By Rob Furlong
Last month we began looking at ways of dealing with anxiety or helping support someone through it. Let’s consider some more helpful principles:
Music: It has been shown repeatedly that music has the power to alter the patterns of our brains as well as enhancing our ability to experience rest, serenity and peace.
During one particularly difficult time in my life I found myself returning to many of the old hymns I had sung in worship services at church as a young man. Listening to them just before going to sleep at night became a great source of comfort and helped me to cope with the panic attacks I was experiencing at the time.
A piece of advice – select the music you listen to carefully. I would suggest that full on “head-banging rock and roll” is not likely to decrease your stress levels but rather, increase them!
Rest: Christian psychologist, Arch Hart has written extensively on the importance of regular rest as an important means of dealing with anxiety. (I recommend reading his books: The Anxiety Cure and Adrenaline and Stress.) As he succinctly states, “we live our lives at a high octane pace but our bodies are built for camel pace.”
In other words, we need regular times where we take a break from our work and super-charged lives. This is an extremely counter-cultural concept but incredibly needed in today’s world.
It has become my practice to take what I call a weekly Sabbath where I spend 24 hours away from my work – I do not read my emails or deal with work related issues unless it is an absolute emergency. I also try to take regular holidays and I am grateful to Karen who keeps me accountable with this!
I am beginning to try and incorporate “mini-Sabbaths” into my day as well. For example, not looking at Facebook first thing in the morning, disciplining my exposure to social media and even turning the news off from time to time. I find it to be an excellent way to disconnect from the constant flow of information we are bombarded with and it also gives my mind a much needed rest.
Sitting quietly on the bench at the front of our house for 30 minutes from time to time, just watching the world go by, is also becoming a source of healing and refreshment for me.
Cultivate the habit of realistic optimism: There is no doubt that a positive or optimistic outlook assists us in coping with the worries and cares of life. But this does not mean that you deny reality. Genuine optimism is not afraid of the truth – it embraces it – and it is also able to rest in another great truth: that God really does “work all things for the good of those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28).
Arch Hart says that “once we appreciate life for what it really is, we discover a new thrill in being alive.”
Through personal experience I have discovered the above principles, diligently applied by me and with God’s help, to be life changing, especially in recent times.
In fact, I was asked just a little while back if it is possible to really know God’s peace and my answer was unequivocal – “Yes, for I have found it to be true in my own life.”
This is where faith comes in.
Arch Hart has said: “Faith (in God) will seek the right solution. Faith is our helper and healer because it puts us and keeps us in touch with God.”
When we diligently apply the principles God gives us, with faith in Him, He will do what He has promised to do!
My sincere prayer for all of you reading this is that as you apply these principles in your own life, you will come to know the help and healing of God and above all, His peace, which starts with surrendering your life fully to Him.
More strategies for dealing with anxiety
By Rob Furlong