It saddens me that hardly anyone today knows peace. People dressed in clown suits murder innocent passersby. Old men glance down gloomily at their feet as they stroll into the gas station. Teenagers in high school are stressed out over next week’s test and next year’s competition. We become despaired after a breakup. We feel frightened the second we turn on the news. Everyone is stressed and nobody has a calm heart. People just don’t know how to slow down anymore!
I’ve always had an issue with anxiety. Whether it’s right before I sing a solo, I’m around the guy I like, or when I have to get a needle in my arm… I dread lots of things. When I get anxious, I get nauseous and my throat closes up and I shake and get hot and get cold and don’t want to move or can’t stop moving… anxiety is a roller coaster of everything, and it’s genuinely terrible.
Over the past fourteen years of my life, I’ve found a couple of ways to lower my stress level and focus on the positives. Hopefully these can help you, too, because anxiety is one of the worst yet most common feelings there is.
The World is NOT Falling Apart
Ever heard people talking about how “___ must mean that the end of mankind is near”? Fill in the blank with things like: the election, global warming, Hurricane Matthew… Yes, the world is in pain.
Take a look around. Read the latest headlines, walk through the halls at school or work… Is the world really falling apart as people say it is?
I’m going to give you the answer up-front: no. If you don’t have a relationship with Christ, this section of the blog may be completely irrelevant to you. In fact, this entire post probably will seem like a big preaching fest. However, I will try to balance it out, and I still suggest you read it.
Revelation is one of the coolest books in The Bible I’ve ever read. I mean, guys. It literally tells us what will happen in the future. It’s like time-traveling forward when you read Revelation!
Long story short, this world will eventually be destroyed by the One who created it. He will make this world a New Earth, and Jesus will rule over it.
Okay, so big deal, right? So what.
Ever wonder why the world is so cold-hearted and lost? I’ll give you a hint: who is the best at making people doubt what they know and turn to fear?
Satan is, right now, ruling over those who do not know Christ. That’s a pretty big amount of people in the world that are following Satan without maybe even knowing it. Most of the world does not know or care about God… which means that Satan is ruling over most of the world.
Everything, good and bad, has brought glory to God in one way or another. Every little thing in your life, everything in history, whether it affected you or someone else… God has used everything to draw others to Himself, which I definitely count as a huge comfort. Somehow, my chemistry exam can be used to bring glory to The Father. All things are for our good, especially when they don’t feel like it.
I’m looking at you, fellow over-achievers and long-term planners! As an ENFJ (if you don’t know your personality type, I suggest you take the Myers-Briggs test to find out, because you can learn a lot about yourself and others!), I constantly crave productivity. Everything must get done in the right amount of time and all things have their place. But for a mentally healthy lifestyle, I have to take a step back and breathe. Obviously everyone has different needs and things they do to help them relax, but some things I do to take a breather include:
•light a candle
•listen to music
•sip a hot drink (cappuccino, hot cocoa, etc.)
•watch YouTube videos
•constructively rest (as in: nap)
•write a letter to someone (but never deliver it to them! This one is especially helpful if you’re having anxiety because of a relationship or being around a certain person. Writing to them can help you get your feelings out without actually spilling everything.)
•cuddle with my dog
•write/start writing a story
•take a long, hot shower
•bundle myself in blankets
•bake (trust me, it’s actually kind of therapeutic)
•PINTEREST (half of my procrastination time is spent on this app to be quite honest😜)
It’s okay not to be productive 100% of the time. You hear me? It’s okay. Physical health is so often pushed: get into better shape, eat clean, and take care of your skin. Mental health, on the other hand, tends to be forgotten about a lot. But I think mental health is even more important than the physical aspect of things. Take some time for yourself, allow yourself to slow down, and don’t sweat the little things.
Way easier said than done, though.
Do NOT Do More of What Makes You Happy
You know what? I just might be the first person to ever tell you this: do NOT do more of what makes you happy. Instead, do more of what makes you holy.
I know, I know. Sunday school answer, guilty as charged. But maybe this Sunday school answer isn’t too far-fetched. Now I would say, by all means, baking makes me happy. I like to bake sometimes! Does baking make me holy? I mean… not really? I’m not really sure how that would even work, so if anyone has a clue, feel free to let me know.
I’m not saying stop doing things that bring you joy. Joy and happiness are pretty closely related. But I can be having an awful day, bake cupcakes, and, while I still won’t feel any happier, at least I’ll have cupcakes! That makes me joyful, not necessarily happy. See the difference? So doing things that make you happy is okay, because sometimes doing things like baking DO end up making me happy! However. If, say, doing drugs makes you happy, DO NOT DO THAT. If disobeying your parents makes you happy, STOP feeling like it’s okay to delight in that.
You see, this whole “be happy” thing is tricky and kind of contradictory. Jesus did not say that He would bring His followers happiness. He said that if we delighted in Him, we would have joy. I’ve talked about the difference between happiness and joy before, so I’ll skip over that whole discussion. It’s okay for God-honoring things to bring us happiness. Being happy is not a sin. Please don’t think that’s what I’m getting at here. I just mean that if doing something not God-honoring is bringing you happiness (which is normal, just not what God wants for us), don’t brush it off by using the saying, “Well, I need to be happy, right? Mental health, right?”
Mental health doesn’t really mean that you’re completely happy. It means that you know everything will be okay. You’re trusting God. You don’t know where the heck you’re going or what lies ahead of you, but you know that God has you in His arms. You can take a step away from this crazy world and just relax for a second. Mental health is not about happiness, and if that’s what you’re focusing on? You’ll always feel like a failure.
🍂 🍂 🍂
For more information on this kind of thing, look up some of Nikki Phillippi’s YouTube videos on anxiety (Click here to go to Nikki’s channel). She’s definitely helped me a lot, and she’s very real about her own struggles.
Anxiety is normal and can be controlled. With The Lord’s help, I have faith that it can be conquered.
Blessings! Lauren Joy