5 self-care tips to combat anxiety

Hi friends,

I hope that you are well. And I hope that your year is starting well. Can you believe that the first month of the year is practically over? This year is moving quickly. I’m coming to you today to address something that many of us have experienced at one point or another. It creeps up out of nowhere and rears its ugly head, oftentimes leaving us in tears, feeling frazzled and scared. This monster is called anxiety.

In the last year of my life, I have had to battle anxiety linked to stress. As someone who can only remember one anxiety attack in the first 25+ years of life, this was something that confused me. However, I was fortunate to quickly find some self-care tips that have helped me tremendously. Scroll down to learn more.

Write scriptures & affirmations

I was home one weekend back in December on the phone with my fiancé and I felt my anxiety try to pull a surprise attack. I let him know what was happening and decided to get off the phone. I felt tears coming and did not fight them, while quickly pulling out my journal and Bible. I began to write down every scripture I could find about peace and mental health. Although my journal was soaked with tears, I quickly realized that which every scripture I wrote, I felt the weight lifting. In total, I jotted down around seven scriptures before I felt calm. In that moment, the power of God’s word was more real to me than ever. I went on with my day, which meant going to church where I was able to worship God. This worship was a soothing balm to my weary mind just when I needed it. There are several websites that make compilations of these scriptures if you find yourself wanting to read or write them as well.

Pray out loud

Another great strategy I have is praying audibly. This has been especially helpful for me when I have been feeling anxious while driving in the car. Heavy traffic and long commutes are so bad for me. I learned this in the car one day after work, while driving to go handle something for my wedding that had to be done by 6 pm. I was driving for over an hour when I finally began to cry. I had a lot on my mind and I finally started to feel it. I turned off the radio and began praying to God for relief of these feelings. I reminded God what His word said about keeping me in perfect peace. I thanked Him for his ability to do this and for the sound mind He had given me and I thanked Him for being my safe place. The longer I prayed, the less anxiety I felt. After a few minutes, I was back to normal.

Take an hour long, uninterrupted bath

As someone who has always found joy in doing something productive, the last few years have been about learning to relax. My roommate still tells me that I don’t know how to rest. Even when I don’t feel well, I find myself reading, watching something educational, etc. However, I have learned that relaxing helps to keep my anxiety at bay. One of my favorite ways to relax is to simply take a hot bath for an hour. This means phone off, light music, essential oils and dim light. There’s nothing significant about the amount of time, except the fact that it is my time and no one else’s. This bath always leaves me feeling refreshed physically, mentally and emotionally.

Set strict “no work” hours

I am a recovering workaholic. I have been in my job at ungodly hours consumed in work. And for someone like me, this is easy because I love to work. However, I’ve learned that too much work creates real issues. I have always subscribed to the idea of the Sabbath, because God rested for 24 hours on day 7 while creating the Earth. If it’s good enough for Him, it is good enough for me. But I’ve realized that just resting during Sabbath hours is just the minimum. In order to keep my anxiety low, I need to leave work at a decent hour daily, go home and do something for me. This could be sitting down and eating a healthy dinner, exercising, watching a show I like, reading a chapter in a book, reading my Bible, listening to a podcast or talking on the phone. It doesn’t matter what I do. What matters is that I do not give my entire day to someone else’s dream. I matter more.

Talk to someone you trust

Everyone should have a safe place to take their thoughts and feelings. Humans are likened to a steaming pot that has a lid on it. If the lid is not lifted, it will explode from the pressure. When I felt myself under pressure, I was blessed to have people who encouraged me to get help. With the encouragement of my fiancé, my sister and a counselor friend of mine (Love you, Courtney!), I saw a therapist for the first time in October. My therapist has been the single best investment I have made into myself in a very long time. She has taught me to give myself credit for things, to look at situations differently and that my feelings about certain situations are valid. She has also helped me to not cripple those around me by pouring all of my feelings into them. My family and friends love me deeply, but they are not trained to handle any of the problems I was having. It would have likely hurt them to help me. Many of us walk around with wounds that we don’t even know we have until they are discovered by someone who has been trained to help heal us. Forget about what other people may think and do what will help you live an abundant life. If you have ever considered talking to a therapist, I would highly recommend doing it.

If anxiety has found its way into your life, it doesn’t have to stay there. Give these tips a try and let me know in the Comments if they are of any value to you.

Until next time,

Brittany

Bring Back Our Girls Prayer Call

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. – Luke 4:18-19 KJV

Good morning, friends.

Few things disturb me like kidnapping. Someone who doesn’t know you comes into an area where you feel safe and steals your dreams,  sense of security, and whatever else they want from you. How frightening to think that we live in a world where this can happen. And not only can it happen, but it can happen to hundreds of people at a time. This was the case in Borno State, Nigeria. Over 200 girls taking exams at school, probably very nervous about them yet excited about being finished. Then, a group of armed men comes in to abduct them, forcing them to leave. Some of the girls escaped, but most didn’t. Many have likely been married to men older than them that they do not know. The group that has stolen them has said that they will sell them. It’s deplorable, disgusting and scary. This is something that these girls will never forget. In situations like this, I am reminded that Jesus is a champion of freedom. The evil one comes to kill, steal and destroy, but our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is one who restores, redeems, rescues and sets captives free. Although this situation is bleak, it is not without hope. At 9PM EST, I will be holding a prayer call to pray for the safe return of the girls. There will be several prayer foci tonight and people from many places joining us on the line.

Tonight’s Prayer Foci 

Safe return of the girls
Safety of those trying to rescue them
Peace for the families
Protection for the girls as they are captives
That people would come to know Christ through this situation
Restoration of peace in Borno state and other areas of northeastern Nigeria
For the end of sex and human trafficking

If you would like to stand with us in agreement for the safe return of the girls, please call in. I have seen the power of prayer in my own life, and more than anything, I want to see God turn the ashes of this situation into beauty. To enter the prayer line, simply dial 530-881-1300 and enter access code 121413#. If you are outside of the US, check out Free Conferencing’s website for details about how you can join in.

Brittany

I Am Not Trayvon Martin

I Am Not Trayvon Martin

What a powerful statement from someone who understands that you don’t have to identify with a victim to identify injustice. Today, I’m praying for the families involved in this tragedy, all who posses hate in their hearts and for victims of injustice. People need God and I’m praying that I can be one to help others find Him.

Pray Church part 1 – Pastor Myron Edmonds

sermonPray Church part 1 – Pastor Myron Edmonds

This is one of the best sermons on prayer that I’ve heard in a while. It’s a practical message on why we need to be intentional about prayer. Pastor Myron Edmonds of Glenville SDA Church in Cleveland, Ohio plows through the book of Acts to explore the idea that miracles happen when prayer is present. Excellent message!

When God Takes Away…

 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said:

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ – Job 1:20-21 NKJV

If you live long enough, there will be a point where God takes away something that you really love and enjoy. This could be a job, a position, a relationship, a dream or even a long time friendship. Just the thought of this can be scary, but there is no way around it. Regardless of how much you love God, things you don’t like will happen. And when loss occurs, it is very easy to become confused and sad.

I can talk about this because I was in this place just over a year ago. I was 22, one year away from college graduation, in what I thought would be my last relationship ever and loving life. But shortly after the one year point, God revealed to us that He wanted our relationship to end. When it happened, I was quietly devastated. I had never experienced being so attached to something and then having it removed from under me. But now that I look back at the situation, I realize that God was working in every single detail.

I want to share some of what I learned from my experience with loss and how to make it through that season.

1. God is sovereign. If He allowed it, there is a great reason for it.

Trusting God is not always easy. It can be downright painful. Seeing something that you loved leave is hard, but there is a point that we have to get to as believers where we decide to trust Him regardless of how we feel. Your faith in God’s plan for you cannot be controlled by your emotions. If it is, you’ll be fickle and you’ll never stand firm. We have to understand that if God allows something to happen, He knew that you could handle it. Nothing that happens to us catches Him off guard, so you have to know that you know that you know that you know that He will help you through it, that He is good and that He is for you.

2. It may not have aligned with His purpose for your life.

There are some ventures and undertakings that we jump into that may benefit us for a time, but that may not align with God’s long-term purpose and vision for our lives. We get comfortable in places when God is trying to move us to where He needs us to be. Maybe God removed it because it wouldn’t have allowed you to reach your fullest potential for Him.

3. He may be saving your from future issues or hurt.

Anytime I think about loss, I remember a testimony a church member shared once. He was serving in the military in Kuwait, and he had been praying that he would be able to return to his family soon. When the day for his scheduled return came, his officers pushed it back and told him that he wouldn’t be leaving yet. He was sad and really disappointed that he wouldn’t be back home when he thought he would be. But shortly thereafter, he was awakened with news that the plane that he wanted to be on had gone down and that people had lost their lives. Sometimes, God is literally blocking issues, pain, hurt or further loss from us by saying “no” right now.

4. He may be removing an idol from you to get closer to you.

I have learned a lot about idols through this experience, so much so that I blogged about it. I’ve realized that God hates them. He will smash them into a billion pieces if you place them where He should be. When I look back, I realize that I had placed the relationship on the altar of my praise, where God should have been. I spent most of my free time with the guy and made no personal time for loving God. The time that I had prior to the relationship quickly vanished. Although I would have said that I was living for God and many people regarded me as an outspoken Christian, God was not the object of my affections. I would have never said that I worshiped my relationship, but my actions said it for me. God is a jealous God. He will not allow us to hold onto those things that keep us from Him, because He loves us that much.

And through all of this, there is hope…

If this speaks to something that you have gone through or if you are currently going through it now, there is hope for you. My best friend Jeida shared something so great with me once. She said, “when we experience loss, we have a choice to make. We can either fill the hole that it left with more things (friends, people, stuff, etc), or we can choose to fill it with Jesus.” When I had to make this choice, I was blessed to have a God-loving friend by my side to help me make the right decision. It was during this time that Jeida would spend hours on the phone with me talking about Jesus, picking me up to go to church and small group Bible studies with her, and she would pray for me when I became sad. Her presence in my life was instrumental to my healing process. That brings me to my first piece of advice for those who are dealing with loss…

1. Surround yourself with a community of God-loving, praying, compassionate and transparent people…

God never meant for us to struggle through issues alone. Galatians 6:2 NKJV says, Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” God created us to be relational people who thrive when in community. We need each other. When you suffer loss, reach out to 2 or 3 people that you can trust who will pour into you, keep your eyes stayed on Christ and just love you sacrificially. The healing process starts when you share what you’re going through. Holding things in doesn’t help. Don’t let pride or shame keep you from getting the support you need. If no one comes to mind, pray and ask God to show you who can support you. If you still have no one, please message me and I will personally pray with you. I mean this.

2. Don’t be ashamed of yourself for crying or feeling down.

Healing from loss usually doesn’t happen overnight. You will experience a wide range of emotions and feelings, but if you give those feelings to God, in time you will be okay. Know that crying or having bad feelings doesn’t mean you don’t trust God, it just means that He is still making you new.

3. Pray, read the word and journal like a madwoman (or madman) and declare God’s promises daily.

Like Jeida said, when you have a void in your life, you have to fill it with something. If you fill it with the knowledge of the love of Christ, His promises, grace, mercy and everything else that is Him, you will receive joy and peace. I poured out my heart to God through prayer and writing in my journal everyday. Some days, I wrote through tears, but I felt relieved as I shared these feelings with my journal and even now when I look back on them, I can see where God has brought me from. What a beautiful sight. Also, declare the promises of God every time you get a chance. When I was going through my toughest days, I repeated certain scriptures and reminders daily. Some of my favorites were:

God is working everything out for my good and for His glory. (this became my motto)

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory;
no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. – Psalm 84:11 NKJV

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18 NIV

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1 NIV

 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. – Galatians 6:9 KJV

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. – Isaiah 26:3 NKJV

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 NIV

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39 ESV

Write these on your mirrors, put them on flash cards, hang them up around your room or do whatever you have to do to be reminded constantly of God’s truth concerning you.

4. Don’t jump into anything else to keep yourself distracted or try to open a door that God has closed.

A huge mistake that many people make, especially after a relationship ends, is jumping into another one to fill that void. They find another person to consume their time, share their broken heart with and try to find solace there. This is so dangerous, both for them and the person whose heart they are involving. After loss, healing must take place. If we pursue another relationship before God’s appointed time, we risk further damaging ourselves and hurting another person. Love protects and it preserves. Do not bring someone else into your life until you are emotionally available and God leads you to do so. Lastly, don’t try to open a door that God closed even if you don’t understand why He did it. Obedience doesn’t require explanations or understanding. In His time, He will reveal things to you and you will be thankful that you obeyed Him. Obedience wins.

5. Renew your mind daily. (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23)

There will be days that you wake up with the memory of what is now gone. It can consume your thoughts, but if you can daily submit your thoughts and your mind to God, you can keep those thoughts at bay and keep your mind stayed on Him. Renew your mind daily with the knowledge of Christ.

More than anything else, keep in mind that God’s love for you is unending. His goal is not to hurt you; it is to save you. Your happiness matters to Him but your salvation and growth matter more. And just like Job, God may take something away, but He will always make it worth your while. This doesn’t always mean that you get a better home or job, but it may just mean that He connects with you deeper. God didn’t give me a new relationship, but I have been brought into a deeper place with Him. He gave me more of what I needed to grow and if loss is what it took to get here, I’d go through it all again.

I pray that this blesses you!

Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning… – Job 42:12 NKJV

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