Calm Your Anxious MindWritten by Hillary Keatley
We long for God's peace “Don’t worry. Be happy!” It’s not that easy! I know, I used to be plagued with anxiety and I’ve been helping anxious people since 1987. Perhaps you struggle with anxiety or worry. If so then even at night maybe you can’t seem to slow down and relax. Your mind just won’t let you rest. You don’t have to live with worry like this! You can learn how to trust God to calm your anxious mind.
Many years ago as a young adult, I read in the Bible, “Do not be anxious about anything” and immediately I felt more anxious! I thought, “What’s the matter with me? I shouldn’t be so anxious all the time. I must not be a good Christian”, later, I realized that I had committed what I’ve come to call a “Biblical blunder that bruises and confuses!” I had misinterpreted the Bible and harmed myself in the process. I began to understand what God was really saying to me in His Word when I read the passage more carefully and in context: I discovered that the Apostle Paul was encouraging me to rely upon God’s care when I start to worry. He wasn’t shaming me or telling me to deny my feelings. The comforting truth in this passage is that God is near me and when I’m anxious He offers me His peace, a peace that will protect my soul and body from the destructive effects of continual anxiety. My part in experiencing God’s peace is to ask God for what I need and to thank Him for the good things He provides.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is not the same thing as stress. We all experience difficulties and challenges every day — that’s stress. Anxiety is internalized stress. To be anxious is to worry or fixate on troubles. You feel restless, agitated, or burdened. If the anxiety is intense then your body is uncomfortable and your mind won’t slow down. You may have trouble saying “no” to people, feeling like you need to please them, be insecure or have low self-esteem or struggle with perfectionism and overworking, these are all symptoms of anxiety.
How Anxiety Problems Develop:
People who struggle with anxiety perpetuate their problem without realizing it. Anxiety is a “secondary emotion” that is the result of conflicting tensions between “stressors” that elicit emotion and “repressors” that deny that emotion. Before we feel anxious two things happen. First, we experience stress, we feel hurt, afraid, angry, sad or guilty and then we deny or avoid that feeling, even though it’s a natural and healthy response to the stress. This combination of the stressors and defense mechanisms is like a chemical reaction that creates anxiety. If the anxiety is intense or chronic then it will begin to cause problems in our bodies and relationships. We may develop an anxiety disorder. The key principle to understand is that stress by itself isn’t likely to create an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is a problem of control. Anxious people are trying to control their emotions, situations and what other people think of them because these things may stir up uncomfortable emotions.
I Grew Up With Anxiety:
I think every member of my family has had problems with anxiety. In my family people worried. Intense discussions, continually analyzing problems, complaining about what’s wrong and obsessing about possible solutions to fix things were frequent. Looking back, it seemed like problems were everywhere! Family members, extended family, other people, the church, my dad’s job, politics, and many other issues all seemed to have problems to worry about. As a child, I took in too much stress by listening to and being concerned about the things that upset my parents and others. I took on too much responsibility and expectation and burdened myself. I didn’t release the pressures and pains because I didn’t talk about my feelings. Usually I didn’t even feel my feelings, instead, I worried and I worked to solve my problems, and everyone else’s too! By the time I was a young adult I developed what I later learned is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This means I experienced persistent anxiety and worry about stressful situations. I spent a lot of time worrying intensely and my worry was out of proportion to what was realistic for the situation. It took me a number of years as an adult to learn helpful ways of dealing with anxiety and to experience inner peace. I used psychotherapy, educating myself, relaxation exercises, physical exercise, lifestyle changes, prayer and other things to find some relief. Today I don’t struggle much with anxiety anymore. I have better boundaries to limit the stress I intake. And I’ve learned how to process my feelings with my wife or a caring friend. I thank God for the experience of his peace!
To learn more about anxiety and how to deal with it like Bill Gaultiere, visit and sign up for our Depression & anxiety workshop that will be running on 25 March 2017. Sign up today and make a difference tomorrow.
Hilary And The Team