This is the final post in a 3-part series on anxiety. So many women are plagued by anxious thoughts and feel isolated in their struggles. We hope to bring unity through these posts and healing by sharing personal testimonials, resources and a therapist's response. Please join us in this conversation so we can kindly come alongside and help one another deal with life in ways that bring God glory. Don't forget to read and share the other articles on anxiety: How Allowing God to Use Your Anxiety Can Set You Free and Letting Go of Anxiety. Comments from therapists are meant to further our conversation, but not intended as medical or professional advice.
Nerves. Stress. Anxiety. There is potential for stress in every aspect of our daily lives. But sometimes that stress grows into anxiety. You may feel racing thoughts come on, your heart beating faster, and butterflies in your stomach. Sometimes your muscles will tighten and you feel out of breath just sitting in your office chair. If this describes you trying to figure out what to cook for dinner, or when your boss asks for a meeting in their office, you’ve probably experienced anxiety.
The stress in our lives sends us into flight or fight mode, releasing adrenaline that gives us energy. The purpose of this energy is to help us accomplish the stressful task. Racing thoughts come in handy when needing to make quick decisions - like when that car in front of you slammed on their breaks on NW Expressway during rush hour.
The problem of anxiety comes when the amount of stress we feel and adrenaline released exceeds the amount of energy we need to accomplish the task. That excess energy is what causes our bodies to feel what was described in the beginning paragraph. Why do we get this excess feeling of anxiety? Because our perceptions of and thoughts about the situation are distorted by lies and faulty assumptions.
A few common thinking distortions are blaming and emotional thinking. Blaming can take two forms: when we blame others for our problems or blame ourselves for other’s problems. I find that women tend to blame themselves more.
For example, when our husbands or friends are in a bad mood, we may blame ourselves and think, “I must have done something to cause this.” When our teen gets a bad grade, we can blame ourselves and think, “I could have pushed them harder to study.” Emotional thinking goes like this: “If I feel it’s true, then it must be true.” After a bad day full of mistakes, we may feel, “I’m a terrible mom or worker.” Then, we believe those feelings are actually true.
What can we do to deal with the problem of anxiety? We can filter our thoughts through two things: clear reason and the truth of God’s word. Clear reason helps us get off the crazy train of distorted thinking. In the blaming example above, clear reasoning could sound like this: “I am not responsible for other people’s choices or emotions.” If you’re having a hard time using clear reason by yourself, talk to a trusted friend or professional.
God’s Word can keep us anchored in the truth that transcends our stressful situation. In the emotional reasoning example of believing we are a terrible mom or worker, God’s word could be the “true north” needed to remind ourselves that our worth and value lie in whose we are and not what we accomplish. For this, I like Ephesians 2:10, Romans 8:15-17, and 2 Timothy 1:7. Scripture gives us hope that even if we mess everything up or the worst does happen, we are still loved and cherished by the God that provides new mercy for us daily.
I’m curious...have you ever felt anxious? What has most helped you? Do you have some favorite passages on anxiety?
Meet the Author!
Phoebe is a therapist at Connect Counseling at Deaconess Pregnancy and Adoption, mom to the very lively Vivi and very chill Charlie, and wife to Jeff. You may spot her out and about at almost any Target in the area with a coconut milk latte in hand. She enjoys nonfiction books, Disney movies, and helping others find peace and healing in the hope of the Gospel.
This blog is meant to further the conversation about mental health and is not intended as medical or professional advice.