Finding Peace in an Anxious World (Part 1)
Are you feeling more anxious lately? The last year has certainly presented us with a gamut of things that trigger anxiety. From the pandemic, hurricanes, and political friction to the daily stressors we individually face, it is understandable that we are fearful. Symptoms of anxiety are at an all-time high, and people who never struggled with anxiety are now seeking help.
Last year, The amount of Americans reporting anxiety symptoms was triple the number of those in 2019. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
Anxiety can be described as a feeling of fear, worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiety’s purpose is to alert us to potential danger and mobilize us to respond. Anxiety is not inherently a problem — although it is uncomfortable and unpleasant — it is a necessary emotion. We all observe anxiety at times, because underneath this emotion lies a need for safety, security, and control. However, when our mind and body start preparing for every possible worst-case scenario, and we grasp for control in every situation, anxiety becomes exhausting.
As explained in this TEDx Talk, “There’s a difference between experiencing anxiety and suffering from it.” Are you experiencing anxiety, or are you suffering from it? Is anxiety serving its purpose to protect you, or is it holding you hostage?
Consider the following questions:
Is anxiety lying to you? – Do the things you worry about rarely come true? Does
anxiety tell you that you’re not resilient enough to cope with the unexpected? Has anxiety developed a belief within you that no one else can be trusted or relied upon?
What is anxiety costing you? –Is anxiety preventing you from living in the present moment, because you are stuck in the future what-ifs? Are you passing up opportunities due to fear? Do you avoid relationships, assuming something bad will happen?
It is unrealistic to expect that we will never feel anxious, but anxiety is taxing to our mind, heart, and body, so it is natural that we want to avoid it. Unfortunately, the relief we feel from avoiding our anxiety is often short lived. Rather than avoiding it altogether, let’s change the lens through which we view anxiety. It is possible to experience anxiety, and not suffer from it.
If anxiety is ruling your life, let me remind you that anxiety does not define who you are, or your value. You are more than the anxiety that you feel, and with help, you can overcome its stronghold in your life.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31: 6 NIV
Stay tuned to Part 2 of this blog series, for tips on breaking the cycle of anxiety, plus details on our upcoming Anxiety Group.