It is estimated that as many as one-third of the American population struggle with anxiety issues. An overall feeling of nervousness, dread, or unease, anxiety can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including, but certainly not limited to, irritability, muscle tension, chronic pain, difficult concentrating, insomnia, headaches, heart palpitations, and difficulty breathing.
Anxiety can be the difference between saying yes to a Friday night social gathering or staying in to try and manage your oncoming panic attack. It can be the thing can keeps you up at night, the thing that keeps you down in the morning, and the thing that keeps you away from chasing your dreams.
Anxiety in a man (or woman’s) heart brings it down.
But I’m guessing if you’re reading this, then you already know that.
I am a yoga teacher. I love the practice and I teach it because I think it helps people stay healthy. Hands down, lower back pain and tight hamstrings are the most common complaint I hear from my students in the yoga setting (hint: they’re often related). But just beyond the back and the hammies, anxiety ranks right up there as a top reason that my students turn to their mats.
If anxiety brings a heart down, what brings it up?
Well, there are a lot of things that can help. I polled a few friends to see what tactics they most often employed when faced with the manifestations of anxiety, whether they be emotional, mental, or physical. Here’s what they said:
- Regular exercise
- A healthy diet
- Plenty of rest
- Anti-anxiety medicines
- Talk therapy
- Alternative treatments like yoga, tapping, tai-chi, and acupuncture
I’ve tried most of these things and would agree that they can offer substantial benefits towards anxiety-free living. But I’d like to add one more thing to that list: God’s Word.
I know what it feels like to wake up with worry. I know what it feels like to dread the night. I know what it feels like to think that a heart attack is imminent. I know what it feels like to say “no” because fear keeps me from saying “yes.”
I know these things because my doctor has told me to prepare my bucket list and live my life well. Shortened life expectancies and major medical events don’t come with a get-out-of-anxiety-jail-free pass.
But I’ve found that the key to fighting anxiety is letting go of what man says and clinging to what God says. And we’ve got direct access to what He says in the Bible.
As a yoga teacher, I’ve got a heap of tangible tools to help battle anxiety on a physical level. But as a follower of Jesus and a student of God’s Word, I’ve got even more resources to battle anxiety on a mental and emotional level. And in my experience, the real battle over anxiety starts in the heart.
So this is where we’ll begin. With God’s Word. I could tell you that His Word is transformative. That it changes things. That it changes lives. I could tell you that above all the tactics I have tried to lessen my anxiety, it is God’s Word alone that has enabled me to greet each day with courage in spite of the diagnosis that I carry.
But these sorts of things are best learned when we can settle them in our own hearts first. So have a look at Matthew 6:25-34. We’ll be taking a look at it tomorrow, along with a tangible tip on how to quickly recognize when anxiety is creeping in.
You are not alone. God loves you and He desires a courageous life for you, free from worry and anxiety. I’ll see you tomorrow!