I’m Over It! Pushing Past Anxiety and Stress

I feel like I’ve been battling against the “Big Four”, for most of my life. Anxiety, stress, being overwhelmed and frustration. My Mom said that when I was a little girl, I would get so overwhelmed with my homework, and cry as if it were this huge mountain. This is interesting to me, because I actually did pretty well in school. I always made A’s and B’s in my gifted and honors classes. So, it’s not like I struggled to do the work (except Math), I just guess I was easily overwhelmed by it. Maybe that’s why I was born two weeks late! Being born could be overwhelming for a baby! Sorry Mommy.

There have been countless experiences in my life (personal, educational, work and ministry) where I’ve felt overtaken by anxiety and stress. It is nearly paralyzing to me. I feel a rush of anger, fear, and immense tension through my body, until I could just burst into tears. 

In private, I’m uncontrollably sobbing to the point of blood shot red eyes and swollen, puffy eyelids. Choice words may be expressed, and things may get slammed or thrown. In public, I’ll shut down by going silent, mentally becoming numb, or just mysteriously disappear. But eventually once the “last straw has been drawn”, crying is inevitable, in public and private because there’s no where else for that tension to go.  

Then comes that daunting feeling of guilt and shame. I suddenly do everything I can to rebuild myself through positive self-talk, scripture and prayers. And to be honest, I’m just over it.

I am just completely over it! Here I am 32 years old, still fighting the urge to have blown out tantrums that would put my toddler to shame. I’m over the initial feelings that get me to that point. I’m over the feelings of guilt and shame that I feel afterwards. Yeah, I often succeed at the task in front of me. But the lasting physical effects, just isn’t worth it to me. Plus, I can rarely enjoy the success, because I’ve spent so much time worked up over it, I’m just satisfied to see it done. I listen to some of my clients have breakdowns and fits and I think, “Lord! I cannot be like them 60, 70, 80 years old still fighting this struggle! There’s no way. I’m too old for this!”

Talking to a therapist a few weeks ago, she helped me realize that I have a great support system and great insight into my triggers. One problem is that I have a hard time compartmentalizing life. Instead of keeping the different parts of my life in their respective corners, I let all of them blend together. It’s my strength and weakness, ‘caring too much’. Yet at this point, caring too much has overtaken me so much. I don’t want to pass this flaw onto Samson. If I keep on this way, my health could be at risk and I wouldn’t even know it. Then what? If I’m down in my health, those so called pressing tasks would still be there, and the world and life of others would still go on. So in that case, it would be in my BEST interest to make some big changes and shut down this rollercoaster of emotions.

This post is more than a personal vent and reflection session. It’s so that I have accountability and can come back to it as a reminder of what I’ve promised to myself. I have some words of advice to the future me. If you need to, feel free to adjust and make them your own to help you get through your own “Big Four”:

  1. If it is not life or death, it’s not worth the stress.
  2. Prioritize and work smarter in small sections. If it didn’t get done, then there’s always tomorrow. If not, then you did the best you could because you put your honest effort into it.
  3. “I can do ALL things through Christ who Strengthens ME!” – Philippians 4:13
  4. Take a walk for about 5 minutes and practice slow breathing exercises to decompress.
  5. Think of Sam and Samson and the JOY they bring you!
  6. The Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
  7. Focus on what really matters in life.
  8. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
  9. Trust God to get you through this, He has you safe in the palm of His hands.
  10. Don’t take on or do more, just for the satisfaction of others.
  11. Practice the art of “No”. If you can’t give 100%, let it flow to someone else.
  12. It always works out in the end, believe in yourself!

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