Do you know what anxiety is? How would you define it? I’ll admit I hadn’t really stopped to examine it until recently.
In this post, I hope to explain how anxiety in your life indicates sure fire reasons for alarm. At the same time, I expect you’ll find it reassuring. I understand that sounds a bit contradictory, but please, read on!
Quick disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. I have no clinical expertise. When I refer to anxiety, I am talking about symptoms common to most of us when we feel anxious.
Anxiety – what is it?
I read a book called Redefining Anxiety, by Dr. John Delony. It was eye-opening for me, and I’d recommend it for anyone. In that book, Dr. Delony described anxiety as an alarm system in the body.
He had a great analogy, I thought. He wondered if I/we/you would hear a fire alarm and spend our time and effort to shut it off? Or would we immediately run to find and fight the fire?
Anxiety is a symptom, not a cause.
How I, and likely you, typically respond to anxiety is to relieve it however we can. We do breathing exercises, turn to coping mechanisms (praying, eating, napping, exercising, etc.), and self-medication. We consider ourselves successful when we’ve quieted the anxiety.
But anxiety is a symptom, not a cause. If it indicates we have stressors burning somewhere inside us, silencing its alert only allows the real issues to rage unchecked. The alarms will soon sound again with increasing urgency.
In a recent feature piece, Dr. Delony introduced another relevant phrase, “High-Functioning Anxiety”. You can access that article here. I think many of us have become accustomed to the deafening ring of this alarm.
High-functioning anxiety, as Dr. Delony presents it, describes the phenomenon where someone is successfully living their life while experiencing consistent symptoms. They can be loving spouses, great parents, responsible employees, and community servants. Their anxiety is not debilitating, yet they struggle to set boundaries, don’t sleep well, worry constantly, and (this one caught my attention) often feel their hearts race.
Although it feels burdensome, anxiety is a gift. It tells us we’re in a precarious place and must take action quick. The last thing we should do is suppress our alarms and go back to business as usual.
Anxiety – what to do about it?
If we fail to address the stress causing our anxiety, the alarms escalate in fervency. To continue the analogy, our lives fill with smoke. We might find ourselves struggling to breathe, impatient, making rash decisions, desperate, or worse.
Identify the cause(s) of your anxiety
Are you anxious today? It may be time for introspection. Can you identify some core problems? How can you put those issues to rest?
God knows you inside and out. Enlist His help. Ask Him to show you where the fires are and then surrender them to Him. He has the expertise and the tools to put them out.
Anxiety as an opportunity
My friend, let me encourage you to fight your fires. You may find forgiveness, a conversation, apology, or some other thing you can accomplish will put those flames down.
Or you may need to seek trained help to get there. Just don’t put it off any longer. As Dr. Delony says, “You deserve to be well.”
Anxiety in your life indicates sure fire reasons for alarm. If those sirens are sounding, you have a fantastic opportunity! Instead of focusing on our anxiety, let’s address the issues that cause it and stop those alarms for good!
“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’Psalm 94:18, 19 Thank you, ManetteKay for sending this verse my way.
your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.”