How to Ditch Anxiety & Embrace the Adventure

Anxiety is a thief, it holds us captive and steals our sense of adventure. Only God has the power to replace our anxious thoughts with a sense of adventure, and give us hope for a new kind of tomorrow.

 

How did I get here?

What is happening to me?

I was flat on my back on the floor of the waiting room, worried faces staring down at me.

Had I collapsed?

Why couldn’t I catch my breath?

Why did it feel like my skin was on fire?

My worried family rushed me to the emergency room, fear etched in their expressions.

I had not been myself for weeks…no months!

And now this?

There is not a moment of my life that I remember more vividly than that day in 2012.

 

It was the day that I experienced my first anxiety attack.

 

As a person who is not prone to anxiety, the whole experience shook me to the core.

I just wasn’t myself anymore, I couldn’t cope, I couldn’t think straight  and my life was spinning out of control.

I was a wreck!

We later discovered that there was a low-level carbon monoxide leak in our home that was sabotaging my mental and physical health.

Believe it or not, the symptoms of chronic carbon monoxide exposure include headache, weakness, personality change, and anxiety.

BINGO!

Once we found the source of the problem, we quickly remedied the situation and got me the medical care I needed.

But the whole experience left me forever changed because it gave me a deeper understanding of the crippling effects of anxiety and the hopelessness that remains in its wake.

 

Anxiety is a thief, it holds us captive and steals our sense of adventure. Only God has the power to replace our anxious thoughts with a sense of adventure, and give us hope for a new kind of tomorrow.

 

In that moment, I saw anxiety for what it truly is…

 

Anxiety is a thief, it holds us captive and steals our sense of adventure.

Anxiety is a rebel, it defies truth and fills our head with lies.

Anxiety is a bully, it defines us by our weakest moments.

Anxiety is a dictator, it tells us what we can and cannot do.

Anxiety is a prison guard, it locks us up and throws away the key.

 

Yes, anxiety is a powerful evil; it is a real enemy.

 

I cannot imagine what it is like to live with a high level of anxiety day in and day out; if you are in that place, my heart truly goes out to you.

I spent one brief season of my life crippled by anxiety, and I would do everything in my power to never, ever feel that way again!

 

There is only one thing I know of that is bigger and more powerful than anxiety.

 

It is the power and love of God shown to us through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

God’s love breaks bondage and gives us freedom from all sorts of entrapments, including anxiety!

The difficult part is understanding how to apply His truth to our lives in such a way that is truly helpful when we are plagued with anxious and hopeless thoughts.

 

 

Anxiety is a thief, it holds us captive and steals our sense of adventure. Only God has the power to replace our anxious thoughts with a sense of adventure, and give us hope for a new kind of tomorrow.

 

When I am feeling worried or anxious, I immediately retreat to the sanctuary of truth found in Philippians 4.

This truth has set me free time and again, and I hope it will do the same for you.

 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 6-7

 

I am not saying that this formula is simple, nor that results are immediate, but I am saying there is hope for every anxious situation!

 

It is clear to me from this passage of scripture that overcoming anxiety boils down to three main concepts.

 

 

FOCUS: Shifting our focus off the situation and onto God.

PRAYER: Requesting God’s presence with thanksgiving.

FAITH: Trusting God will bring peace and protection.

 

I may not suffer from anxiety attacks on a regular basis, but I still have to walk through this process of focus, prayer and faith on a regular basis.

Anxiety is an emotion that every mom, every wife, every sister, and every friend faces on a regular basis.

It sneaks up on us, confuses us and overwhelms us with fear and trepidation.

My own personal anxiety trap is the temptation to focus my attention on all of the possible outcomes of a situation rather than trusting God’s plan for my life.

I have learned that…..

Feelings of anxiety are always a signal that I am not trusting God with some area of my life.

 

 

Other factors that make me more prone to anxious feelings…

 

Sin in my life

Perfectionism

Rejection

Fear of failure

Inadequate rest

 

I am slowly learning that I have the ability to rejoice in the Lord even when I am feeling anxious.

 

Anxiety is a thief, it holds us captive and steals our sense of adventure. Only God has the power to replace our anxious thoughts with a sense of adventure, and give us hope for a new kind of tomorrow.

 

I am finally grasping the truth that serving a sovereign God means it’s OK to let go of the strong desire to control every aspect of my existence.

I am coming to understand that my failures and weaknesses are not going to change who God is and what He is capable of doing in and through me.

Each of these simple truths has brought freedom in my life, and I hope that my sharing them will bring you freedom also!

 

 

Overcoming anxiety is  a daily battle, and I find that there are times when I need an extra dose of encouragement from The Bible.

 

A few of my favorite scriptures to read when I am feeling anxious are…

 

 

Romans 8:28 – All things work together for those who love God.

Philippians 4: 10-13 – God will supply my every need.

1 Peter 1:5-7 – I am shielded by God’s power, trials grow my faith.

Matthew 6:34 – Do not worry about tomorrow, today has enough trouble.

Ephesians 4:22-24 – Put off the old, and put on the new.

 

 

When my focus is on God and I allow him to remain on the throne in my life, I have victory over anxiety.

 

When anxiety returns, it is a good signal to me that it is time for me to get back on my knees and re-focus my attention on God and make a conscious decision to trust Him with the outcome rather than trying to control it myself.

Once I do this, I am able to embrace the adventure.

And what a wonderful adventure it is!

 

Anxiety is a thief, it holds us captive and steals our sense of adventure. Only God has the power to replace our anxious thoughts with a sense of adventure, and give us hope for a new kind of tomorrow. Overcoming anxiety can happen with powerful prayers for daily strength and for healing.

 

If you feeling trapped by anxiety,  I pray that the truth of Philippians 4 permeates your heart today.

 

Only God has the power to replace our anxious thoughts with a sense of adventure and give us hope for a new kind of tomorrow.

I pray that this article is just the beginning of a beautiful conversation on what we can do to encourage one another to let go of anxiety and embrace the adventure.

I have been asking my friends and mentors for additional advice on the subject, and will add their suggestions in the comments of this post.

I would love to hear from you also!

Have you ever struggled with anxiety or panic attacks?  What has helped you to get through?

 

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This article has been shared at many of my favorite Faith & Family Linkups. 

Content inspired by Suzie Eller’s #livefreeThursday writing prompt, “Anxiety or Adventure.”

Photography from Dollar Photo Club.

Sarah Koontz

About Sarah Koontz

 
Sarah Koontz invites Christians of all ages to explore the beauty of God’s design. She is a passionate storyteller who enjoys using illustrations to communicate deep spiritual truths. Sarah lives on 13-acres in South Dakota with her husband, two daughters and a rowdy flock of 30 chickens. She revels in their simple, uncluttered life.

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Read Sarah’s full Bio Here.

41 thoughts on “How to Ditch Anxiety & Embrace the Adventure

  1. I meant it when I said I would be sharing my friend’s advice in the comments!

    Scott Says: I read Psalm 42 & 43 when I am feeling anxious.

    Amanda Says: Love this CD!! Overcoming Anxiety: Integrity Music’s Scripture Memory Songs. {My addition – You can find it on Amazon (affiliate link) or on Spotify.}

    Laura Says: Remembering that God is very close to me. So close, in fact that He is in my breath. He breathed His breath of life into me to give me life, Genesis 2:7. Therefore, I focus on my breath, literally my inhales and exhales. Eventually and most times, the anxiety lessons as my breathing levels out.

    “My Faith Tree” Says: Definitely the breathing is key for me. Scripture: Isaiah 26:3 and Colossians 1:17. Prayer, prayer and prayer. If I’m right in the thick of the anxiety they are usually short and sweet! Can’t manage much more. Or I pray the bible verses about peace.

  2. Sarah, Philippians 4 is a favorite of mine. I was exposed to black mold last summer that has caused me health problems. God used it to give me compassion for people who are going through weakness. I was doing all I knew and couldn’t get better. Thankfully, I am now on the mend. I’m grateful God used my challenge for good. I’m glad God met you in yours and that you are sharing your lessons. Beautiful photos.

    1. It is amazing what you can learn in the midst of a heath crisis, isn’t it? I am so sorry to hear about your exposure to black mold, that stuff is nasty! Yes, compassion is a beautiful word to describe that moment when you finally learn to extend grace to others because you have walked a step in their shoes. That is exactly how I feel about anxiety, thanks for giving me a beautiful word go along with that feeling. I pray you continue to heal and recover fully, blessings to you Debbie!

  3. What a thoughtful post, Sarah. 🙂 I struggle with fear and anxiety, and it’s something that I daily have to surrender to God. I wrote a post on it a few weeks ago on my blog, if you’re interested in reading. 🙂 So thankful that God is the Rock…the One that is unshakable, and we can run to Him when our hearts are anxious. Don’t know where I’d be without Him. Love Him. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Sarah. ((hug))

    1. I will definitely check it out, Brenda. God is the rock, that is such a wonderful vision of God to have when we are feeling anxious. Anxiety causes us to feel out of control, yet when we hold onto the rock we are anchored and able to survive the storm.

  4. Wow. This is a great article! I have never been one to be too anxious, but the last few years I feel like I have become more so. I went on a hike with my husband and son a few months ago and was so terrified when we were at the top that something was going to happen..I couldn’t even enjoy it.

    I am going to keep these verses in mind. I already have some memorized but I think I need to memorize the others.

    1. Girding ourselves with the truth is so very important! When we write truth on our hearts, we are equipping ourselves for the unknown. Anxiety strikes at the oddest times, doesn’t it?

  5. While I do not suffer from anxiety attacks, I can easily find myself worrying when life throws a curve ball. And, as you wrote, I think for me, I tend to worry more when I get my FOCUS off Jesus. I forget to look for His face in the midst of my situation. I look at the storm raging around me, the waves crashing at my feet, and I just simply lose focus. Once I get my attention back on Him, it seems the fear falls away and the faith and prayer are easier than when I look inward to myself. Thanks so much for this reminder. #livefree #lookinguplinkup

    1. It seems that the older I get, the more aware I am of how terribly wrong things are in the world. There is so much pain and evil everywhere I look, and I have to be diligent to guard my heart and mind from the media and other sources. I don’t want to crawl into a hole and hide from the truth, but I also don’t want to become consumed by it all. I have seen my tendency towards anxious thoughts increase as I have become more informed, and I think you are so right that it is our FOCUS that must change. When we look to God first and use His truth as our guide, we have more peace and assurance in the midst of it all. Thank you for adding to the conversation today, Stephanie.

  6. I battle with depression/anxiety daily. It is a very real and difficult struggle. I will write down the bible verses everyone has shared and try to use them when needed. In my short journey into the bible, so far my favorite verse I use the most is Deuteronomy 31:6. When the depression/anxiety is at its strongest, it makes me feel like I am all alone. This verse reminds me that no matter what…I am never alone. God has been and always will be with me. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thomas, my heart goes out to you! Thank you for sharing your story and your wisdom with us. Love this verse!

      “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6

      You are right, we are never truly alone but often feel as though we are.

      Keep digging into the Bible, as there is so much HOPE in there for everyone who struggles with anxiety and depression.

  7. Thanks for your words of wisdom, Sarah. I like to combine exercise with my prayer, and it’s a great remedy for anxiety. Exercise, just something as simple as walking, is good for relieving the physical stress in our bodies. Bringing our worries to God in prayer is good biblical instruction for us spiritually and physically. Sometimes it takes a lot of walking and a lot of practice to leave our burdens at the feet of Jesus, but it’s definitely worthwhile.

    1. You are right, Rachel. There is so much research showing that exercise really can impact our state of mind. I never even thought of that while I was composing this article, so thank you so much for sharing!

      Here is a great article from the ADAAon the benefits of exercising as it relates to anxiety and depression.

      I also love the whole concept of “Prayer Walking” as shared by Janet McHenry in her book entitled “PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline.”

      There is nothing like combining physical exercise and prayer to clear your head and get your heart back on track!

    1. Yes, He is faithful even when we fail to trust Him…isn’t He? I love how our actions never change the character and love of God. Learning to trust is never easy, but so worth it! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Brianna.

  8. What a terrible ordeal to go through, but it will help you relate to others who suffer from anxiety. I work in rehab. I push my patients, asking them to push through the pain. When I suffered a rib injury and had to lean into a wall to get a decent deep breath, I suddenly remembered every patient with a rib fracture I had pushed to do 5 more reps. I have perspective. I have been there. You are in that place now. Thank you for sharing!

    1. When I told my high school mentor that I wanted to go into ministry, he gave me a warning. He simply stated that much would be asked of me, because in order to be able to truly minister to the hurting, I will have to learn how to hurt. God has promised to equip us for the calling he has given us, and sometimes the process of equipping is painful. But if it allows us to look on others with compassion and understanding, it will have all been worth it.

  9. This is such a great post! I’ve never dealt with anxiety attacks but have had many anxious times and thoughts in my life. Seems to happen more as I get older too. I’m sure it’s because I’m more aware of what all can happen but also when I take my focus off Jesus. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I think it is easy to become more prone to anxious thoughts and feelings the older and “more experienced” we are. My prayer has always been that as I age, I will also grow in wisdom and faith to be able to handle the storms of this life with perseverance. The most difficult part of it all is our “lack of sight.” We simply do not know what is around the next bend, and that uncertainty can be disarming to say the least. Focusing our eyes on Jesus is truly the only way to get through.

  10. I struggled with anxiety and panic attacks that grew more intense over about a 3 year period. I learned to use the Word of God as a sword to cut through the lies of the enemy. I printed off lists of verses about peace, God’s love for me, and healing. I read those lists aloud every night before going to bed. Those truths permeated my soul and changed me. It was a process, but it happened. I also chose to stand against the schemes of the devil. I called his lies what they were and replaced them with God’s truth. In moments of desperation, extreme anxiety, which usually hit in the middle of the night, I would read through Psalms out loud or have my husband read to me. Sometimes it took only a few psalms. Sometimes I got through almost all of them. But it worked! I have been free from the bondage of anxiety for about 3 years now! Those whom the Son has set free are free indeed! “Let us not grow weary of doing good (fighting for freedom), for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

    1. Thank you for taking the time to share your story here, Sarah. God has done such a wonderful thing in your life, and I am confident that your words will be used to bless and encourage someone who is suffering with anxiety today. There is so much hope and truth in your words, I pray that God will give you many opportunities to use your story to build up and edify His body.

  11. Powerful and yet peace giving post Sarah! Philippians 4 has become a favorite chapter of mine. I was just referencing it last night while writing. I am so thankful that God offers us a peace like none other. I have struggled with anxiety but nothing like the days and weeks in the hospital after the stroke. It was there in that “valley of the shadow of death”that it became crystal clear that he is watching over and wants me to trust him. Thanks for sharing your experience and what God put on your heart. Truly a blessing. Have a great weekend and God bless!

    1. It is amazing how walking through the valley with Him strengthens our faith in a way we never could have experienced on the mountaintop. I look forward to reading what you wrote about Philippians, I would love to see that powerful passage of scripture through your eyes.

    1. Tasia, I have truly enjoyed working my writing muscles here at SarahKoontz.com. It is really fun to have both a health blog and a faith blog, but a lot of work! I hope you are well, thank you for stopping by.

  12. The point of anxiety indicating a lack of trust in God is so true. I know I often want to justify anxiety as “the situation”, but it really is lack of understanding of sovereignty and trust. So hard, though.

    1. We all have anxious moments, where we make the mistake is allowing anxiety to become a ruling emotion or chronic condition. God has so much more for us, but I know how hard it can be to trust Him with the things we hold most dear. I often find the easiest way to surrender is one tiny little thing at a time, learning to trust Him every step of the way. I believe He is faithful to honor even the smallest of steps in His direction!

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Melanie. I am finding my way to the words God has put on my heart. Hoping to express His truth and glorify His name with each and every one of them. I will definitely follow your board on Pinterest, and look forward to connecting with you through your writing ministry also!

  13. Anxiety can paralyse you but it is wonderful that you have been able to overcome it. Thank you for sharing your experience with others and encouraging them. #Coffee&Conversation

  14. My daughter suffered from anxiety attacks growing up, so I know how invasive they can be. I recently read a book that I think will help her–it’s called The Hidden Half of the Gospel. You might want to get ahold of it :).

    1. Thank you Anita, it is always nice to have resources to reach for when anxiety strikes! I appreciate what you have added to our conversation on the topic, and will definitely check out the book you mentioned.

  15. There’s so much power in the truths you’ve shared here, Sarah. So often Christians claim Christ’s atonement which frees us from the penalty of sin in eternity, but we fail to claim the victory His blood purchased for our everyday lives. You’ve shared so bravely and transparently, and I know your words are being used by your Savior. Thank you for linking with us at Grace & Truth!

    1. Jennifer, I couldn’t agree with you more! As believers, we stop too soon. We accept His saving grace, but not His strength for today! I am so glad to hear that message of God’s ability to work in our daily life came through to you as you read this piece. I am learning the art of vulnerability and telling stories only I can tell. I appreciate your kind words! It is apparent to me we share a similar calling focused on discipleship of the Saints! Blessings to you.

  16. Anxiety truly presents a common struggle for many of us. Scripture can offer our minds the finger holds and toe ledges we need to hang on. You’ve listed great references here. Thanks for sharing your heart, and may the Lord continue to bless your ministry of encouragement to women.

  17. Sarah! Can I ask, how did you find out that it carbon monoxide? I have been having similar symptoms with no answers for months now and I wonder if this may be it? We live in a small apartment with no range hood over the oven/burners.. Not sure if that could contribute? I would love to know anything that may help to confirm/rule this out! Thanks so much for your time! <3

    1. My mom read in a book that headaches could be caused by low-level gas leaks, so I called my gas company with the suspicion and they came and tested my house. When they did, they discovered the emissions coming from the water heater. Be warned, they will ask you to vacate the premises until they can arrive and test. Radon is also an issue if you live in a basement apartment. It costs to test for radon, but the gas company will test your house for problems for free. So start there! Best of luck.

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