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Battle Plan: Overcoming Anxiety

Updated: Aug 20, 2022

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BEFORE YOU BEGIN...


Welcome to Battle's & Bridges! In life, there are battles to fight, and bridges to walk across. We believe God wants you to live with freedom and purpose. We want to help you do just that by sharing thoughts and strategies to overcome life's challenges through the power of the Gospel.


Each Battle Plan has five parts:


We encourage you to read this slowly and keep coming back to it as many times as you need to. Feel free to share the post with others that may benefit from this.


Feeling like it's only you? Take the poll to get started!


Take the Poll: Do you battle with anxiety?

  • Hardly ever.

  • Sometimes, but it seems in proportion to the situation.

  • More than I would like to. It bothers me.

  • All the time! It is debilitating...


 

BACKGROUND


Anxiety, a derivative of the Latin word that means to choke, is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. It, like fear, is a natural emotion designed by God. However, living with constant anxiety or with a spirit of fear is not from God. More than half of us have way more anxiety than we want. That includes the quarter of us that have one of the seven anxiety disorders (GAD, Agoraphobia, Social Phobia, Specific Phobias, OCD, PSTD, and Panic Disorder). The stats have and continue to climb. Here is a short explainer video if you would like to learn a bit more.


In some cases, a professional diagnosis may be required. In many scenarios, using a tool like the emotions wheel can help you identify and specifically name what you are feeling so that you can start to deal with it. By the way, “good” and “bad” are not valid emotional descriptions.

We get anxious when our SIGNIFICANCE is threatened, our SECURITY is threatened, or when we are STRIVING to meet some standard.


Not all worry is negative. Sometimes it prompts positive action. Rather, it is the prolonged, distracting, fretting, paralyzing type of worry that is unhelpful.


Negative worry frets: I can’t stop worrying about my kids being bullied.

Positive worry focuses: I’m concerned about bullying so I am taking steps to help them navigate this.


Anxiety is not just unhelpful, it's harmful. It ambushes purpose, blocks creativity, distracts, and steals the joy out of life. Prolonged anxiety can lead to panic attacks (which typically occur when the body can no longer sustain the "fight or flight" mode).


Experiencing the effects of anxiety on a frequent, chronic basis doesn’t do you any good.


Here are some things that don't work in the long term:

  • Fighting in your own strength (striving)

  • Avoidance

  • Internet quick fixes

  • Looking for reassurance (it's OK, everyone has this struggle)

  • Using substances like drugs/alcohol to feel better

  • Relying on medication as a sole solution

  • Exhaustive grumbling

  • Saying "Calm down!"



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BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE


What does Jesus say about all of this? He says that there is a cure for anxiety that works! See Luke 12:22-32.


Note 1: Jesus is talking to his disciples here. It is key to note that the first step in overcoming anxiety is to trust in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, so that you may receive his mercy, forgiveness, righteousness, and new life, and thus fight this battle from his victory. The bridge of salvation is the first thing to walk across.


Note 2: It is important to note that this teaching is bookended by verses about money and possessions - the root of much of our anxiety!


This is way more than a Hakuna Matata passage! In short: worry and anxiety are essentially distrust of God. Worry is banished when God becomes the supreme focus of our lives. In this passage, Jesus addresses the things that make us anxious: SIGNIFICANCE. SECURITY. STRIVING.


Truth: God sees you as significant. You are unconditionally loved.

Application: Say - or declare - (to) yourself the way that God sees you.

Truth: God invites you to stand upon His security. He gives life and provides all that you need to sustain that life. Also, he is already in the future that you are worried about.

Application: Surrender your will & stand on his Word


Truth: God delights to give you the Kingdom. No striving is needed. The Kingdom is less of a place and more of where God reigns. It is righteous, peace, and joy, and his reign (will) is good, pleasing, and perfect.

Application: Seek his kingdom! To be in the Kingdom and do God's will are the same.


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BATTLEGROUND


From the Bible, we see that there are three things that are always opposed to the Kingdom of God and the will of God


I. The FLESHLY NATURE (1 Peter 2:11) This is where we battle temptation and rationalization


Look out for: desires to control every situation and unhealthy coping mechanisms like self-medicating with substances, food or escapism, like binge-watching TV to feel better.


II. The DOMAIN OF DARKNESS (2 Corinthians 4:4) The enemy works by deception (lies) and destruction (of your purpose)


Look out for: believing lies about who God really is, His promises to you, and thoughts that possessions, finances and status will bring fulfilment.


III. The WORLD SYSTEM (James 4:4) The environment and culture we are in. It is the place of desensitization and relaxation (dropping your guard).


Look out for: falling into the overwhelm of the always connected, always reachable, always busy, always rushing, always have to do more culture. High-stress environments and unhealthy coping mechanisms are good friends.


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BATTLE PLAN


Coming to faith in Jesus, trusting him, being willing to radically reorganise your life around him, constantly surrendering to his good, pleasing and perfect will and believing His Word (promises) is the foundation on which this stands.


Assuming that you have found salvation in Jesus, and want to find greater freedom from anxiety, here are some thoughts to share and practical steps you can take as a starting point, and then specifically in emotional, mental, physical and spiritual areas.



Start Here

  • Admit that you are battling anxiety and that you have a desire to change

  • Begin to believe the promises of God - You have the peace of God surrounding you and the God of peace within you (Phil 4:6-7)

  • Commit to the process by involving someone you trust to encourage you and keep you accountable in this journey.

  • Decide to focus/concentrate on the Kingdom of God. That means to concentrate on the doing of, and the acceptance of, God's will. This is the key way to defeat worry.

  • Examine what it is, exactly, that is making you anxious.

  • Is my anxiety tied to recent events or did it originate from some specific situation in the past?

  • Is the object or occasion of my anxiety a true threat or just a perceived threat?

  • Is my anxiety coming from certain places, people, or things that remind me of possible negative consequences?

  • Is my present anxiety-based mentality persisting even though the relationship or lifestyle or occurrence in which it is rooted no longer exists?

  • Is the worry/anxiety I am experiencing a result of faking it for so long as a means of manipulating people that it has now become real to me?

  • Ask four or five "whys" to uncover the lie.

  • Focus on the long game - one step at a time, one day at a time. Don't try to do everything at once!

Emotional Plan

  • Journal about your experiences/anxieties so that you can examine them and start to identify triggers to get to the root cause.

  • Be quick to forgive (both toward yourself and others).

  • Deepen your friendship with others, having someone close to you to that you can be vulnerable with is vital.

  • Cultivate gratitude for what God has given you.

  • Say (to) yourself how God sees you - research has shown that there is power in positive affirmation. There is even more power when you use the Word to affirm yourself. It may seem silly to tell yourself in the mirror that you are unconditionally loved by God, but over time, this will become a foundational truth for you!

Physical Plan

  • Exercise regularly.

  • Eat well and pre-plan for healthy snacks - look out for those urges to feel better through food and substances.

  • Get enough sleep - lack of sleep makes everything seem worse.

  • Spend time outdoors regularly, doing something you enjoy. That could simply be going for a walk or sitting in the garden reading a book.

  • Practise breathing exercises.

Mental Plan

  • Set clear goals, and tackle them one at a time. A coach or mentor can help keep you focused. Input goals may be wiser as they are less daunting. Output goals can lead to overwhelm. For example, an input goal is "I will read for 10mins a day". An output goal is"I will read 100 books this year". An input goal is “I will exercise three times a week. An output goal is I will lose 5kgs by December.

  • Take a moment, daily, for reflection.

  • Read books or commit to learning something new.

  • Ruthlessly eliminate unnecessary stressors and demands from your life. These are the overwhelming standards, to-do lists and expectations we feel we have to strive to meet. Don’t believe that you are powerless to eliminate these! Another way to put this - set healthy boundaries.

  • Volunteer to help or serve others - anxiety dissipates in the service of someone else.

  • Focus on living in the present, not in the past or future.

Spiritual Plan

  • Recognize God’s presence in your life through daily reflection.

  • Be expectant for God to change you as you yield to him (Phil 1:6).

  • Cultivate contentment with prayer. “Lord, I want to ____, but if I don’t, I am willing to learn contentment.

  • Practise surrender with prayer: "Lord, instead of becoming anxious about_____ I choose to trust You with my future.”

  • Spend time in worship. If you need a playlist you can find one on our homepage.

  • Embed the word of God in your heart, so that you can stand securly on His word. Read the Bible slowly, and out loud!


Scriptures to Meditate On


Recommended Reading


100 Days to Freedom from Fear and Anxiety: Daily Devotional

(also available on Scribd)


Closing Tho