We need to leave in 25 minutes. The kids are half-dressed—one is demanding a corndog and the other is gnawing on a crayon. But I can’t focus on anything. My heart is racing and my thoughts are scattered.
Am I really having a panic attack, right now? over this? Seriously, Kelsey?
But it doesn’t matter how ludicrous or untimely it is. It’s still happening.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), it’s happened enough times that after a moment of annoyance, disappointment, and fear, I know what to do.
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Surrender Your Anxiety in Four Grace-Filled Steps
Sweet friend, these steps may not always work for you. Please, please see my disclaimer at the bottom.
Step One: Acknowledge Your Stressors
The first step is to (the best of your ability) write down everything that is making you anxious. Anything and everything that comes to mind, I list out. That day my list looked like this:
- eye doctor appointment
- installing car seats
- driving in the snow
- finishing my guest post
- scheduling Facebook posts
- writing tomorrow’s blog post
- finding a church home
- extended family coming over
Writing it all down helps you realize what you are really panicking over. This is super helpful if you are like me and start beating yourself up if your panic attack is brought on by something small. Usually, but not always, there are other stressors involved.
Step Two: Label The Underlying Cause
Your first list is probably full of specific events or tasks or possibilities. To help clarify what we’re anxious about, we are going to dig a little deeper and stick labels on those stressors. For example, when you are stressed out about what other people may think (pride), when you are worried about getting hurt (not trusting God), feeling alone (desiring Christian community), etc. . .
Here’s what I mean:
eye doctor appointment(Pride) installing car seats(Physical Safety – Fear) driving in the snow(Physical Safety – Fear) finishing my guest post(Fear of Disappointing Others – Pride) scheduling Facebook posts(Serving Others – Time Management) writing tomorrow’s blog post(Serving Others – Time Management) finding a church home(Finding Community) extended family coming over(Serving Others – Pride)
While my eye doctor appointment was stressing me out (and getting there in the snow), the real root of my anxiety was that I was overwhelmed with all I needed to get done and my pride was getting in the way.
I had overscheduled myself, and I was paying for it.
Step Three: Pray
Pray over your list. Ask for the strength and peace to get through hard, trying times. Repent for any sins you identified while labeling your fears.
Don’t worry about it being perfect. The Perfect One doesn’t require our perfection. Simply come to Him with open hands and a needy, repentant heart.
And while prayer is listed as step three, please feel free to pray whenever you want and need to. This step is about specifically praying over the lists you created.
Step Four: Find Verses for Your Triggers
For this step, you are going to need at least a half an hour, which if you are in the midst of a panic attack will mostly happen after the fact. (Unfortunately, anxiety is rarely limited to our homes when we have ample time.) So it’s a good thing you wrote down your stressors already.
Use your list to look up the verses that correspond to the labels you gave your stressors. If you have a study Bible (I love my Life Application Study Bible) or are able to use one of the many (free) online Bibles, they do all the hard work for you.
You simply journal all of the verses that apply to your situation.
Dwell on them, and pray them.
And if you find yourself being triggered by the same things over and over again, those are the verses you should commit to memory or place throughout your house or where you’re usually triggered.
Moving Foward in Surrender
I’m all too familiar with anxiety. It sneaks up on when we least expected. We think we are doing great, and then BOOM we are paralyzed with fear and raging emotions. Other times, we know we are about to fall apart but feel helpless to the coming storm.
Regardless of where you in your overcoming anxiety journey, I want to encourage you to daily surrender. You don’t have to wait for a panic attack to start writing down your anxieties and using Truth to combat them with. I pray that these grace-filled steps will become a daily or weekly habit of surrender.
Go love well. . .that includes loving yourself, too.
Disclaimer: I’m NOT advocating stopping medication or professional counseling. While I believe whole-heartedly that our God is capable of healing all, I also know that sometimes He uses measures other than miraculous intervention to heal us. If you were physically ill, you would seek medical attention. Please do the same if you are suffering mentally or emotionally.