Healing from anxiety doesn’t need to feel hopeless. On today’s episode of the podcast, I am diving into making plans to manage anxiety, better deal with worry, and to release fear – all the things that you deal with on an everyday basis. If you’re looking for help for anxiety, listen in as I cover anxiety triggers, what causes anxiety in the brain, and ways you can start healing from anxiety, taking the first steps towards managing these feelings and patterns in your life.
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:
- [02:51] Ways you may be managing your anxiety
- [05:05] What causes anxiety in the brain
- [09:26] Alicia’s personal story of anxiety triggers
- [14:33] Alicia’s turning point in healing from anxiety
- [18:56] Why having a plan can help you on your journey of healing from anxiety
- [20:00] Specific tools that can provide help for anxiety
- [24:20] Questions for reflection
[02:51] Ways you may be managing your anxiety
There are four common responses to managing anxiety. Do you tell yourself to just stop worrying about it? Do you pray harder and ask God to please change the situation or make it go away? Maybe you stay overly busy and distracted? Or do you find yourself beating yourself up continually, asking why you’re still worrying about this and thinking you must be doing something wrong? You may have even experienced a mixture of all of the above. Even if you haven’t clearly defined the specific way that you’re managing your anxiety, these are very common, natural strategies that we have as a response to anxiety.
The important next step is to get to the root of what is causing our anxiety and develop some specific life skills around it. Some of us are more prone to anxiety and maybe have dealt with it our whole life. There are genetic links to anxiety, personalities that tend to gravitate more towards using anxiety to deal with problems, it could be a result of past trauma, or maybe a coping mechanism that you’ve seen modeled as a child, whether you realize it or not. No matter how it comes about, we can say a very simple statement to ourselves to help us kickstart change. “This is no longer working for me. This is not helping me. This is not moving me forward towards freedom towards joy in Christ.”
If you’re looking for help with your anxiety, you can check out the Calm Your Anxiety Toolkit here.
[05:05] What causes anxiety in the brain
Anxiety triggers can be difficult to pinpoint at times. The thing that we need to understand is that fear is the base emotion behind anxiety. When we fear, we are believing in a reality that is beyond what we know or can control. In these moments, we have somehow told ourselves that God and His goodness are not in that reality. This subconscious belief is what causes us to stay stuck in a pattern of feeling like we need to fix the situation ourselves. It's something that our brain has been conditioned to learn. Our brain is always learning, always changing, which is what we refer to as brain plasticity. This is why it’s important for us to understand what causes anxiety in the brain.
Brain plasticity is the concept that our brain is being shifted and changed by every thought or emotion that we have. The thoughts that you have had and the experiences you have gone through are rewiring your brain to connect in different ways.
Even if you dealt with anxiety in a healthy way during one season of your life, if you begin to manage anxiety in an unhealthy way, those previous patterns can slowly creep back in with us even realizing it. Before you know it, our healthy patterns have reverted into negative ones. We have to not only notice that the reactions and patterns exist, we have to take the time to understand how and why they have been created.
The bottom line is, there is help for anxiety. Whatever pattern you have for dealing with anxiety, you don't have to stay stuck in it. This is not your fate for the rest of your life. If you’d like help healing from anxiety, you can join us in the Free Workshop: Break Free from Anxiety.
[09:26] Alicia’s personal story of anxiety triggers
Friends, I wanted to share my personal story of anxiety triggers, so that you can learn more about what transformation is possible for you and see how much anxiety really was a part of my everyday life. I share more about this in Episode 200 of the podcast.
I experienced anxiety from a very young age, always feeling worried about what others thought of me. I was so worried that I would often be sick at my own birthday parties, or anytime I had a friend over, because I was constantly worried about whether or not I invited the right people and if they would end up talking about me afterward. As a young child, these questions gave me stomach pains and headaches frequently, although at the time we didn’t understand the link between anxiety and physical reactions in the body.
My anxiety kept me working really hard, always achieving and trying to shape shift in order to make people happy, and to do the “right thing,” but for the wrong reason. Reflecting now, I recognize that I wasn’t acting this way because it was the right thing to do in God's eyes, but because I was trying to please other people, trying to get to that next accomplishment. I didn’t know any other way to be. I carried these patterns into parenthood and my career, and developed a second anxious strategy of trying to anticipate needs and what could go wrong across all scenarios.
Now, as an adult, I know that we can learn from our mistakes, or our previous patterns of anxiety. I’m currently reading a book by author Daniel Pink, The Power of Regret, that sheds light on this topic in a powerful way. During my journey of seeking healing for anxiety, I realized and had to accept that the fear I was feeling, the fear of letting people down or not being enough, wasn't going to go away. There were always going to be reasons for me to feel that way, especially because this world is full of uncertainties. I realized that the ways I had been trying to define myself were not going to be things that were going to help me find stability in the way I really needed it, especially in terms of managing fear.
[14:33] Alicia’s turning point in healing from anxiety
A big piece of healing from anxiety is to realize that, in some capacity, fear is going to be our constant companion. This doesn't mean that fear has to run the show, but it can help bring us into the awareness that we need to stop being angry about fear being present.
I was stuck in a cycle of varying levels of anger for a long period of time. Questions like, “Why is it still happening to me, God, why am I still afraid? What's wrong with me?” and “Why can’t I fix this?” constantly ran through my mind. When we understand that there is always going to be a reason to worry, that there’s nothing wrong with us for not being able to make the trigger go away, then we can begin to heal and find healthy ways to cope.
Jesus said that in this world, we will have trouble but that we can take heart because He has overcome the world. So we know that fear can exist, but that it doesn’t have to be the emotion that drives us.
This was a huge turning point for me, realizing that even though I couldn’t stop the fear or anxiety trigger from coming, I could control how I responded to that trigger. It was then that I decided that I didn't want to let fear, worry, and anxiety be the boss of me anymore, and I realized how much it had stolen from me in terms of my physical and emotional wellness.
As Christ followers, the only thing meant to lead or be in control is the Spirit of God. When we let worry and fear take that role, in some ways we are letting them be our God. They are natural responses, there can be good reasons that they exist, so I want you to know that we’re not to feel shame because of our anxiety, but that we all have to come to the realization that the thing that is controlling us, is the thing that is our God. John 16:13 talks about how we have the mind of Christ and Galatians 5:16 highlights the fact that the only thing that's supposed to be in control of our lives is the Spirit of God. We have the power to rise above our pain, so we don't have to run from it. We don't have to let our anxiety triggers control us.
[18:56] Why having a plan can help you on your journey of healing from anxiety
If you’re ready to start healing from anxiety, you need a plan. You need a plan deeper than the awareness of having anxiety, more actionable than telling yourself to stop worrying or taking deep breaths. Those surface level steps, while some may work for a brief moment, will have you defaulting right back into your previous patterns of anxiety.
Everyone’s plan is different, so while I may not be able to offer you an exact plan over the podcast, I know that there are specific ways you can cultivate that plan. There are tried and true ways of managing anxiety that could work for you. The bottom line is, you need to be able to walk through a process to help you figure out what that plan looks like for you. That's one of the things you can start to uncover in my new, free workshop Break Free from Anxiety.
[20:00] Specific tools that can provide help for anxiety
In order to identify your anxiety triggers and seek help for anxiety, you need to be able to gather tools from brain science, identifying the things that are working to change our thoughts and patterns. Then, you can begin to work on changing these patterns that have been established in our mind around anxiety. You need in-the-moment strategies that work as a guideline, showing you where to start and what to try next, giving you opportunities of trial and error to see what works best for you and your unique brain chemistry.
You need a more active approach, going steps beyond simply breathing or praying more. If you are at a place where you're ready to let go of anxiety and find a different way to manage the fear that's in your life, I’m inviting you to step into my brand new, free workshop that covers three steps to freedom from anxiety, the Break Free from Anxiety Workshop..
Inside this workshop, you’ll learn some basic information about why certain patterns occur, and what you can do to break free from them. You're also going to learn about some of the myths that we deal with when we're trying to overcome anxiety, as well as some action steps to take. Some of those steps include working through the Calm Your Anxiety Toolkit, and carefully cultivated Bible study to help you welcome in God’s spirit and let it be the reigning force of everything that happens in your life. It's a 30 day study that walks you through how to calm your heart around anxiety, using Bible verses and connecting with the Spirit of God.
[24:20] Questions for reflection
When you are seeking help for anxiety, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you really tired of living with anxiety? Are you really done with it?
It's easy to say you don't want to feel like this anymore, but you have to decide, are you more tired of living with anxiety and its ramifications or are you more afraid and frustrated by what it will take to change?
- What is anxiety currently stealing from you? How is it stealing from you emotionally? How is it stealing from your relationships? How is it stealing from your physical health? How is it stealing from your spiritual health?
We read in the word that the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. This is an amazing tactic that he uses to keep us from connecting to God, from trusting God, and to keep us stuck in these spirals of chaos. Reflect on the questions above and let your answers be the fuel that moves you towards action in dealing with anxiety in a different way. When you’re ready to take the first step, join me inside my free workshop, Break Free from Anxiety.
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3 Steps to Freedom from Anxiety Based on Brain Science + the Bible
Do you struggle with worry and anxiety? You’re not alone—Anxiety is arguably the #1 mental health issue today, even for Christians.
As a former anxiety sufferer (and a NeuroCoach that’s worked with 100s of women) I’ve learned that we need practical mindset TOOLS (based on both brain science and God’s word) to get His calming TRUTH into our thoughts.
That’s why I host my FREE anxiety workshop: 3 Steps to Freedom from Anxiety Based on Brain Science + the Bible… and you’re invited to join me!