The Power of Using Prayer to Conquer Your Anxiety
I know I have shared numerous tips and tricks that I use to manage my anxiety. This week I want to share, in more detail, the one that I feel is most important and helpful.
Prayer is the number one thing that I do to help me with my anxiety. I pray conversationally all day long. If I am anxious over a to-do list while I am driving home, I pray to have a peaceful mind. I pray for perspective. Is that to-do list really worth me getting stressed over? If I am anxious about driving somewhere by myself (usually long trips), I pray the entire way asking God to see me to my destination safely. I ask him to take away my fears and worries. I pray when I feel overwhelmed, and when I feel like I need to be reset. I pray, pray, pray, and pray!
I rely on God to see me through situations that I feel I could never figure out on my own. I ask him to help me manage my fears, doubts, and worries. I ask him to see me through my lowest points. I ask him to love me, even when I feel unlovable. That’s the beauty though, he is there TO be asked.
I am not meant to feel alone, because I never am. I am not meant to handle it all by myself, because God will help me handle all things he sends my way. I am not meant to carry around all the past things I have done wrong, because I am meant to be forgiven. I am not meant to focus on my anxious thoughts, because I am meant to give those to God in prayer. I am meant to have peace, love, and happiness, because that is what God says that I deserve.
When my anxiety hits me full force, all I have to do is open my heart and ask God to take away my worries, fears, and negative thoughts. When I turn to God, he does as I ask. He may not always answer me the way that I want, but he does always answer. God stands by my side, calms my mind, and takes on the majority of the negative anxious thoughts that are plaguing me. God is resilient and never gives up on me.
I feel blessed that I have someone who willingly loves me even knowing deep, dark, terrible things about me. God is invested in me. God will see me through anything, because he loves me. God will see me through everything, because HE needs me to be the person he created me to be. I have things I need to do for him here in this beautiful world.
I need to be able to make this world a better place in whatever way that he calls me. I can’t do that if I am a hot mess trying to desperately handle everything on my own. I can’t do that if I am so anxious I can’t function. I NEED to rely on someone stronger than myself. God will always work to help me be a better version of myself, and he will always work to help me overcome things that could drag me down. Why? Because God loves me and is counting on me to do what he needs done.
That said, I decided to write down what my typical prayer is each day. Given the day, it may look a little different. It may be broken into three separate prayers depending on if my one year old interrupts (he-he). I want to share my prayer with you in case you would like to use it, too. My hope is that maybe this prayer will inspire you to pray your own prayer. NOTHING is too much to ask of God and there should be no shame about what your needs are.
I challenge you to turn towards God and actually TALK to him. Tell him your worries, fears, and doubts. Let him shoulder your pain, stress, and worry. Ask him to help you change, if that’s what you feel you need. Ask him to see you through a challenging/overwhelming circumstance. Ask him to take on your worries, doubts, and fears. Ask him to carry what you feel that you cannot. It is okay to ask him to help you carry your load. You have someone there banging on the door ASKING and PLEADING to help you, so let him!
My Daily Prayer for My Anxiety
Lord, I pray that you will take me through this blessed day, and help me to make good decisions and face my troubles along the way.
I am thankful for my family, friends, home, and health.
I appreciate all you have given me in this life, and I appreciate the love that you freely give to me today.
Make me strong enough to overcome things that want to bring me down.
Open my mind and heart to you, and allow me to accept, without guilt, your protection, love, and guidance.
I ask to wear you as my armor, and use you as my shelter today.
I ask you to please forgive me for the sins of yesterday, so I can start fresh today.
Help me to leave the past in the past, forgive myself, and move forward without the weight of things that have long since been forgiven by you.
Please cleanse my mind and take away all thoughts, fears, and worries that will hold me back.
I ask you to help me trust you, without fail, in all circumstances, even when my instinct is to fight for control and trust only myself.
I ask that you help me be better than I was yesterday, so that I may be able to accomplish what your will is for me today.
Please protect my loved ones, help those that are sick, and comfort those who are hurting.
As your servant I ask you to use me today, Lord.
Use me to help others, and use me to help make this beautiful world a better place.
I ask you to work within me so that my fear will not hold me back from things you need done.
You have asked me to be anxious for nothing and instead pray for everything. Help me do this, Lord.
I ask that you remind me of your presence, and the safety your presence brings when fear, worry, and anxiety threaten to overtake me.
Stay by my side, so that I know it will all be okay.
Relax my body and my mind, so that I can the person you have called me to be.
I ask you to remind me that there are more positives than negatives in this beautiful life of mine.
I am rooted by my hope and trust in you, Lord.
I ask you to bring me peace and happiness on this blessed day, in Jesus name I pray.
Until next week,
It is hard to seek out the positives of anxiety, but through looking at my life I have been able to see that I have learned many wonderful life lessons BECAUSE of my anxiety. I have talked about how my anxiety taught me a tremendous amount about unconditional love. In this post, I want to share another positive that came out of my having anxiety. My anxiety has made me a better teacher. Yep, you heard me right. This blaring problem and constant battle of mine has made me a better teacher. Anxiety has made me better at my job, and I am thankful.
Over the years my anxiety has shaped me into a person that is now full of concern and empathy. I am hyper aware and sensitive to the needs of others. Now, I’m not saying I was a person incapable of concern and empathy before my anxiety. However, I will say that my perspective of having experienced anxiety first hand has made me into this person that now cares about the needs and worries of others more fiercely than I ever could have without having hit the lows that I have hit.
I am not perfect. I have faults. I still have a lot to learn about teaching. I have a lot of room for growth as a person. Nonetheless, I am proud to admit that I have grown in a truly positive way every day, because of the experiences I have had with my anxiety.
As a result of my anxiety, I want to understand what someone needs when they are hurting. I do not want this just because I was raised to do the right thing, but because my heart literally hurts when I see others going through what I went through. My experiences make me desperately want to help others. I want to help people who feel misunderstood and alone. I want others to know that what they are going through is something others have gone through as well.
So, how does my anxiety make me a better teacher to my sweet little sixth grade students you might ask?
1. As a result of my anxiety, I am extra sensitive to the moods of those around me. I am able to figure out my students’ moods and emotional needs pretty easily. This means that I can help them feel more understood, content, safe, and cared about by being aware of their emotional needs. A student that feels understood, content, safe, and cared about will be ABLE to work on their academics.
Prior to my anxiety, I thought kids just needed to pay attention and do what the teachers asked them to do without excuse. End of story. That’s what I was expected to do in school, and I did. The only reason we had school was because we needed to learn, right? I still think kids need to pay attention and do what the teacher has asked them to do. However, I am more understanding that a kid who is more emotionally secure is a kid that CAN focus and complete their school work.
Think about this for a minute. If a student isn’t made me to feel secure, safe, and understood while they are at school they will not be able to focus 100% on their school work. My anxiety has given me an extra sensitive tool to use at school to help my students feel secure, safe, and understood, which in turn helps them enjoy coming to school. As a result, they typically work harder and learn more.
2. I can understand the constant fight to turn off their little minds when streams of thoughts are distracting them from what they should be doing. Let me say here that Middle Schoolers always have “other” things on their minds. However, I feel that I am more understanding when they aren’t able to turn off other thoughts, because I have been there. I am understanding when they are not able to focus, because they have a million things running through their minds.
Are they worried about practice later? Are they concerned about going home and needing to get chores done? Do they have to babysit their siblings later on? Are they traveling? Is money tight and mom and dad have been fighting? Did their friends say something bad about them? The list of questions that might be running through my students minds goes on-on-on. I still expect them to learn when they come to school. However, I recognize they may need to be given a chance to calm their mind and cut out the extra thoughts, so that they can still get the assignment done.
I help them WANT to pay attention and learn what I am teaching. I try even harder to help them see value in what we are doing, because I know how easily distracted they can be with various worries and thoughts. I try to help keep their minds from wandering by helping them see that what we are doing needs their undivided attention. I have had to get VERY creative and VERY hands-on with my lessons to do this, and this has made me a better teacher.
3. My anxiety helps me understand their worries and the millions of what-if scenarios that run through their little minds, because they have run through my mind too. I understand their sensitive insecure natures and their need to feel accepted, understood, and not alone. How do I understand? Because I have been there and felt those things myself.
4. For my anxious students, of which there are many, I can truly relate to them. I remember how hard it was for me to work when my anxiety was at its peak. How can I ever expect a ten or eleven year old child to complete their work when they are not mentally in a place that will let them do their academics? I work hard to create a space catered to helping students enjoy learning while being prompted to stay calm and relaxed. In a lot of instances, not all, I understand what they need to hear and how to present things to elicit the least amount of stress. I know what would have helped me, and I want to do that for my students.
5. I have learned from my anxiety and with being a teacher that while I have a curriculum to teach, I also have little hearts to look after. Both are extremely important and both directly relate to one another. I take these jobs seriously.
6. I have learned to slow down and take the time to invest in my students, because I want my students to invest in ME and my CLASS. Oftentimes, my students need to be reassured about their what-if’s, worries, fears, and anxieties. I can see the same stress in my students that I have lived with.I want to share an example of how my anxiety has helped my students by sharing the below conversation that I had with one of my students two weeks ago. No, I do not always respond correctly and I am not a perfect teacher. However, I do feel like I am in a position to be better for my students because of my understanding of my anxiety.
“I get it kiddo, I promise I really do. Tests are hard and stressful, but you will do great I just know it,” was my reply to a Sixth grade student of mine who was talking to me nervously about their upcoming test in Science.
“Mrs. Scerri you don’t understand. My mom will be so upset with me if I don’t do well. I mean what-if my teacher thinks I’m dumb because I end up failing the test, what-if I don’t remember what I studied and my teacher doesn’t think I really did study…and I did I really did! What will happen if I do badly on the test and it makes my entire grade go down? I thought I was ready, but there are 40 questions on this test. What-if I don’t get done and have to turn it in incomplete.”
I was ready to respond routinely by saying, “If you do your best and try your hardest you won’t let anyone down. You will do great.” While this is TRUE, it was not what my student needed to hear. My student needed to be reassured about her what-if’s, worries, fears, and anxieties. I saw the same stress in her that I had surrounding tests when I was a child.
My sweet eleven year old student had come to me with the same worries for each test this year, and she came to me with the same level of stress no matter the subject or length of test. Instead of responding quickly when she came to me again like I sometimes want to do in order to save time, I decided to take a few minutes and really talk to her.
In that moment, I decided to invest in her. I will be the first to admit it is hard to find a balance between prioritizing the long to-do lists and having these conversations. Teaching four classes a day and trying to stay on top of all my darling sixth grade students in no easy task, and doesn’t leave me much time for extra conversations.
In that moment I thought to myself, Ginger, you dealt with test anxiety from Elementary School all the way through College and you can help her feel better if you just take a minute. Take that extra minute and talk with her, she needs it and will do better academically once she has talked it through.
I thought about what I would have wanted my teachers to tell me. I thought on this for a minute and told my student the truth. I would have wanted a teacher to take the time to talk me through my anxiety, and I would have wanted my teacher to talk to me truthfully about what outcomes could come from whatever I was worried about. I would want to look at the outcome, and realize that it was going to be okay no matter how it turned out. I would have wanted to be reassured.
I told my student, “You know what kiddo, it probably is going to disappoint you mom if you don’t do well on the test, but that will be a disappointment that passes quickly. Your mom will love you regardless of a Science test. Have you talked to your mom about how stressed you get about taking tests? Maybe talking with her with help her understand you better, and she might even be able to help you figure out some tricks on how to take the next test without so much worry.”
“I just don’t think she will understand,” she said.
“Would you just try talking to her, for me?” I said.
“Maybe, but Mrs. Scerri what if my teacher thinks I’m dumb? What-if I don’t remember what I studied? What if I run out of time?”
I was glad that my sweet sixth grader was going to maybe talk with her mom, but she had already moved on to going through the rest of her list of worries related to her upcoming test.
Trying to head off her other worries I said, “Well I don’t think your teacher will think you are dumb just because of a test. Your teacher will know how hard you work during class every day and think that maybe you just don’t do well on tests. I know all your teachers know you are hard working and that you understand most of what you learn, so they won’t ever look down on you just because of this one test. I know it’s super hard to think positive when you are worried, but instead of worrying about the what-if of not remembering what you studied try to say to yourself that there is no way for you to forget it since you did such a good job preparing last night. Try to believe in yourself, kid, and don’t talk yourself out of knowing things that you know. You’ve got this.”
“What-if I run out of time, and then I’m late for my break or my exploratory class? “She asked.
“Have you ever run out of time before, and not been given the chance to finish your assignment during the next class period?” I asked.
She thought about my question for a minute and said, “Well, no.”
“Look, kiddo, if you work hard and your teacher sees you are using all the time to do a good job, and you just don’t get done with the test she is going to give you time to finish your test at a different time. Don’t stress about something that hasn’t happened yet, especially now that you know your teacher won’t ever put you into the position of not having time to finish tests. You’re always going to be given the chance to finish your tests and assignments, and your teachers aren’t ever going to have you turn it in incomplete. Take your time and use as much of it as you need.”
This whole conversation took a whopping three minutes, and in those three minutes I saw that her what-if’s had been played out and addressed, and her worry seemed to be going away by the minute. In that moment, I felt proud that I had been able to help by investing in her the emotional support she needed. I feel that prior to my anxiety I would not have been as patient at walking through each of her concerns, however, because I have walked that anxious path I wanted to help her feel better. I wanted her to understand she was going to be okay. I wanted her to know that she could do amazing, because she was! My anxiety has allowed me to WANT to be this way with my students, and that folks has made me a better teacher.
I challenge you to look at your job, relationships, hobbies, etc. this week. What do you do? Is there a silver lining to your anxiety that helps you be better at your job, in your relationship, in your hobby? I want to ask you to do something very hard this week. Find a positive aspect or outcome of your anxiety instead of a negative.
Until next week,
*Disclaimer: I am in no way a medical professional. The below recommended vitamins and minerals are things I found and now use to manage my own anxiety, however, before you take any of the below vitamins please discuss with your doctor. Use my recommendations at your own discretion.
Anxiety is something that I had to work hard to figure out, and I still haven’t figured it out one hundred percent. I don’t think anyone ever does. I have had to really research and look into anxiety, try new tips and tricks, as well as use coping skills in order to manage it to the point that I am now.
One of the easiest things to help me manage my anxiety is simply taking care of my body’s basic nutrient and vitamin needs. In the midst of researching, I found a lot of information on being aware of what nutrients your body needs to be the best it can be physically, mentally, and emotionally. I would have never thought that vitamins and supplements would make that much of a difference, but they really do. Upon researching, I decided that I needed to know if I was getting proper nutrients, and if I had deficiencies. I became intrigued with the idea that certain vitamins could really help with my anxiety. It sounded too good to be true, but it wasn’t.
Vitamins and minerals are extremely important for your body’s overall health and function. In my research I found vitamins that make a big difference in both mood and anxiety. I also found that some vitamin deficiency’s result in rapid heart beat, nervousness, and fatigue…hmmm, I remember thinking… that sounds oddly like my anxiety. Is my body making my anxiety worse, because I am not being aware that it needs a certain vitamin?
It was fascinating to read that you can manage your mood and anxiety simply by taking a vitamin pill, or by eating a lot of foods that are rich in a specific vitamin. When I first started having anxiety, I was unsure of what I could do that would actually work. A dear friend of mine recommended looking into and researching vitamins and minerals that help with anxiety, and man am I glad that I did. There is a very real connection with what vitamins our bodies need and how that relates to anxiety. Do yourself a favor and check to make sure you are getting the vitamins below.
This is my number one recommendation for a vitamin that I use weekly to manage my anxiety. Seriously, I can’t talk enough about how awesome magnesium is, and how much it has helped me manage my anxiety. If I can’t sleep, I take magnesium. If I feel anxious, I take magnesium. If I know I am going to have a stressful day that might bring out my anxiety, I take magnesium. If you are deficient in magnesium it can cause weakness, fatigue, nervousness, and rapid pulse; all of which make your anxiety much worse. If you are deficient in magnesium this can bring on an anxiety attack when you otherwise wouldn’t have had it. It not only works to manage and stay on top of your anxiety when you take magnesium daily or weekly, but if you are in the midst of a panic attack or having a particularly anxious day you can take it to help calm down in that moment. I use Natural Calm, and it is amazing.
I know most people think of calcium and associate it with their mom trying to get them to drink their milk for strong bones. However, lots of things in your body depend on calcium to work properly. Your heart, muscles, and nerves need calcium to function properly. Guess what else calcium effects? Your mood. Calcium is important for regulating our mood. Calcium acts as a natural sedative with calming and relaxing effects. I get the Natural Calm (my magnesium supplement I mentioned above) with added Calcium. This lets me kill two birds with one stone. These two supplements combined in my daily Natural Calm dose help me manage my anxiety extremely well.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant, and guess what? Antioxidants are super important for your body, and they even help you manage anxiety symptoms. Vitamin C helps to combat stress and repair the damage that is done to your body by stress and anxiety. Drink that orange juice, eat that kiwi, or take that Vitamin C tablet. Vitamin C also helps keep you healthy by boosting your immune system. Get your Vitamin C people!
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a mood and energy booster. That means if you are deficient in Vitamin D it can make you more tired, it can effect mood changes, and can make you irritable. Yikes, right? All of the symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency make anxiety worse, and can spiral you into anxiety even if it was under control. So get your tush outside and soak up some sun, or take yourself a Vitamin D supplement.
5. Vitamin B
Vitamin B helps the body make the hormone serotonin, which influences mood. If you do not have enough Vitamin B in your body, your mood will be effected. This of course directly effects your anxiety. Take that Vitamin B!
Probiotics are good for you in so many different ways. Maintaining a healthy amount of gut bacteria, which is what a probiotic does, helps your body have a healthy response to chronic stress. Probiotics have also been shown to promote good mental health. Pick out a good probiotic, and start taking it.
7. Fish Oil
You need fat. Yep, you heard that right. Get your fat! The right fats are extremely important for you to have, so make sure you get them into your diet. I take a Fish Oil each day. Fish Oil, Omega-3, is the basic building blocks of the brain and nervous system, so taking fish oil helps maintain a healthy level for brain function.
These are the seven vitamins I take on a daily or weekly schedule to help with my anxiety. I feel powerful making sure that my body is equipped with what it needs to help me conquer and manage my anxiety. Knowing that my body is fueled with the right things to help my anxiety is extremely important. I would love to hear the vitamins or supplements that you may take to manage your anxiety.
Until next time,
Anxiety can make you your worst version of yourself, and leave you feeling utterly defeated and not understood. It is easy to look at the many negative things that are associated with anxiety, and allow yourself to be frustrated and angry that you are restricted by something that you can’t control. Living with anxiety is hard. Heck, it is hard living with anxiety even though I have figured out how to manage my anxiety to a point where I can live successfully and fully (without medicine). I still have my bad days. It is tiring and hard having to be consistently intentional with staying on top of my anxiety.
Sometimes, it is difficult to try and find the positives in your life if you are overwhelmed when dealing with your anxiety. I have found that positive silver lining though, and I have to share. I have learned a beautiful, and unexpected lesson through looking at my anxiety. What is this silver lining you might be wondering? Love, unconditional love. Love and support beyond what I feel I deserve.
I have found a deeper appreciation and love FOR my loved ones by watching them love me the way they do. I am at my absolute worst when anxiety overwhelms me, and you know what? My husband, mom, dad, sister, friends, etc. still love me in SPITE of my anxiety. Take a moment and think about someone who loves you through your anxiety. Do not worry that you wish they didn’t have too, just take a moment to feel the peace and security that their love brings you. They love you so deeply that it does not matter what version of you that they see, because they are going to love you regardless.
It is easy to love someone when life is easy and your relationship is simply able to be centered on love and happiness. It is easy to love someone when everything is good, but it is when everything is falling apart that love is hard to give and even harder to receive. In the hard times being loved means so much more, because you are shown the extent and depth of someone’s’ love for you through their free choice to stay by your side. You see the depth of their love in that they are committed to you and they are not going anywhere. When someone loves you through your worst you know they love you DEEPLY and UNCONDITIONALLY. This is a beautiful thing to realize, right?
With my anxiety I have shown sides of myself that I am ashamed of, but I am still loved by those in my immediate family and by my friends. They may not particularly LIKE my state of anxiousness in that moment, but they still LOVE me regardless. I have been crippled by fear and worry and unable to do things that I need to do for myself, however, they have helped me by simply still loving me.
It is a comfort to me when I am feeling overwhelmed to I not have to worry if my husband is going to walk away, leave me, or become so frustrated that I am no longer worth it. I KNOW that he will be there always no matter his frustration level, and I know that he will always love me. I know that he will always want to help me, and he will always try to support me. My family and friends will be the people that I turn to, and in some cases lash out towards (I hate looking back and knowing I did this to someone who loves me). However, they will be the people that hold me and love me through whatever I am feeling in spite of how I may lash out, act, or react.
At its worst my anxiety has made me need constant reassurance, want to plan for everything (no you cannot ever plan everything), stress out over things I shouldn’t, over-analyze everything from each conversation to each relationship I have, fearful of being alone, terrified of long drives by myself, worried about traveling, etc. and the list continues. I am not a pretty sight when I am stressed out, or when something does not go as I planned. I am not a pretty sight when I am not able to do something I needed to get done, at which point I proceed to worry anxiously over my “to-do” list until the next day when I can finally get it done. I am not a pretty sight as I get more-and-more stressed the closer I get to a long drive by myself. Anxiety in and of itself is N0T a pretty sight.
I know it has to be hard being the spouse, family member, or friend of someone with anxiety. It has got to be difficult being part of my support system that sees me in total freak out mode hearing the same worries and situations over-and-over again. I know it is hard wanting to understand my anxiety, but not being able to. I know it has got to be hard to love someone when they are crying and feeling overwhelmed and they don’t know why, or what they can do in order to fix it. I know it has got to be hard to love someone that can’t turn off their anxiety, so they can just feel like themselves again. I know it has got to be so hard to love someone who feels undeserving of love, because they feel like a mess or a burden.
Anxiety makes it HARD on support systems, family, and friends to understand those of us who suffer from its affliction. But you know what? My support system LOVES me through each situation no matter how hard it is on them. They have learned what I need from them to calm down and manage my anxiety, and they want to help, not out of obligation, but out of love for me.
The fact that we have people that love us through all our problems, faults, worries, and fears teaches us how blessed we are to have them and be loved like that. I know that it makes me want to do better, not just for myself, but for my loved ones. I know that everyday I wake up thankful for my husband who easily forgives me for my outbursts. I am thankful that, most of the time, he understands what it is that I need to hear and what I need to do in order to feel better. I am even more thankful that he doesn’t make me feel bad about myself, how I have reacted, or what I am feeling. Because of his love, I am able to wake up with a regretful and grateful heart to ask for his forgiveness if I lashed out at him. As a receiver of his constant love, I am aware that I want to be deserving of his love. I wake up with the perspective to do better FOR him because he deserves for me to be the best version of myself; he deserves to be loved like he loves me.
Through my husbands’ unconditional love and the love of others, I am inspired by how great love can be. My anxiety has allowed me to understand how much each person in my support system loves me if they are all willing to stay by my side, shoulder my pain, and work towards my goals like they are their own. I love them each so much more, because I know they will never love me less. This ladies and gentleman is the beautiful silver lining of my anxiety. I can look back at my worst moments and know just how loved I am, because of the people standing by my side through the thick of it.
The next time you find yourself overwhelmed with the negatives of anxiety, I challenge you to think about the people you turn towards that willingly help and love you through your anxiety. Appreciate them and know that you are loved beyond what you can comprehend. Accept their unconditional love, because you are deserving of it and know that you will get through this. You are loved unconditionally, and that makes it all so much better.
Until next week,
Hey all you awesome people reading my blog. I'm Ginger and this blog chronicles how I live my life fabulously with anxiety.