Anxiety is an enigmatic stressor, that generalises fear, creating no path back to its source. And because it’s so pervasive in many of our lives it wreaks compound havoc.
If there is a mental ill more prevalent than depression it must be anxiety. None of us is out of anxiety’s reach, and once we’ve experienced a panic attack, despite learning coping measures to prevent and control them, we’re shocked by both their ever-present immanence and debilitating power.
Additionally, for Christians at least, anxiety is one chief way the enemy, Satan, can disrupt our lives at source.
But here are five ways of intentionality that can help. By intentionality I mean, through awareness and decision all anxiety can be reduced.
1. Humour – nothing disarms or diffuses anxiety better than humour. Is there any coincidence that some of our best comedians have been racked with mental illness that needed some absurd outlet? Humour helps them and us cope. It lightens the load, whereas seriousness bogs us down in convolutions of fatigue.
2. Joy – finding something to be thankful for, gratitude breeds joy, and anxiety is brought to null within cognitions that instant. The emotions may lag, but thoughts are given flight for hope. Intentional joy is something that can be practiced. Joy is possible within many circumstances we find opposing. God shows us He is present when we experience the joys of choice when our circumstances are despairing. Why? Because we can. It is possible.
3. Calm – perhaps the hardest thing ever to do when we’re extremely anxious is to be calm, but our efforts are rewarded in the learning, by applying a deliberate slowdown in our mental, emotional and spiritual energies to reduce their proclivities and sensitivities. Calmness comes with a cost, however, and what we need to be prepared to sacrifice is achievement.
4. Perspective – reminding ourselves of our due position, from the viewpoint of objective others, can assist. Ours is not the best life, just as it’s not the worst. Life is life, and anxiety isn’t the end of it.
5. Rest – when all else fails, we look forward to our rest, and there’s no better rest than sleep. This doesn’t account for insomnia, which is something many are thwarted by. But if we can plan to fall asleep exhausted, if that’s possible in the timing, rest is an appropriate escape from the trials of anxiety. Again, rest must become the intention.
All these strategies, as I’ve mentioned, need to be considered with great intentionality.
These strategies are not unconditional winners, for anxiety is enshrined in the human condition, and much anxiety is inescapable.
Anxiety. Makes us doubt, and pushes, our sanity. Sufferers ought to be accepted and understood and forgiven for the states that anxiety reduces them to. It is a darkness descending that hovers as a cloud over the hopes of the day.
Anxiety, like all mental illness, however, calls for a response of intention; to try something different in the coping.