A Mini Manifesto on How to Handle Anxiety

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 

Our thoughts can give us hope and renew our faith.  In dealing with anxiety, depression, or fear those negative thoughts can destroy our well being.  If you are stuck in that negative thought pattern, it becomes a habit to think the worst. We can defeat ourselves before we even try.

I understand that I must let go of things that are out of my control.  However, I never knew how to do that. People say, “just let it go.” But we all know, it is not so easy.

I have embarked on the process of becoming a more healthy person, especially mentally.  I have come to learn how to let things go. There are several things I have actively pursued in trying to let go.   Thankfully, I am beginning to see a good outcome.

 

A Mini-Manifesto on How to Handle Anxiety

 

#1 Prayer and Meditation

A therapist suggested to me that I use meditation to ground myself and learn how to be more aware.  As a Christian, I fought the practice of meditation because a lot of the experts in the field study other religions.  But as the anxiety affected my daily life, I decided to try it.

My medical insurance offered on their website, meditation practices.  There was a woman who narrated the practice. She didn’t sound weird, never used any religious tones.  It was about breathing and grounding myself. Then, I researched and learned about apps that have guided meditation.  I found Headspace, Calm, and Abide. Abide is a Christian app, while the other two are not. I cannot tell you, how much meditation has changed my life.  It has helped me become more aware, to stop those racing thoughts, and even helped me to pray with focus.

Another thought I carry with me in times of despair is that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did not suffer and die on the cross for us to live fearfully and in a constant state of panic! Jesus wants us free from that burden and bondage.

I usually wake up in the middle of the night and begin to think about all the bad stuff around me.  I think of every possible scenario of how to attack anything wrong that could come my way. This thought pattern would keep me awake for hours.  One night, I woke up and thought about something. About a minute into the negative thought, I realized, there is nothing I can do about this at 2:00 in the morning, so the best thing I can do for myself is fall back asleep. Honestly, I surprised myself with that thought. I knew that meditation was helping me.

 

#2 Being Kind and Gentle with Oneself

My inner voice can be a real jerk.  I know this stems from fear of failure and perfectionism. Our perception becomes clouded from social media. We see friends/people’s good sides, fake and inflated, and we become dissatisfied with our life.  Dissatisfaction is the purpose of advertising and marketing. Hate where you are at because something new is better and leave no room for contentment.  I had a friend say to me, “if I spoke about myself the way you speak about yourself, you would be so mad at me.” We can be our own worst enemy. I realized that most of the things I am upset about, will not matter in weeks, months or years.

 

#3 Deepening Your Relationship with God

Relationships take work.  We can pray to God like He is a genie fulfilling our every wish and command or we can learn about God through reading/studying The Bible, worship, and prayer.  We fill our lives with other things that we think will help when God is waiting for us to turn back to Him. However, my faith increases when I remember all that God has done for me.

 

#4 Self-Care and Therapy

Self-care is different for everyone.  It has been suggested to me to take a bubble bath and get a pedicure; I’d rather not.  I would much rather be in nature alone or take a day to rest. Regularly, I see a therapist and a physical therapist to help my mind and body.  There is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself. If you take care of yourself, then you can take care of others. Remember in an emergency on an airplane, put your oxygen mask on first, then assist others.  The same goes for taking care of yourself.

 

#5 Find a Creative Outlet

Hey, all you artists, singers, writers, and dancers, etc.!  Find a hobby or dive deep into your talents. It feels cathartic to me to write.  It helps to get it out into an art form.  If you have trouble finding your inner artist, I highly recommend this book, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.

 

#6 Forgiveness

Unforgiveness will eat you alive if you don’t address it.  Learning to forgive is difficult, but I found a way to do it.  Forgive and forget isn’t plausible in every situation; there are different levels of forgiveness.  1.) A person can forgive and remain in contact with the person and move on past the issue together. 2.) A person can forgive but never speak or see the person ever again because they died or they are dangerous.  And 3.) a person forgives, interacts with them but keeps a solid boundary. Jesus’ ministry is about reconciliation. When you drudge up the past, gossip about the person, or always think about the sin, it will not serve you well.  Your body will feel like it is re-living the moment again. Take the time to work through it, and God will heal your heart.

 

#7 Help in the Moment of the Attack

An anxiety attack can feel like you are about to die.  Your entire body goes into fight or flight mode. Your breath is shallow, your heart races, you sweat, and experience pain and loss of control.  There are a couple of ways that I learned to calm down the anxiety attack: cover your left eye and breathe and the other is to ground yourself by engaging in your senses.  

There is something about covering your left eye that stops your brain from engaging in the attack.  Your left eye controls the right side of the brain as the right eye controls the left side of the brain.  When the left eye is covered, the right side of your brain takes over, and your analytical side comes through and sees the situation for what it is.  You are probably not in immediate danger. After a few slow cleansing breaths, the feeling should reside.

If you feel an attack coming on but still feel like you are in control, start to engage all of your senses.  First, look at something around you that seems pleasant.

Take a moment to look at it and see the joy it brings.  Find something to smell that is pleasant. Just note the scent, but don’t dwell on it.  Listen to sounds you hear around you, people talking or laughing, a bird chirping, footsteps.  If you have access to a taste, like mints in your pocket or a piece of gum, savor it. I have used, Bach’s Rescue Remedy Pastilles to chew on when I began to feel anxious.  Lastly, touch something you have nearby. I have run my fingertips along the zipper of my purse. Others I have known have kept a smooth rock from the beach with them to touch when they feel anxious.  Whatever you need to do to feel calm, do it!

 

You can do this!

 

Actively working through the anxiety will make your triggers feel less heightened.  The good news is, with practice, it does get easier. I have found myself calm in situations now, that used to set off anxiety.  

For some reason, I get triggered by standing in line at a busy grocery store. I have left a cart full of food in the store and ran out of a store because the anxiety was so hard.  Movie theaters used to make me claustrophobic and panic-stricken and dental visits. Lord knows I would have a panic attack before, during, and after the appointment. Yesterday, I sat through a dental appointment that required two fillings. Every so often, I could feel the panic come up. But I told myself, I have not worked so hard to let this overtake me anymore. And thankfully, I made it through and enjoyed the rest of the day.

I hope that something listed speaks to you and can put you on the path of healing.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I put my faith and trust in you.  Lord, it says in your word numerous times, to not worry and to meditate on what is true and noble.  I entrust my life in your capable hands. Remind me all you have carried me through in my life. Give me grace with myself and remove this negative bias that things will not get better.  I know that Jesus did not die and suffer on the cross for me to be in an anxious state. Thank you for this new life, in Jesus’ Name AMEN!”

 

*Disclaimer-I was not paid by any company for the products or apps I suggested in this post.  

No Record of Wrongs

“It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured.”  1 Corinthians 13:5

 

Jesus came to the Earth to die for our sins.  His ministry was of reconciliation. Once the sin was confessed, it was forgiven, and healing would take place.  However, we get in the way of that. We say we forgive but we hardly forget.

 

A couple of weeks ago, professional golfer, Tiger Woods played in The Masters golf tournament. He won the tournament and it was hailed as his comeback.  He was back on top. The crowds at the tournament and the media were in adoration. A few years ago, the adoration was not there for Tiger, just hate and ridicule.  And I was a part of that.

 

When I was in college, Tiger Woods turned pro.  I was so excited because he was multiracial, like me and he just seemed like one in a million. Tiger Woods did exceptionally well. He grew more famous, wealthy, and popular.  Everything seemed like it was going for him. Then things began to crumble.

 

Tiger had a few rough years, where he sustained a lot of injuries and required many surgeries.  His personal life became front news because of his extra marital affairs and prescription drug abuse.  Tiger seemed to have everything and not appreciate it. I didn’t want him to succeed anymore.  

 

As The Master tournament progressed, there was word that Tiger could win the whole thing.  Part of me, was rooting for him, but memories of his infidelity came up and the excitement wore off.  Tiger came up to the last hole of his round and he was a few strokes away from winning. God said, “Aren’t you glad I don’t throw all your forgiven sins in your face?” Oh the conviction.

 

After winning, he ran to his family and hugged his son so tight.  You could see the love he had for his son. I was genuinely happy for Tiger.  He looked so relieved and had much appreciation for this victory. We don’t know the authentic side of famous people.  They are people with feelings and regrets. Tiger probably made his peace and asked for forgiveness from those who he hurt.  

 

When we hurt someone, we would not want them to keep record of our wrongs. And when it happens to us, it is important for us to not do that either.  Our health depends on learning and practicing true forgiveness.

 

Everyone loves a good comeback.  But sadly, these same people love to harass and bully relentlessly of someone who did something bad.  Unforgiveness, is detrimental to one’s health. It may be safer sometimes to not have certain people in our lives.  But forgiveness is still necessary. In the wise words of Jay Shetty, “Sometimes you just have to be done. Not mad, not upset.  Just done.”

 

If you need to make a comeback, forgiveness is a good place to start.  If someone has righted their wrongs, allow yourself to forgive them and not remember their wrongs.

 

Lesson Learned: Jesus died for our sins, so we don’t have to remain in bondage to sin or to stay in unforgiveness.  Forgiveness is necessary.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, reveal to me people who I need to forgive.  Help me let go of the pain. Renew my mind, so that my thoughts are honorable.  Heal my anxieties and fear towards people. For every tear that was shed, thank you for redeeming me from the pain.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

We Need to Stop Believing the Lies of the Enemy

I wrote the post below for #lionslightinternational

This is Colette, here. I run the social media for #lionslightinternational

Honestly, I feel like absolute crap. The issue is I allowed myself to believe the lies of the enemy. I believed I am worthless, un-lovable, and non-existent to others.

The enemy loves to distract us from remembering all the ways God has saved us and helped us in our life so far.

I cried out to God and asked…

Where are my friends?
Where is the love? Have I been forgotten by everyone?
WHERE ARE YOU, GOD?

Immediately, I heard God say, “I’m right here, right now, as always.”

I saw an image of Jesus embracing me. I Googled an image and this one, I posted feels just right.

Most of my life, I have felt like an outsider. I feel quirky and different from other people. Whether with my own friends, other couples, other moms, women at church…I still felt alone.

But, that is a lie from the pit of hell. We are never alone when we know God.

So this post is for anyone who needed to see this precious picture of Jesus holding a child. Jesus loves you and He will comfort you.

Stop believing those lies like you don’t matter. You do matter! This world needs you!

 

Let the Messes in Life Build Character

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” Richard Branson

Life is not fair.  The quicker our children learn and accept that, the better their lives will be. Parents have a huge responsibility in the care of a child.  We must meet their needs: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  Our job is to instruct them, so when children become adults, they won’t need us anymore.  Every child has a specific will that God has ordained for their lives. When we micromanage or control every aspect of their life, we stunt their growth into becoming what God’s intends for them.

I overheard part of a conversation between a young husband and wife.  The wife said, “I was not allowed to watch television, ever.” Her husband nodded and explained the subject at hand. I believe her parents tried to protect her from harmful things influencing her, but life is messy and unfair. Unfortunately, children will see and find out things that are dangerous and scary.  It is better for them to know what to do than be overwhelmed by the evil in the world.

My daughter is at the age, where she can be responsible for the proper care of a dog.  We recently adopted a rescue puppy. However, I know my daughter well enough, that she will forget things and relax on some of the responsibilities.  Potty training is the messiest (literally) part of this process. However, every accident this puppy has made in the house; my daughter has had to clean up.   It only took a couple of puppy bathroom accidents for her to realize, I better take this dog out regularly. She is learning this dog needs to be taken care of for the dog to be healthy.

Parents are not doing their children any favors by sheltering or guarding their lives against the difficult things in life.  God allows us to experience pain and suffering to either help others or for us to make a change. God is not a helicopter parent and neither should any of us.

Lesson Learned: Life is not fair and the sooner we and our children accept that the better off we will be.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for trying to control my child(ren).  Help me to let go of the control and learn to mold and shape their lives as you intended.  I will trust in you for the will you have for their lives. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Redemption in a Starbucks Drive-Thru

“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it; it is sin for them.” James 4:17

Sin comes in many forms.  We sin against others, ourselves, and God.  Jesus came to die on the cross for the reconciliation of our sins.  Making our wrongs right, is necessary, but pride and denial get in the way.

One rainy evening, my husband, newborn baby and I drove to the Starbucks drive-thru.  We were suffering from sleep-deprivation and wanted something warm and with caffeine. As we turned into the driveway, another car cut us off to go into the Starbucks drive-thru.  We were mad, but there was nothing we could do about it.

We gave our order and went up to the window to pay.  The barista said, “there is no charge. The customer before you paid for your drinks and said he was sorry for cutting you off.” My mouth dropped.  I couldn’t believe that it happened. Honestly, that cup of hot chocolate was the best one I had ever had. But that man did what we should all do if we sin/wrong someone, we make it right as soon as possible.  

Many times we are faced with disagreements with people or our sin, and we do nothing about it to make the wrongs right.  Making wrongs right doesn’t mean we have to apologize for things we didn’t do, but the act of forgiveness frees us from more profound trauma.  If we did the wrong, we need to accept responsibility and seek forgiveness from who we wronged. Do not let sin take a foothold in our life.

Lesson Learned: When you wrong someone, take responsibility and reconcile the best you can.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for forgiveness of sin I have committed.  If there is someone I need to reconcile with, give me the right words to say and courage to make amends.  Thank you, Jesus, for dying on the cross to cleanse me from sin. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

Laugh it Off

“A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart, the spirit is crushed.” Proverbs 15:13

There are people out there that laugh off their embarrassing moments. Then there are those like myself who turns beet red and hope the ground can swallow me whole. A few years ago, there was an embarrassing moment that ended up helping me not to take myself so seriously and to help me see the humor in life.

There are days when we have to make purchases that cause embarrassment, namely feminine products. My father and I went to Costco on Saturday morning, one of the busiest times to shop. I needed to get feminine products, and like in true Costco fashion, those boxes are humungous with large printing of the brand name. As I walked past the aisle and saw them, I asked my father to bring the cart as close as possible so, I could drop it in and hide it amongst the other items in the shopping cart. My dad came over with the cart, he picked up the box, raised it in the air and yelled, “is this the kind you use?” I. wanted. to. die.

The people around stopped and looked at my father and then at me and all begin to laugh. One of the people laughing had the same item in their cart. However, I found myself starting to laugh too. From that day forward, I proudly bought feminine products because I realized, thank God my body worked as God intended.

Sensitive people, like myself, fear the backlash of embarrassment. But we can take comfort that God isn’t embarrassed by us. He loves and treasures us. There are already plenty of severe matters in the world that could keep us from enjoying ourselves. Have a good laugh and make room for joy in our heart.

Lesson Learned: The embarrassing things in life, do not define us. Let us laugh at ourselves and enjoy this gift of life.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you, Lord to not take me so seriously. Help me see the fun in uncomfortable situations. Forgive me that I am embarrassed over insignificant things. Let those situations build character and not remain the only memory of me. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”