I remember my first panic attack.
I had a terrible experience and after a long day of trying to process all my emotions, I wanted to sleep it off and forget about what happened.
As I was lying on my bed, I started having this strange feeling. I wasn't sure what it was but it grew louder and louder; my heart pounded stronger and stronger. I was scared and I couldn't breathe properly.
Anxiety is not something easily controlled. It could come and go like waves. Sometimes a big tsunami hits you.
We can't decide when anxiety hits us but the Bible gives us practical advice on every day practices to persevere despite the pain.
1. Cast all your anxieties on Jesus
"Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you" (1 Peter chapter 5, verse 7).
Does anyone care when we're experiencing a panic attack or when we don't even know if we can make it past tomorrow?
Someone with infinite knowledge, power and love cares about everything that goes on in your life. Tell Jesus about how you're feeling or what's going on in your mind. Write it down if it helps.
Jesus has time for all the big and little things that you're worried about right now.
2. Lean on God
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding" (Proverbs chapter 3, verse 5).
When we look at our problems or the problems in this world from our own perspective, it can be quite overwhelming. We are finite beings staring up at the enormity of deadlines, health crises, or struggling with our children. From the bottom looking up, an enormous mountain looks like an impossible task to conquer, but from the top looking down, we get a completely different view.
God is the only person we can lean on because he's the only one who can give us perspective. God has already shown us the blessings and joy that awaits us in heaven. He has also shown us what we should value most in this life - cultivating a relationship with him and loving those around us to the best of our ability.
3. Pray unceasingly
"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 chapter 4, verses 6-7).
Prayer instils peace. It sounds illogical because when we get anxious, we want to find ways to fix our problems or worries. But often, there is no 'fix' to our problems - at least not in the immediate moment. This worsens our anxiety because we desperately want to fix something to feel less anxious, but often we feel powerless to fix anything, which makes us more anxious.
God reminds us to first and foremost: Pray. Prayer seems like a passive act but actually, it's very active. When we pray, we're actively talking to God and seeking advice from him. We actively wait patiently for him to act and open doors for us. We actively anticipate where our life is moving towards.
When we pray, we need to learn to listen. It's already hard enough to truly listen to someone who speaks audibly to us. It's a real discipline to learn the art of listening to God who works quietly behind the scenes. But if you have faith and learn to trust God, over time, he will reveal his plans for you.
Anxiety drops us in a never-ending spiral, moving us nowhere, but prayer focuses our attention on God who wants to lead us back into his loving arms.
Rachel is a pastor, preacher and writer. Based in Sydney, she’s a fan of literature, sport and the arts. Check out her website rachellhli.wordpress.com