Did you know that about nineteen million Americans struggle with anxiety? Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States today. I work at NewPointe Community Church and have talked with many people that struggle with anxiety. Many struggle to the point that they can’t have healthy relationships, can’t keep steady employment and have multiple health problems.
Anxiety and worry go hand in hand. Worry is focused negative thinking, which can lead to anxiety which is the unpleasant sense of apprehension that comes with physical symptoms like sweaty palms, shallow breathing, rapid heart rate and general nervousness. Often worry and anxiety come from stress, it could be relational stress, financial stress, work stress, family stress. When a person is in constant stress their body produces way to much adrenaline and other chemicals that cause those physical symptoms. Over time anxiety gets worse and worse and our thinking begins to drive the anxiety.
For many people worry has simply become a mental habit. They automatically see events in their lives in terms of worse-case scenarios. Anxiety is often triggered by lies we believe and focus on in a negative way. The worrier will lie awake at night going through all kinds of what-if scenarios.
To overcome anxiety a person needs to deal with the root cause of the worry and anxiety. What lies are you believing about yourself, God and the world around you? The best way to identify lies we are believing is by reading truth. That is why I keep eleven truth statements in my desk drawer. I read through these on a regular basis and hand them out to people that are struggling with worry. These eleven statements come from the Bible. I often prescribe this to people by asking them to read these eleven truth statements out loud once a day for two weeks. What that does, is it brings your focus to something good and positive and true, even if it’s only a short period of time. If you can do that for 3-4 weeks it becomes a habit and can start to change the way we think.
To overcome anxiety you must develop new healthy habits for dealing with stress. Meditation is also focused thinking, but is focused on what is good. Meditating on Scripture is a great way to deal with stress. Prayer has also been proven to actually lower your blood pressure and reduce stress.
Philippians 4:6-7 says “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
In Mathew 6 Jesus teaches about freedom from anxiety. In verse 25 Jesus says, “Therefore I say unto you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.” Again in verse 34 Jesus says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.” In other words, live in the present and don’t worry about the future which you can’t control or the past that you can’t change. Jesus is encouraging us to pray and give thanks instead of worrying. An attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving relaxes the body and calms the mind.
1 Peter 5:7 says “Give all your worries to him, because he cares about you.”