by Melissa Maimone
Anxiety and/or depression can be an isolating experience. It’s difficult to put into words, let alone describe it to others! It’s tempting to believe we are alone in our experience and that even God isn’t there for us.
But here’s the truth:
–God sees you and is intimately familiar with your story. He has counted the hairs on your head and knows every tear that has fallen from your eyes. Jesus himself was overwhelmed at times. He has walked in your shoes. Your journey matters to Him. (Matthew 10:30, Psalm 56:8, Matthew 26:38)
–Depression and anxiety are not moral failings. But if we ignore, stuff down, or disassociate from the things in our life that are, it can take a toll on our health. We all are sinful. We all need forgiveness. We all need a way to be free of shame. The things we struggle with most deeply are the things that need God’s grace most deeply. And He’s got it to give. (Matthew 12:20, Romans 3:23)
— God is crazy about you. He loves you. He’s not waiting for you to “get your act together”. He just wants you–exactly the way you are. If you haven’t turned over your heart, your trust, and your pain to Jesus Christ, I invite you to do it now. (John 3:16, Luke 10:9-14, Matthew 11:28)
1. RECOGNIZE THE ENEMY.
Know the difference between the cruel voice of the enemy and the kindness of God who says there is nothing you can do (or not do) that will change His limitless love for you.
2. EMBRACE LIMITATIONS.
You are not going to be enough for all that life demands–and you are not supposed to be! Anxiety will tell you that you are failing–but your limitations are a beautiful part of the way you were made; embrace them (and give shame the boot).
This time will not last forever. It WILL pass.
You won’t die, even if you’re sure you will. It feels like an eternity when you’re experiencing anxiety, but it always, always will go away.
Journal what is going on–it’s a great way to make that unruly mob of thoughts slow down, get in line, and behave enough to be put into words. Your thoughts don’t need to make sense–just get them on paper.
Cancel appointments. Put a DVD on for the kids. Move at a slower pace. You will only add to the shame and even the duration of your anxiety by forcing yourself to behave as if nothing is happening.
Tell God what is happening.
–Even if your thoughts feel petty or weird–tell Him everything you are worried about and feeling. Worries, when given to God, are prayers.
Tell someone you trust what is happening.
–When you talk to a friend about your feelings, it is unhealthy and unfair to want the other person to become anxious with you. It’s more helpful if they don’t. So don’t resent them if they remain calm in the midst of your panic. They are doing you both a favor.
–A husband can be a tremendous source of comfort. But if you are exclusively talking about it with him and not a friend or therapist, you are probably adding to his anxiety since he can’t actually fix it for you.
7. GET PHYSICAL.
There is plenty of research that proves exercise helps depression and anxiety. It’s probably the LAST thing you feel like doing in the throes of panic, but if you can, get out and walk. If you can’t, wait for it to pass–then work exercise into your regular routine as preventative medicine.
8. ASSESS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH STARBUCKS.
I know, this is my least favorite tip too. But if you are past 1-2 cups of coffee per day, you might be ingesting hot-brewed anxiety. It’s time to explore Chamomile tea.
9. GET HELP.
If depression or anxiety is regularly affecting your way of life, it’s time to seek medical attention. A doctor might be able to find health related issues that can be contributing factors. Medication may be an option. A trained counselor/therapist can be wonderfully helpful too.
10. WHEN IT PASSES (and it will)…
-Rest: A panic attack is exhausting. Give yourself time to recoup.
-Reflect: What were you doing when your anxiety came on? Where were you? What did you eat/drink? Who were you with? You might uncover some clues to the root of what brings on your anxiety. There will not always be an obvious reason for feeling overwhelmed–but it’s worth thinking through.
-Remember: Take time to put into your memory bank that this did indeed end. Recount how many hours/minutes your anxiety attack actually lasted. Chances are that it was a shorter amount of time than it felt. That info might be important to remember the next time an attack happens.
(See tip #3)
Melissa Maimone is a living testament to God’s ability to shine light in the darkest of places. Through lessons learned from her life-long battle with depression and anxiety, Melissa has a passion to share the healing love of God and the joy that comes from living an authentic life of vulnerability and dependency on Him. Subscribe to her monthly blog and/or contact Melissa at MelissaMaimone.com