There was a time in my life when anxiety ruled me. I woke up every day with a sense of dread instead of hope.
To me, the world was a scary place. Rather than anything in particular, I feared life in general.
I would drag myself out of bed, knowing I faced a day filled with fear. Each morning brought with it the mere will to survive. Until one day even that will left me.
If you had inquired about my well-being in the middle of this despair, I would have smiled and said, “Great, how about you?” because of my terror over facing my feelings.
I had refused to stand up for myself or express emotional needs, and the consequences of my self-abandonment had taken their toll.
Thankfully, a well-timed Oprah episode on suicide survivors prompted me to keep going.
Now I know that God had sent me that love message in the form of a talk show. But at the time I didn’t know God. I believe that fact had everything to do with my anxiety.
I’ve overcome my anxiety with God’s help. But in the culture at large, anxiety is at record highs. Here are three reasons why I believe this is so.
1. Disconnection from God
As the world becomes increasingly secular, people are told to believe in themselves rather than a higher power.
This puts a tremendous onus on them that they were never meant to bear.
Rather than taking problems to God in prayer, mere humans are expected to act as their own saviors.
The pressure to be God in your own life is too much and creates natural feelings of fear and unease.The pressure to be God in your own life is too much and creates natural feelings of fear and unease. Click To Tweet
The lie that we are not living in a fallen world forces people to pretend.
That’s called cognitive dissonance. It’s a break between what you know to be true and how you behave.
2. The rise of technology
The constant ding of notifications and text messages are enough to make anyone feel twitchy.
The expectation of constant availability both for work and relationships creates tension in our minds.We feel compelled to answer people right away. We live in a constant state of reaction. Click To Tweet
We feel compelled to answer people right away. We live in a constant state of reaction.
Nonstop interruptions make it difficult to enjoy the wonderful feeling of getting lost in a task.
Studies show how technology has changed the way our brains work, and it’s not pretty.
We have reduced attention spans. We fear missing out if we log off for too long. We are less able to to stay in the moment.
3. Worry over a future we can’t control
Jesus said, ” Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
This is where we get the saying One Day at a Time. 12-step programs use this phrase as the central tenet of recovery.
If you stay inside the day, you can handle anything, including the cravings of an addiction.
As soon as we focus on the past or future, mild panic sets in. These can trigger unhealthy coping mechanisms which are nothing more than a replacement for God. An idol.
Regrets over a past that cannot be changed get our minds in chaos. Then, thinking about an uncertain future leads to scary thoughts.
As long as you keep your thoughts focused on today, anything seems possible. It is a sanity saver.
Planning vs. worry
Planning for the future is different than worrying about what’s to come. Let’s say you’re getting ready for a move.
You won’t simply refuse to think about moving day because it’s not today. However, responsible planning for a smooth move is very different than stressing over everything that could go wrong.
Worry sets in when you think about all the things you have to do at once. They run around in your head and tumble over each other and none of them gets done.
Anxiety results from ruminating over future tasks rather than taking steps today to accomplish them.What will I do today that will move me closer to my goals? Click To Tweet
That’s why taking things one day at a time keeps you on an even keel. What will I do today that will move me closer to my goals?