Sometimes in this life, things, people, and behaviors can seem like our friends, but really they are not like the habit of worry and anxiety.
Our survival brain is constantly on the lookout for what can cause us harm, and the result can be stress and anxiety. Of course, if a car pulls out in front of us, we are grateful that our brain dumps out the hormone adrenaline, and we react without thinking to slam on the brakes. Then, within fifteen seconds, our body will clear that adrenaline once again, bringing ourselves into a balanced state, calmer and more resilient. Unless, of course, we overreact to the response of the adrenaline, which then can provide another reason to create more adrenaline, and round and round we can go.
The catchphrase of the person who lives, often in anxiety, is: What if? Always wondering about the worst-case scenario, which, of course, may never happen. So, of course, all that time spent in a state of stress means an increased risk of ill health. Our bodies are not designed to live under long-term stress.
In my life, I have known this all too well. Often filtering for the bad things in the past instead of looking for the good things in each day, worrying about a future that may never happen, and living with a lack of faith.
I do have faith-filled moments, of course, but I am definitely a work in progress. Because of living in a state of stress for years, I ended up in a very unwell state suffering from intense nerve pain, which absolutely crippled me. I am thankful that God provided me with an answer in the way of brain retraining. And I worked diligently to retrain my brain until there just remained a few echoes.
However, to be even more effective in reducing stress and anxiety, it is great to go to those moments of fear and trauma and heal. There are so many ways to do this.
One way to reduce anxiety is to focus on good breathing, in and out of the diaphragm. A few years ago, I went to a physiotherapist to assess my breathing, who told me I was holding my breath, and I knew I would need to relearn how to breathe. Something I recently realized is that I still need to practice.
One way to notice if you are anxious is to look at the speed of your thoughts or your speech. If you are anxious or even excited, then your thoughts and speech will be rapid, as will your breathing. If we can slow everything down, we will become more relaxed.
One reason our brains may decide to support the pattern of anxiety is that we believe it will keep us safe. But does it really?
In my own life, I have found instead, my life has become smaller, and I have isolated and taken fewer risks. I believe God wants us to have an abundant life. A big life with a positive influence on those around us. But if we live in anxiety and fear, this cannot happen. I will share more in the months ahead about how to be an overcomer in this area.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given me a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind.