All posts tagged: Dealing with anxiety

Standing in Faith Against the Storm

Often during the past few weeks, I have felt fear and uncertainty rise up within me. During these times, I made a firm decision not to succumb to fear, and as soon as I did that, something changed and life suddenly felt lighter and brighter in our living room where I was standing. As I stepped forward and envisioned myself on a beach with waves rising and building on the waters before me, I was reminded of Christ’s words, “Peace to you!” Shortly after the Lord’s crucifixion, the disciples had locked themselves in a room for fear of the Jews and the uncertain times they were in. Jesus appeared in their midst saying: “Peace to you! As the Father has sent me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”  John 20:21-22 The Hebrew word for spirit in the Old Testament is ‘ruach’ and it means ‘air in motion.’ The same word is translated ‘breath’ and life’. When talking about the Holy Spirit, Jesus …

Are fear and worry weighing you down?

I was at a seminar several years back, and they wanted to show us how much negative thinking affects us. Each of us were told to hold our arms out from our side and then have someone try to push our arm down while we resisted. Most of us put up a good fight, but then we were told to have that person push down our arms while were thinking negative thoughts about ourselves. It could be anything from rehearsing past failures to thinking about how stupid we were. We all immediately noticed how much physically weaker we were when we thought negatively about ourselves. And, although our thoughts don’t hold an actual physical weight, scientists say that negative thoughts ‘weigh’ on your brain in the same way that repeated movements tire your muscles. Negativity and worry have ‘energy costs’ that can tire out our neurons, that are the physical carriers of our thoughts. As a result, we feel a ‘heaviness’ because of the emotional drain on our brain and its neurons. Negative thinking and …

The futility of worry

A recent study by researchers from Penn State exposed the futility of worry in a very “odd” way, that seems to confirm an equally “odd” statement that Jesus made about worry. Worry is a very destructive force and if we don’t control it, worry can actually cause physical damage to our bodies, in addition to the emotional stress that can lead to such things as depression. According to an article on WebMD, unchecked worry can cause the release of stress hormones such as cortisol. These hormones are released during times of extreme stress. The release of these hormones fill the body with the extra energy required during times of acute danger. However, if there is no physical release (fight or flight), these hormones sit unused and over time can potentially damage our bodies resulting in heart and digestive problems and even affect our memory and immune system. So what did those Penn State researchers uncover? Well they studied 29 people who have a serious anxiety disorder. These were top-level worriers. For one month these people …

Breathing life into your dry bones

How far can you go without breathing? In reality, you are breathing but sometimes it feels like you have stopped breathing or does it feel more like your living in the valley of dry bones where numbness has set in and you are clattering through the day just barely surviving? If I pay attention in these moments I notice that my breathing is shallow and I wonder if at times I have actually been holding my breath. I suspect that is exactly what happens as I lose myself in the course of my day full of  ‘to do lists.’ And, I am sure this happens to many of us. There is a small group of women who meet regularly on my deck to do some gentle stretching.  Each of us has tightness issues, and we have greatly benefited from this weekly routine. Sometimes between stretches we lay on our backs and notice our breathing and listen to the birds singing in the yard. Often during these times a gentle breeze will blow over us like …

Why am I so anxious?

“Do not be anxious for anything,” the Bible says (Philippians 4:6). As a psychotherapist, I regularly deal with people with serious and debilitating anxiety. And I know that simply deciding to not be anxious doesn’t work. Anxiety is the product of changes in one’s brain and autonomic nervous system as a result of trauma. And trauma is a life event that overwhelms a person’s emotional capacity and understanding. Traumatic response is marked by these characteristics: Submerged memory as the brain blocks you from again being overwhelmed; Emotional dysregulation as the brain blocks access to executive brain functions responsible for regulating how we feel and respond to stress; and Difficulty forming attachments and, sometimes, disassociation. Anxiety is what a person experiences when these characteristics are inadequate to deal with traumatic memories or new stress experiences. Anxiety is experienced emotionally, psychologically, and somatically (in the body). It is a state of readiness to either respond with aggression (fight) or by fleeing or avoiding the situation (flight). Anxiety is living in the expectation that the immediate future is …

Turning back the tide of fear and doubt

During this past week I recognized that something had changed and shifted in my life. And although at times I felt some uncertainty and doubt about the new direction I was taking as I threw off the fears and doubt that ruled my life, I knew that my position had changed, my perspective on life had shifted. Yes, there were some backlashes as I walked through the wall of fear that controlled my life, but now I am taking authority over the doubts and fear that seemingly rise out of nowhere, like a wave wanting to wash over me. Yesterday, I decided to stand my ground and the phrase, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and blow your house down” literally came to mind. Though the nursery story has the powerful wolf trying to blow down the piggy’s straw house, I sensed that God was telling me to reverse that story. We have authority. We have power in God and that satan’s attacks of fear and doubt are made of straw. We have the power to …

Grocery Store Credit: Province of British Columbia/Flickr/Creative Commons

Report: Religious people have more self-control when it comes to shopping

According to a study by three researchers from university business schools,  Didem Kurt, Boston University, J. Jeffrey Inman, University of Pittsburgh and Francesca Gino, Harvard Business School, religious people not only spend less than non-religious but they are also less likely to make impulse purchases. The study that involved looking at the results of five earlier studies on spending habits also included the group’s own research. In their study, the three researchers put 800 people through a variety of “hypothetical” shopping scenarios and as well tests to evaluate how strong their religious beliefs were. What they discovered is that an incremental increase in religious belief resulted in a 5% decrease in spending and impulsive buying. This confirmed results from a survey of spending by 2,400 people in 10 states in 2011 and 2012, conducted by Point of Purchase Advertising International. It showed that people living in more religious counties not only spent less money on groceries than people living in less religious counties, but also had “fewer impulse purchases.” There are undoubtedly a variety of …