every waking moment. Anxiety and sleeplessness result. We need balance in our lives, balance between work, family, friends and our spiritual life. Favoring one above the others leads to an imbalance and anxiety.
If you can’t sleep jot down what’s bothering you, rather than playing it over and over again in your head all night.
“Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.“ Robert Albert Bloch
Robert Albert Bloch (April 5, 1917 – September 23, 1994) was a prolific American crime, horror and science fiction. You remember the Alfred Hitchcock movie “Psycho”? Well that was based on the book Psycho written by Bloch.
But back to his quote ...
We can’t control the thoughts that pop into our minds, but we can control what we do with the thought, how we let the thought affect us. Anybody who suffers from anxiety knows how anxious thoughts can spiral out of control.
Your partner doesn’t answer the phone …
Whoops! what do you think has happened?
Does your mind run out of control cutting a stream, or raging river of fear through your mind? He’s had an accident, better phone the hospital.
Or … He’s having an affair and doesn’t want me to get through to him.
And so on and so forth, our minds can get quite carried away, when we presume we know what has happened and also presume that our thoughts are telling us the truth!
When that thin stream of anxiety enters your head, don’t let it gather momentum by catastrophizing and predicting the worst. Whatever thought pops into your head, ask yourself if you have any proof that what you’re thinking is right. There’s most likely none!
Every time my mind starts getting carried away with disastrous thoughts, I remind myself that I haven’t got any proof! Needless to say, the thought doesn’t go away with one rebuttal, it might take several. The bottom line is that you don’t want to encourage the thought.
This is a fantastic tool for keeping control on anxiety. Try it out!
“Anxiety results from believing that you have no right to express your feelings or needs.” Karin Stewart
When your thoughts or opinions are constantly criticized or put down, you might decide that it’s better just to keep quiet and suppress your feelings. It’s certainly one way of keeping the peace. However, in the long run, it isn’t healthy as you run the risk of suffering from high levels of anxiety instead.
Just remember we all have a right to express our opinions. It doesn’t mean that others have to agree with us or that we have to agree with the other person either.
Start practicing expressing your thoughts and feelings. If someone puts you down for doing this, just remind yourself that you do have the right to do so, and maybe gently tell the other person as well. If you don’t agree with someone else’s opinions, accept it as being theirs and they too have a right to a different opinion. We’re all different and we can celebrate our differences rather than try to make others to be like us!
“Neither comprehension nor learning can take place in an atmosphere of anxiety.” Rose F. Kennedy
Rose E Kennedy (22 July 1890 – 2 January 1995) is known as the Kennedy family matriarch. Rose married Joseph P Kennedy, snr after a courtship of over 7 years. They were a privileged, wealthy Boston family. Over the next 18 years they produced 9 children. Two of their children, namely President John F Kennedy and Robert Kennedy were assassinated and one can’t help but think how terrible this would be for a mother to live through. Her marriage wasn’t easy and she eventually coped with her husband’s unfaithfulness by pretending it wasn’t happening.
Their third child Rosemary was mentally retarded. Rose’s ambitious husband kept Rosemary’s mental retardation a family secret in order to keep up appearances. In an attempt to subdue Rosemary’s increasingly severe anger outbursts and mood swings, the family decided to have a lobotomy performed on her at the age of 23. This was a method used to calm severely mentally disturbed patients but didn’t help Rosemary. She was institutionalized for her adult life.
Although her father never visited her in the institution, it was the motivating factor that propelled other members of the family, including mother Rose, to become involved in philanthropic endeavors. The younger daughter of Rose, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, became a champion of mental health projects, and founded the Special Olympics in 1968 for mentally disabled athletes. It’s interesting that good can so often come out of difficult circumstances.
Not surprisingly, these family circumstances took their toll and Rose Kennedy suffered from nervousness and stress. She coped with the help of prescription tranquilizers. She knew the effects of stress and anxiety and from her own experience could confidently say that ‘neither comprehension nor learning can take place in an atmosphere of anxiety.’
Rose Kennedy died at the ripe old age of 102 after having lived a very full life.
“We live in the midst of alarms; anxiety beclouds the future; we expect some new disaster with each newspaper we read.” Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was the 16th President of the United States, serving for 4 years until he was assassinated in April 1865. He successfully led his country through the American Civil War and ended slavery. He came from a poor family and was mostly self-educated.
If he lived in the midst of alarms with anxiety clouding the future, I wonder what Lincoln would think of our modern times where everything we do is so immediate. Emails mean immediate interaction, people want immediate replies. This just increases anxiety and stress! In ‘those days-gone-by’ a person could mentally regroup while waiting for letters to be delivered snail-mail!
We need to slow down so that the stresses and anxieties of life don’t overtake us.
If stress is getting to you and ‘alarms are ringing’ click here to learn about a very useful 3 Step Anxiety Relaxation Technique.
“No one can pray and worry at the same time.” Max Lucado
This is so true as prayer brings about a sense of peace. Instead of worrying we can rely on God our Creator to care for us. We know He loves us passionately. As we hand over our concerns to Him, He gives us peace. When we are in a place of peace we are in a better frame of mind to honestly and rationally assess what exactly it is that is worrying us.
“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Proverbs 12:25
The Book of Proverbs in the Bible contains wisdom sayings dating back to about 3000BC . Ancient thinkers recognized the orderliness of the world in which they lived. They tried to live in harmony with that set order as they understood that life would be much more enjoyable and fulfilling.
The quote for this week is so simple, yet so true. Anxiety certainly does weigh a person down. Worry often takes our imagination down all sorts of roads where it would be better off not to go.
“But a kind word cheers him up.” Why wait for a friend to share how their anxieties are weighing them down. Let’s be free and generous with our kind words! We sure know that the world needs these. Plan for this week to share kind and encouraging words with as many people as possible who come your way. You never know, the Lord might be sending an anxious person your way, just to hear your words of kindness!
If you would like more Biblical input about anxiety and its ‘close friend’ depression please click here.
“We cannot escape fear. We can only transform it into a companion that accompanies us on all our exciting adventures.” Susan Jeffers
Once upon a time in a nearby valley there lived some people. Now, these people never dared to move from their valley because whenever they tried to do so by climbing the surrounding hills, they were met by an enormous giant who roared at them most ferociously. They were so terrified that they ran back into their valley as fast as ever their legs could carry them …. Determined never to venture forth again.
This had been going on for hundreds of years until one day, a new and brave king was chosen from among them. And he thought to himself, ‘This simply isn’t good enough! We never meet new people, never develop our trade and never make new friends. Indeed we are becoming very dull, ignorant and boring.’ The new king decided to journey out of the valley and beyond the hills all by himself and in spite of all dangers. He set off out of the valley with some feelings of trepidation and expected the giant to appear at any moment. Sure enough the giant appeared, horribly enormous and roaring most ferociously.
However, instead of running away as all of his people had done before, the king took one step forward. To his amazement the giant became one inch shorter. Thus encouraged, the king took one step forward. Eventually, when the king came right up to the giant he was so small that the king could hold him in his hand. The king then asked the giant his name. The giant replied. ‘My name is fear.’
The moral of the story?
Face your fears. That’s the only way to get rid of them, despite all the panicky feelings involved. Avoidance maintains the anxiety. Ask yourself, do you want to be like the King or the villagers?
“To combat fear, the best strategy is to learn to bring your attention back to the present” Richard Carlson
To conquer anxiety, it can help by asking yourself, what exactly are you afraid of. So many people say they don’t know but they just feel anxiety all the time. Just remember that anxiety has to do with future events and an unrealistic fear of future events.
Thoughts rush through your mind. Maybe thoughts like: “No point in going for the job interview, I know I’ll never get the job”. “No point going to that party, I probably won’t know anyone there anyway.”
The truth is that no-one does know what will happen in the future, let alone in the next hour or so, so it is better to stop predicting the future. When you find yourself negatively predicting the future, which by the way, is a source of anxiety, rein in your thoughts to the present, to reality!
Richard Carlson writes words of wisdom when he says “To combat fear, the best strategy is to learn to bring your attention back to the present”