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In this article, I share my own personal experience with anxiety and how I have battled, resisted, coped and risen above it. I am not a mental health professional, and I do believe there are more ways one could conquer and free themselves from anxiety. I hope and pray my story helps you.
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1. Let go of Pride
For years my parents called me a “worrier”. At one stage in my childhood, I was afraid of burglars coming into our house EVERY NIGHT. There is more to that story, but let me just assure you – I was anxious. But I don’t remember calling it that or ever talking to a doctor about it. At one point my dad said he might have to take me to a psychologist – but I had no idea what that meant. I thought that it might mean I had to get a brain operation. I was a kid. It was quite some time ago – and even though it is more acceptable now, going to a therapist is still not accepted as “normal” and is not completely accepted in our society.
It wasn’t until I was deep into depression that I went to a therapist.
It took a lot for me to let go of my pride and go talk to a professional.
Once I made that decision, the therapist suggested medicine. I rejected the idea over and over again. Then, once again, I let go of my pride and gave it a shot. I noticed how less anxious I felt. I remember feeling, “wow, this must be what it is like to feel normal”. I still thought about my worries and struggles – but they didn’t haunt me like they did before.
2. Know that it is okay to seek Help
Before I went to a counselor, I talked to a priest.
I told him that I was concerned because I often ask myself “What would Jesus do?”.
I told Father John that Jesus would have never gone to a counselor!
His response was not what I expected. He assured me that it was totally fine to seek help. He said that he talked to his own mother about this topic and what she said made total sense to him. Father John explained that his mother reminded him that we live in a much “faster” world. Everything in our world is so fast. Our minds and bodies face stressors that people in the ancient world never faced. As I reflect on that I think about the climate Jesus lived in . . . how it was warm most of the time. I think about how life in the Northeast is much “faster” than life in the deep south. It makes sense. Plus, it was relief to get that confident reassurance from a priest I knew and trusted.
If you are a regular reader – I apologize if you feel like I’m beating you over the head with journaling! But honestly, it works!
Even if you are simply writing down five things you are thankful for each day – it helps!
Research shows that writing down your feelings helps anxious thoughts and feelings. If you are interested in trying this, check out these journal prompts to help tackle anxiety:
Also know that journaling does not have to be writing! It can be coloring too! Here is a free coloring page – once you are done, glue it in your journal!
Click here for free coloring page!: Love is . . . coloring page
4. Pray the Rosary
. . . and tell Our Lady of the Rosary your intention of being free from anxiety.
For best results, pray the Rosary out loud.
It may feel funny if you are alone – but the sounds of the prayers are important in the meditation process. Any type of meditation relieves stress. Science proves this fact. The Rosary is a meditation, but it is also an incredibly powerful prayer. Our Lady promises that:
“you shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary”
One of my “spiritual heroes” Immaculee Ilibagiza talks about praying the Rosary out loud in her book Led by Faith. I remember her saying that is the best way to say it. In her book, The Rosary: The Prayer That Saved My Life, Immaculee states in the introduction:
In this book, I want to share with you how praying the rosary saved my life during three months when fear and despair were my constant companions and worst enemies as killers hunted me, thoughts of suicide plagued me, and the devil whispered in my ear.
Whether we are battling anxiety in our everyday life, or facing a cross on the scale of death, the Rosary will help you. I can’t imagine living through what Immaculee lived through. My own life has benefited from the Rosary, but I feel her experience holds much more weight.
If it is possible, say the Rosary with a group or at least one other person. There are often groups who gather in parish churches to pray the Rosary. Find out when that is and make it a point to join them.
Saying the Rosary with one or more people is even more powerful. St. Louis de Montfort writes:
One who says his Rosary alone only gains the merit of that one Rosary. But if he says it together with others, he gains the merit of each Rosary. This is the law of public prayer.
5. Listen to your self-talk
When my anxiety crossed into depression, what got me there was my “self-talk”. I wouldn’t dare blame God or be mad at Him . . . so instead I led a full fledge blame fest on myself.
I should have done this
I should have been better a better girlfriend
I messed up so much I deserve this
It’s all my fault; I’m a hopeless case
God gave me a good man and I didn’t appreciate him enough
The list went on and on. I looked back, beat myself up, and offered myself no mercy.
I “should” all over myself.
It wasn’t until many years later, that I read this quote. I wished my heart had heard it much earlier:
Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
I had created my own hell. I looked back every day.
God wants us to know that no matter what is in the past, He and His Love will provide for us. His plan will triumph. Nothing we do is going to change the power of the Holy Spirit.
How many times does God command us to “be not afraid” in the Bible? I’ve heard one time for every day. It is said over and over again.
Saints have repeatedly reminded us to only think about the present.
Listen to your self-talk. Make it a point to line it up with Our Lord.
He does not rejoice in us beating ourselves up.
We must take a leap of faith and TRUST HIM. He will give us hope.
In the meantime, let us only take a breath, and thank God for that very breath.
The Lord’s voice speaks only in terms of Mercy, Hope and Love.
Does your “self-talk” speak in those terms?
If the answer is no, those thoughts are not from above. Listen to the Lord’s voice and repeat His words in your own “self-talk”.
How do you rise above anxiety? What advice has helped you the most?