Mental Health: How I Cope with Anxiety

Karissa from The Rooted Fruit is a good friend of TheHopeLine and she generously shared this important video with us about how she copes with anxiety.  We hope you will gain some valuable insight from what she shares.

My Personal Struggle with Anxiety

Today I want to talk about anxiety.  Anxiety is something that I have personally struggled with for a really long time, and I figured that sharing my story could maybe help someone. Even if it helps one person, it’s totally worth sharing.

Growing up I went through some crazy situations, and I internalized everything, and I didn’t really know how to process it. So, I didn’t talk about it and eventually that formed into full-on anxiety. I just didn’t know what to do. I was always in my head and then when you say it out loud you think people won’t understand and that causes you to feel more anxious. It’s like this crazy cycle.

It wasn’t until about three years ago that I actually started to talk about the anxiety and things that I was feeling. I was in a really dark place, and I was feeling extremely depressed. I was struggling severely with anxiety every single day. I felt like anxiety was at my bedroom door knocking and as soon as I entertained one of those anxious thoughts, it was like the door would bust open and I would just get beat to the ground. I would have a full-on panic attack. It often feels to me like the world is caving in and the walls are closing in and like I can’t breathe.

I want those that struggle with anxiety to know that they’re not alone.

I want to share some of the tools that I have used to help manage my anxiety, so that I can have control over the anxiety and the anxiety doesn’t have control over me.

Be Intentional with Your Thoughts

First, I realized that I need to be really intentional about my thoughts. That’s where anxiety comes in and that’s where the enemy comes in…our minds. So, I am really intentional about what I allow myself to think about it. It is so tempting to think about the anxiety, and it is right there all of the time, but I need to not look at it. I need to keep my eyes focused on God and not on what the enemy was trying to make me feel anxious about.

Read God’s Word

I began to read the word of God (the Bible) and I began to specifically read the Psalms. Anxiety attacks people in different ways and for me personally it was often not feeling good enough and not feeling safe. I read Psalm 139 which talks about God knowing me before I was even born and that He knew me when I was in my mother’s womb. It just reminds me that I am God’s daughter and that I don’t have to do anything to try to be someone or to earn anyone’s love. He loves me because I am his daughter.

At that time, I really honestly couldn’t even worship. I talked to God and said, “God it’s just me and I need you.” Then I realized that is all He actually ever wanted, and it was o.k. and he just wanted me to be with Him. I would also say, “God, if perfect love casts out fear then God, I need your perfect love to cast out fear right now. I need your perfect love so I’m not feeling this anxiety.

And even if I am feeling it, I know that your word is true. Even above my feelings and what I’m experiencing, your word is still true.” I speak out those scriptures and remind myself of the truth because I couldn’t see the truth in the moment.

So if you’re struggling with anxiety begin to read the Word every day. Read Psalm 139, Psalm 91, 1 John 4:18. Believe the word over what you're experiencing because God‘s word is true and solid. My perceptions of what was happening weren’t always the truth, but God’s word is truth.

Listen to Positive Calming Music

I also have some songs I listen to that really help me even in the middle of an attack. One of them is Breath Back by Amanda Cook that I highly recommend listening to. If you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack, if you’re having an anxious moment, it reminds you to calm down and that God is in the middle of it with you.

Talk to Yourself

Something else for me in the middle of my anxiety attacks is that I need to remember that I am going to be OK. I tell myself, “It’s going to be OK Karissa…you’re OK”. I tell myself these things because a lot of times anxiety tries to overwhelm you and tell you that things aren’t going to be OK and that you’re in danger or that it’s all your fault. You have to talk to yourself and remind yourself of the truth because sometimes these voices will come from all over, but you have to take control over the thoughts. I go by 2 Corinthians 10:15 which talks about taking our thoughts captive. When these thoughts go by, I literally start thinking, “The truth is God loves me. The truth is I’m going to be OK. Everything might not be OK right now, but I’m going to be OK.”

Journaling

Something else that really helped me was journaling…writing out all of my thoughts and feelings.  I get it out there on paper and out of my mind because anxiety is often all in your mind. It feels like your mind is really crowded. So when you’re journaling, you’re helping to detox your brain.

Another thing that I would do when I was feeling really anxious is I would go for a run or a really gnarly workout. That would just help release the energy and everything that built up. A lot of times I feel anxiety in my actual body, and I would just exhaust myself in the gym or wherever.

Go Outside and Ground Yourself

Something else that would help me a lot that I used to cope was I would just go outside. Feel the sun on my skin, put my feet in the grass or the dirt and I would remember that I’m human. I’m alive. I’m connecting to something that’s stable because my thoughts were so unstable. I just needed to feel grounded. I would practice deep breathing.

Study Up

There’s also this really great book that I read called Switch on Your Brain by doctor Caroline Leaf.  This book really helped me with realizing the reality of my own thoughts. It helped me become aware of the thoughts that I was allowing myself to entertain and helped me with properly detoxing my brain.

Download an App

Leaf also has an app called The Switch. I highly recommended this as well. She actually takes you through a 21-day brain detox which is incredible. You journal and she talks to you and it’s so calming. I love it so much. I highly recommend using those tools as well.

Find a Counselor

Then lastly something that I did was I talked to someone about my anxiety. Last year I had a really bad anxiety attack and I realized that I needed to go to counseling. I needed to talk to someone. But I didn’t want to just go to anyone. I went to Spirit-filled counselor, which is someone that believes in God and will be led by God in the counseling session. It was transformational for me and one of the biggest things that helped me the most.

Developing a Self-Care Plan and Box

I thought it would also be helpful if I talked about a self-care plan. If you are someone that deals with anxiety, I think it’s super important that you develop a self-care plan. In your self-care plan there should be:

  1. Contact Information for a Friend - The name and number of someone that you know that you can talk to about what you are feeling. You can send this person a text message and say, “Hey, can you pray for me I’m struggling with some anxiety right now.” I had a friend like that and it was so helpful. Find someone that you don’t need to explain what is going on. Someone who will just say, “Yes I’m praying for you.” Sometimes with anxiety you can’t always explain what it is that you’re feeling anxious about, and when someone asks, it may just make it worse.
  2. A deep breathing tool. Try this app Breathe2Relax
  3. A playlist of calming music.
  4. Something to physically touch. I included a rock in mine.
  5. Something that you can physically smell. I would put an essential oil called valor on the rock and then I would be touching it and getting my senses to really hone in and not be everywhere.
  6. A letter to yourself that you have written when you’re not in an anxious moment. You can say – “Hey I know it feels as if the world is crashing down on you right now, but you’re going to be OK. you’re going to make it through this. Don’t make an irrational decision based on the feeling you’re feeling right now. This feeling isn’t going to last forever.”
  7. A Bath Bomb. Remind yourself to go take a bath to calm your body down and calm your mind down.
  8. Include something to tear up. Include some paper or an old T-shirt. Something to get the aggression out.

Anxiety Triggers

I know that there are certain things that I can and cannot do.

Caffeine.

I cannot have caffeine. I love coffee so much, but I really can’t have caffeine. The most I can do is one shot of espresso and sometimes that’s not even a good idea. There is a gene which some people have that actually triggers anxiety when you have caffeine. This might be you. Cut out the caffeine and see if it makes a difference.

Social Media.

I can’t look at certain people’s Instagram or Facebook or some old memories because I know that it’s going to trigger those feelings, and I don’t need to be feeling those things.

Know Yourself.

You know yourself better than anyone else. There are things that will trigger you. So just don’t do that. It sounds so simple, but you need to be kind to yourself in order to help yourself.

Finding God’s Peace

As I’ve said, you are not alone. I’ve had some of the worst panic attacks where my arms and legs have completely gone numb, and I can honestly tell you God has been the one that has helped me through. It hasn’t been an overnight fix. Sometimes when you’re having an anxiety attack your body is like a train and it is just going and there are times where I have felt God‘s peace after the point where my body had already been growing in the anxiety, and so it’s like my body just had to run its course of the anxiety attack. Then after it was done, I was OK. It’s so important to remember that God is still with you even in the middle of your anxiety. He doesn’t want you to struggle with anxiety, but he knows that it’s real. He wants you to remember that he’s with you in the middle of it, and it is something that you can and will overcome if you continue to surrender and submit it to Him.

For more visit, The Rooted Fruit, on YouTube. A journey to being healthy in spirit, mind and body. 

When you struggle with shame, anxiety is never far behind. Understanding how they're connected may help you cope better. Here's how

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