This is the third part in a series that tells a story about anxiety and Christian women. To start at the beginning, click here.
Today I am continuing my story and sharing specifically the practical steps I have been taking to my road of healing. I do want to caution that just because these are my steps, doesn’t mean they are the right ones for everyone.
Also, when I say steps towards healing, I am fully aware that dealing with anxiety may be something I struggle with for my entire life.
God may not fully remove the thorn just as Paul wasn’t healed from his thorn in 2 Corinthians 12:9 but I am confident that I am being sanctified and God is using this struggle in my life to draw closer to Him.
My Steps Towards Healing
Finally Admitting It
The first step towards my road to recovery was to finally start admitting it.
This was probably the scariest because being vulnerable with people you love and who know you is always hard. I felt like I had been deceiving others by never sharing this struggle.
Would they think less of me?
But little by little, I started sharing and you know what happened? Others began admitting to me they struggled too!
The more I shared, the more I heard “me too.”
Maybe they weren’t struggling with anxiety in the exact same way, but they were working through some similar emotions.
I also began to realize just how many of the people in my life had been to or are currently seeing a counselor.
The feeling of being alone changed into we are in this together.
Seeking Biblical Counseling
I should have seen a counselor years ago, after all, I lived through my parent’s divorce when I was younger, the tragic loss of my brother, the anxiety attacks that engulfed me in my 20’s, and the cancer of my father, but I never did.
One morning at church, I nervously asked my Pastor for a recommendation for a Christian counselor. He prayed for me and gave me the information to a wonderful counselor who has helped me work through years of heavy baggage.
I started seeing my counselor in April of this year and I still go about once a month. It is one of those hard things I look forward to.
I still go in a little nervous about what we are going to work through but I come out an hour later feeling light and free.
Not only have we talked through events in my life that have shaped me, and that for whatever reason, I stuffed down, my counselor has also given me tools and resources to use when the physical symptoms of anxiety begin to creep up.
For me personally, I haven’t had an anxiety attack or the physical nervous symptoms of anxiety since seeing a counselor but I know that is not the same for everyone. Some may require some form of medication alongside their therapy and I wish we would remove the stigma from seeking professional help from any emotional/mental illness or struggle.
Gratitude and Mindfulness
One of the tools my counselor has coached me through is to practice more gratitude and mindfulness through my day. Now before I move on, when I say the term mindfulness I am not talking about some new age practice but rather more of being present in my day and looking to see God in everything.
For example, one very practical thing that I do now is to silence myself while I fold the laundry.
I used to listen to music, a podcast, or an audiobook to help pass the time but for now, I’m turning off the noise and really focusing on what I’m doing.
I touch the clothing, I think about whose clothing I am folding, the precious gift of my family, the active stage my young children are in now. I practice gratitude to the Lord by praying for my family and acknowledging what a gift they are.
I don’t know if I’m adequately describing it but this 20 minutes in my day has been heart transformative.
It takes the view off of myself, my to-do list, or any distraction, and it puts it on God and my family.
After I spend this time folding clothes while practicing gratitude and mindfulness, I feel relaxed, focused, and my heart is overflowing.
I fold clothes, but it could be anything such as washing dishes, making dinner, mowing the grass.., anything where you silence the noise and intentionally focus your thoughts towards the Lord and what He has done and is currently doing in your life.
When I do begin to feel anxiety rising, I will fold a basket of clothes… I have also been known to pull the folded hand towels out of the kitchen drawer to refold them if I need a moment 😉
When I’m talking about self-care, I’m talking about filling my cup with soulful activities, not necessarily luxury activities. True Biblical self-care means I am regularly making the time for the three tenants of spiritual, physical, and emotional self-care.
I go into more of what this looks like in these posts:
In a recent counseling session, my counselor asked what I am currently doing for regular self-care? I have been thinking about it and this is my current routine:
Spiritual– daily Bible reading and study, praying over my husband, praying over my children, Bible journaling and prayer, reading a spiritual growth book that points my heart back to Christ
Physical- going on walks outdoors, exercising, eating foods that I know are healthy for me, regular doctor appointments
Emotional– seeing a counselor, practicing gratitude and mindfulness while folding the clothes, getting outside daily, attending a weekly Bible study for both growth and fellowship, reading, moving non-essentials from my to-do list
Changing my Diet
I’m hesitant to share this but I after living it, and removing certain food groups while being aware of the physical side effects, I am confident that certain foods play a negative part in my physical and emotional health.
Last year I saw a functional holistic doctor who ran a complete food screening. We made a plan where I removed most dairy and gluten from my diet. At first, it was with the intention of healing my body from the inside out but I quickly discovered the value it had on my emotional health as well.
This year with the accident and overall busy schedules, I fell back into some poor eating habits and my anxiety roared back up. Alongside everything else I have shared, I did a strict Whole 30 + reintroduction phase. I noticed the effects certain foods had on me so I try very hard to stay clear of some of these foods.
Again, this is what worked for me so I would advise anyone reading this to exercise caution before removing food groups outside of the guidance of a good doctor or Whole 30 approved coach.
When I exercise, I feel good… period.
It helps with every area of my health, including my struggle with anxiety. I can tell if I let a few days go by without exercising. I not only become crabby and stressed, but some of my nervous tension begins to creep back up.
Exercise allows me to physically release all of the tension. Currently, I make every effort to get outside and go on a 30+ minute walk whenever I can. Weather and family schedules make it so I can’t do it daily but I aim for at least 3-4 times a week.
At home, I do pilates through Robin Long’s Balanced Life Sisterhood. It is my favorite membership site of all!
There are many different workouts so I’m doing different things each day. It’s not all mat-based pilates either. There is cardio, barre, stretching, and other varieties so I feel like I’m getting a killer workout every day.
Talking About Anxiety
I am no longer stuffing, I am regularly talking about the impact anxiety has had on my life- both good and bad.
This is vital in my own healing journey but it also helps to validate that we are not alone in our struggles.
Since talking about my own anxiety struggle, I have heard from women, both in my real life and here in this online space, who are also struggling with similar issues.
Over the next few days, we are going to wrap up this series on anxiety and the Christian woman by talking about removing the stigma of anxiety from our Christian culture, as well as practical resources for the woman who does struggle with anxiety.
Anxiety & the Christian Woman: Steps Towards Healing (Part 3)
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