6 Christian Tips For Overcoming Anxiety Or Panic Attacks
Here are six Christian tips for overcoming anxiety or panic attacks.
I think it’s very important to not try to use these tips as a replacement for seeking medical help if you need it. There may be more than an emotional cause; it could be a physical cause like a simple brain chemical imbalance that could be prompting someone’s anxiety or panic attacks. Many of these disorders are treatable. This article is not designed to replace any medical help or advice that you might receive and I certainly don’t want anyone taking anxiety or panic attacks casually. There could be underlying medical issues that you don’t even know about but the good news, anxiety and panic attacks can be manageable. Don’t be afraid to seek help. It’s not a character weakness and it’s not a lack of faith. It may well have a physical cause to it. If someone broke their arm, they wouldn’t give a second thought about going to the hospital to have it set. I doubt very much they’d think it’s a character weakness or a lack of faith to go the hospital.
Simply your Life
How about doing what I did not long ago. I started keeping a “to do” list and started to unclutter my life. If it wasn’t being used, I tossed it, gave it away, or recycled it. I had to learn how to say “No” because I had too many demands by too many people to be in too many places (and once, even two different places at the same time!). You can reduce the risk for forest fire by clearing away the underbrush. In like manner, if we unclutter or simply our life, we can help reduce a lot of stress. Stress can lead to anxiety and anxiety can lead to panic attacks.
Learn the Triggers
Being proactive is better than being reactive. To be prepared to face a panic attack is better than being blindsided by one. What are the triggers? What things are the greatest causes of anxiety or panic attacks? If you can identify the triggers, then you can be more prepared going into whatever typically causes panic attacks. I think it’s normal for people to have anxiety. Over 365 times in the Bible Jesus used phrases like “fear not” or “do not be worried” so there’s at least “fear not” for every day of the year. Jesus was also Man and as Creator, He is perfectly acquainted with our weaknesses. He knows it might be a personal fear of failure, a great financial failure or collapse, fear of the unknown, fear of the known, a fear of a salvation that’s been lost, or a fear of death. The good news is that God will give us grace for today but not enough for tomorrow.
Being your best Resource
You can be your own best resource by talking to yourself or by memorizing Scripture and then recalling it and saying what the psalmist sang “I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:2). In fact, read and memorize part of Psalm 91 because it is written for someone who was living in very dangerous times; just like today! Why not say to yourself “God is my refuge and fortress” and “in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me” (Psalm 56:4)? When you feel anxiety building or panic attacks coming on you can recall these Bible verses or say to yourself, “Okay, it's a good chance to practice my coping techniques” and try to recall some strong Bible verses about the security in Christ (Rom 8:31-39). Paul never said “I can do all things if I just put my mind to it” but rather, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13).
This sound very odd at first but the fact is that if you can physically slow down your breathing, you’ll slow down the release of stress hormones. Some call it “belly breathing” where the person intentionally tries to extend the belly when breathing in. The medical term for it is diaphragmatic breathing. This “belly breathing” prevents hyperventilation and getting light headed or dizzy and slowing down the breathing causes the brain to send “slow down” signals to the body’s immune system. Beyond that, I am not exactly sure how it works but it does work for many who regularly deal with anxiety and/or panic attacks.
Attack the Trigger
In an earlier paragraph, I mentioned that one way to deal with anxiety or panic attacks is to learn the triggers. Most people who deal with anxiety or panic attacks already know what that is. Here is an idea. Try attacking the trigger. For example, do you have panic attacks that come from being in a crowded elevator (a lot of people do)? Try desensitizing yourself by intentionally taking a full elevator and not waiting for an empty one. Take the triggers head on, if it is possible, and you might find that the more you do something, the less sensitive you become from doing it. Naturally, if it is not recommended that you attack a certain trigger, by all means listen to your doctor.
Christians are not immune to times of anxiety or panic attacks. We too are fallen creatures that live as a result of the fall and our bodies are part of that fall. Some believe the tendencies for someone to have bouts of anxiety and panic attacks are in their genes or it’s inherited. Some believe it’s the “triggers” that they have in common where they were raised. Some have discovered it is a simple brain chemical imbalance or hormone imbalance and that it can be treated. By all means, consult with a doctor if you have anxiety or panic attacks that disrupt your life so much that it becomes unmanageable.
Article by Pastor Jack Wellman