After the birth of my daughter, I found myself where many of you are.... battling anxiety. I WORRIED about germs, safety, aging- you name it. I struggled with sleeping, although I was tired. Bad news was hard to handle- both from my loved ones and from the local news. I actually had to stop watching the news for a while. Anxiety was not fun. Freedom came with the help of the Lord and some great encouragement from my mother, the COO of a local mental health facility. She is absolutely amazing! I feel like a bootleg therapist sometimes because she has taught me so much! With God's help, I was able to gain freedom from anxiety so much so that I didn't feel overwhelmed with worries after the birth of my second daughter. Below, I share some things that I hope will be an encouragement to you in your fight for freedom from anxiety!
1. First, let's take a look at one of the things that is happening physically: Your shallow breathing. Many times, without knowing it, we are breathing from our chest. This strenuous breathing impacts our blood flow! It can cause heart palpitations and even light headedness. When I had just experienced the birth of my first daughter, my breathing was so shallow that it made my head and limbs feel numb, I thought something had gone wrong with the surgery, and I was so scared. My mother simply taught me how to take very deep breaths. In and out, very slowly and deliberately, allow your tummy to inflate with air like a balloon. Slowly release the air. Repeat for a few times daily, especially when you feel the anxiety coming on!
2. Now, let's take a look at your mind. Anxiety comes from what you are thinking or worrying about. Sometimes we are aware of our anxious thoughts, and at other times, those anxious thoughts are deep in our subconscious mind. What has been weighing on you? It is a worry that something will go wrong or will not happen the way you hope for? It is fear for your family members? Are you anxious that you will fail or that you are incapable of doing that task? You really have to think about what you are thinking about- that is what my mother always tells her girls. The trick is that thought replacement will kick those negative worrisome thoughts to the curb and replace them with what is true. I ALWAYS REPLACE MY NEGATIVE THOUGHTS WITH THE WORD OF GOD. It is so powerful to simply remind yourself that no weapon formed against you will prosper or that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength! In Ephesians, one of the first pieces of armor against the attacks of the enemy is the belt of TRUTH. We dwell on the enemy's lies, and it causes us to have anxiety!
3. So we have looked at breathing strategies, and we have briefly explored though replacement, but another thing that really helps is getting into that subconscious mind! Did you know that there are YouTube videos that you can listen to while you sleep that will speak positive words and even Scriptures into your subconscious? Be careful to find the right stuff, but when you do- listen to them as you rest! It really does help- especially with those who suffer with sleeplessness.
4. This one is really practical! Don't underestimate the power of a nice warm cup of chamomile and lavender tea! Even using essential oils can help you to calm your anxiety. If you are able to get a massage, listen to soothing music, or even sit out in nature, that may help too!
5. This one may be a little more challenging, but exercise makes a big difference! Exercise really helps with getting oxygen to the body. The endorphins released actually act as painkillers, and they help with getting better sleep. These are the same chemicals released with deep breathing, meditation, and massages! In addition to some good ole exercise, it is also important to eat healthy foods that a rich in nutrients and vitamins. Overeating and junky processed food call for a lot from our bodies, and that takes away from the restorative work that we need.
6. In our day and age, community is becoming extinct! But community really helps with anxiety when it is pressure free and refreshing! Allowing people into your life and space for some help and laughter will really make a difference. Inviting someone over or going out can take your mind off of whatever is causing you to worry. Living in the moment can help a whole lot. Instead of anticipating the dreadful future or reminiscing on things that are no longer possible to change, live in the present moment. Take in the sounds, smells, tastes, and beauty of the things around you right now.
7. Finally, the last thing I will share was my strongest weapon again anxiety. It was PRAYER. I really began to talk to God about all of the worries I had about being a new mother. The fear of taking care of this little new precious life was overwhelming to me. And I shared it with the Lord in constant prayer and worship. I lifted my hands to Him, believing that He would help me with the symptoms I felt. I put my complete faith in the God who I had preached about, and He came through for me. No medication was necessary (that means everything to a breastfeeding mother)! Prayer was the most powerful thing for me that season. It works.
These are just some of the things that can help you through mild anxiety. If 90% percent of the things we worry about never happen, let's try to stop worrying. God is able to take care of it all, I promise. I must say that if you are experiencing major anxiety or anxiety that you just can't shake, seeking professional help is 100% necessary.