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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

{Anxiety & Our Thoughts} and a GIVEAWAY!

 
For a large part of my life I have felt anxious. At certain times more so than others. It was always just kind of there and I accepted it as part of who I was or as normal. But the older I get the more I am starting to ask questions, like why am I feeling this way? What exactly is it that is making me feel this way? What am I so scared of? What if it happened... Would it be as bad as I feel it would be? And what can I do to help myself address these feelings or situations that bring about these feelings when they come up?

 
{What makes us think and feel the things we do? What can we do about it?}

 These are interesting questions! Excited to uncover what might really be going on under these thought and feelings. We will be looking at scientifically and biblically supported ways of addressing these thought and feelings. Lets get started :)

 
{The Root} : Where does the anxiety originate from?


What we fear {what happened to cause fear?}
 

For example, I tend to feel anxious around groups of people that I don't know. I believe God has helped me to trace that fear back to when I was younger and something embarassing happened to me in front of a large group of people. Now when in certain unstable feeling situations where I don't know the people around me I feel afraid of them judging me and rejecting me without really knowing me. The uncertainty of the situation and possibility of being hurt again makes me feel anxious.

 
What we believe {about ourselves, about others}


Using my example again, I am believing that others are watching me and judging my every move in those moments. That people are looking for the places where they can find something "wrong" with me to use as ammunition. I am also believing that what others say about me can define me or it says something about who I am.

 
What are roots that you may have? It can be hard to look at them for sure but once we do there is freedom in that! I challenge you to write it down, what are you afraid of and what are you believing about yourself and/or others?

 

{Feelings} - Results of our thoughts, fears and beliefs

The feelings of anxiety can often distract us from what caused it in the first place because they can be very uncomfortable at times. But it is comforting to know that these feelings associated with anxiety are directly effected by our thoughts and the great news is that we get to CHOOSE our thoughts and beliefs. And I truly believe that a thought or belief can trump a fear anyday when applied to our lives regularly!

 

Here's where the fun part begins :) I have applied many of the things I am about to share to my life and I  can say for sure that they work!

 

 {Challenge Your Fears & Beliefs} -  what would really happen?

 
This is actually a form of therapy called CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) that has had wonderful results in patients' thoughts and brain activity. My friend Heather brought this concept up to me a while back and the times I have used it it has helped so much (not to mention it has been proven to change brain activity :) ). The goal of CBT is to look at situations that cause distress and to develop "more realistic interpretations of events." Many of our fears and anxieties may be more distorted in our minds than we realize. How freeing to see a situation for what it really is and not what we have perceived it to be :)

 
"Scientific studies of CBT have demonstrated its usefulness for a wide variety of mental illnesses including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse disorders, sleep disorders and psychotic disorders. Studies have shown that CBT actually changes brain activity in people with mental illnesses who receive this treatment, suggesting that the brain is actually improving its functioning as a result of engaging in this form of therapy. CBT has been shown to be as useful as antidepressant medications for some individuals with depression and may be superior in preventing relapse of symptoms. Patients receiving CBT for depression are encouraged to schedule positive activities into their daily calendars in order to increase the amount of pleasure they experience. In addition, depressed patients learn how to change (“restructure”) negative thought patterns in order to interpret their environment in a less negatively-biased way. As regular sleep has been found to be very important in both depression and bipolar disorder, therapists will also target sleeping patterns to improve and regulate sleep schedules with their patients. Studies indicate that patients who receive CBT in addition to treatment with medication have better outcomes than patients who do not receive CBT as an additional treatment. CBT is also a useful treatment for anxiety disorders. Patients who experience persistent panic attacks are encouraged to test out beliefs they have related to such attacks, which can include specific fears related to bodily sensations, and to develop more realistic responses to their experiences. This is beneficial in decreasing both the frequency and intensity of panic attacks. Patients who experience obsessions and compulsions are guided to expose themselves to what they fear in a safe and controlled therapeutic environment. Beliefs surrounding their fears (of contamination, illness, inflicting harm, etc.) are identified and changed to decrease the anxiety connected with such fears." - from the National Alliance on Mental Illness

 
So, our next step is to ask ourselves... What would actually happen if_________________<insert the thing that causes you distress and/or anxiety here>? Was it not as bad as you have anticipated?

 
What is the truth that was revealed when you asked this question?

 
Has your perception changed?

 

{Apply Truth}

 
Whether we are young or older we each need to know the truth about who we are. Then when these fears arise we have been equipped to perceive the situation for what it really is and through truth we will be able to KNOW who we are. These truths can not be changed by anything that we do or anything that someone may do to us that is hurtful. We have a firm foundation, not routed in perceptions and wrong beliefs but in truth.

 
Who do you say you are?

 
I can tell you these things about you without a doubt in my mind -

 
* You are loved by God

* You have a unique and special purpose here

* You are wonderfully made

 
How does this compare to what you believe about yourself?

 

Believe me friend, even though they don't feel true at times {believe me, I understand} we can CHOOSE to say I KNOW these things are true about me. I KNOW that I am loved by God. I KNOW that I am unique and have a special purpose here. I KNOW that I am wonderfully made. We can know these things are true because they are written to us in God's Word (which is a lot like a love story - explaining who we really are and how God came to save us).

 

Another truth that we can look at is who do we believe God is?

 

Believing in His goodness, His love, His presence and what He has done for me has been so freeing. During my most difficult time of anxiety after our son Elijah's birth it was using scriptures to remind myself of who I am to God and who God is and has been to me that brought me up and out of what felt like an impossible situation. By His power I came out of it and began enjoying everyday life again :)

 

Here is my list of scriptures, thoughts and quotes from this time that I saved to my I Phone that I would open up and look at whenever I felt anxious and can now share with you :)

 




 

{Scriptures, Thoughts & Quotes – Encouragement During Times of Anxiety}

 

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16

 

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:17

 

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” Psalm 46:1-3

 

The Father will only give you what is good! - We can pray with confidence.

 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

 

Thank you that you love me so much that there is nothing I have to hide from you out of shame... Even unbelief. - Me

 

"The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

 

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

 

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!" Luke 1:45

 

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17

 

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

 

"You get up and decide you are going to be in agreement with God!" - Unknown

 

"God is faithful, by whom you were called, into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." 1 Corinthians  1:9

 

God cannot be evil or make plans for evil - it is impossible. He is good and that cannot and will not ever change! I felt God reveal this to me this morning and today in Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts she wrote: "A good God plans everything. Everything. So a good God can only... Make plans for good? He only gives good gifts? A thing of evil cannot be created by a good God?" Yes

 

"Rest and receive" - Jesus Calling

 

"Any created thing of which I am amazed, it is the glimpse of His face to which I bow down. Do I have eyes to see it’s Him and not the thing?" - Ann Voskamp

 

"If I can give thanks for the good things, the hard things, the absolute everything, I can enter the gates of glory. Living in His presence is fullness of joy- and seeing shows the way in."  - Ann Voskamp One Thousand Gifts

 

"His love had invited me into this part of the answer - wouldn't He lead on into the rest?" - Ann Voskamp One Thousand Gifts. Yes! I can trust God!

 

"I have come for you my child :)". "The rest I will also do!"

 

"I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you." – Jesus J John 16:22

 

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation." Isaiah 12:22

 

“We are already citizens of heaven”, live as citizens of heaven :) - Pastor Toomer, Transit Church

 

"Here lies another day. During which I have had eyes, ears, hands. And the great world round me." One Thousand Gifts Ann Voskamp

 

"The Lord of Heavens Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress." Psalm 46: 11

Reading over these scriptures, thoughts and quotes again I am reminded of how much they helped me! As my eyes were lifted off of my myself, my fears and back onto God and what He has and is doing in my life I was able to rest… *sigh* Isn’t that what so many of us are needing? A good ol’ rest J

 



 

As I came to trust in God’s goodness and who He really is I was able to rest more and more. The Bible as well as Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts played a huge part in changing how I see God.

 



 

I highly recommend the book One Thousand Gifts to anyone that is wrestling with feelings of anxiety, fear or having difficulty trusting God amidst difficult and possibly extremely hurtful or scary situations. This book is going to be a part of the GIVEAWAY at the end of this series J Excited to share it with one of you (deep down wish I could send each of you a copy… maybe one day God willing J) Ann Voskamp also has a blog that has also been SO helpful to me! So encouraging!

 

Here is a link to Ann’s Blog if you are interested in checking it out:


 
Here is a link to a recent post on anxiety titled “The 1 Secret to Squashing Anxiety This Year”:


 

I hope and pray that you have been encouraged and that this helps you practically in your moments where you are faced with a fear, a belief or a feeling of anxiety. Love you all and look forward to the next part of the series on Nutrition; how it effects our emotions and what we can do to help!

 
If you have any prayer requests – things I can be praying for you about specifically please feel free to message or email anytime!

 
Also don’t forget to comment below by just saying hi and telling us a little bit about yourself to be entered into the GIVEAWAY at the end of the series - you only need to comment on one post to be entered!! If you feel lead to share this post on your Facebook page let me know you did so in your comment below and you will be given an extra entry in the giveaway! Feel free to invite friends to come enter the giveaway also :)

 

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