You know that feeling? Heart pounding. Breathing heavily. Sweaty palms or jitters. Fear knows exactly how to hijack our minds and bodies. And the more we try to hide it, the more it seems to rear its head.
Just like anger, fear can accelerate quickly, feeling like we have little control over what happens next. Before you know it – panic starts to settle in and make itself comfortable.
There’s a reason that this past year, the words “panic attack” have been searched on Google more than in last 16 years. We’ve been through a global pandemic, racial injustice, divided politics in America, and countless other losses over our daily life. If there was any time to panic, 2020 was the time, right?
I’m still personally recovering from the effects of 2020. Perhaps you are too.
Faith over fear, right? Such a common, cliche phrase. I must admit that I love the encouragement, but I also wince a little bit because it sounds like an easy thing to do: choosing faith over debilitating fear and anxiety. I know we do have a choice, but it seems near impossible when we’re in those intense moments of fear.
Did you know that we are told to ‘fear not’ or ‘do not be afraid’ 365 times in the Bible? That’s a crazy amount of repetition, but I believe it proves an important point: God knows this world is difficult, unstable, insecure, and divided. He knows that how difficult it is to choose faith over fear, so He makes sure it’s repeated hundreds of times.
The biggest thing I’ve learned when it comes to fear is that it’s much easier to stop it before it takes up space in your mind, gaining more power, and transforming into panic.
Here’s a few tips that I’ve learned of how to tap into your faith when fear strikes…
Surrender it all to your Creator! Start right away when you wake up in the morning hours. Anxiety and fear can sink into our brains at night and it often intensifies into the morning. At least that is my personal experience (for you it might be different). Give it all to God. Every single thing on your mind that is crippling you. This might look like you setting a reminder on your phone each morning and praying in bed. This might be getting up to grab a cup of coffee and jotting down a list of everything you can think of that’s making you feel anxious (I know it seems counterproductive but stay with me). Pray over this list, tell God exactly how you feel and then say “take this from me, God.” As you continue on through your day, surrender again as you need to when the feelings of fear creep back in.
Use the grounding technique and look around for reasons to be grateful. Start with your feet on the floor, sit up straight, and preform simple breathing techniques to calm yourself down. Look around and use your five senses to describe your surroundings and items in your environment. Then take it a step farther and think about why you’re grateful for each item. I say to myself, “I smell hot coffee and it smells delicious. I’m grateful for that morning cup of coffee each day. I hear my kids playing nicely in the next room. I’m grateful for those moments where my kids share and play well with each other.” Keep going until you feel more calm and grateful; consequently, you feel less anxious.
Dive into God’s Word, which is the antithesis to fear. Read the Bible daily and start highlighting sections that bring comfort to you, so that day after day you will know where to turn when you feel fearful. God’s words can feel like honey to the soul, sweet and nurturing. He knows exactly what we need when we need it, so pray that He will lead you to where you need to go. If you need a quick and easy way to read Bible verses that address fear, there are tons of printouts you can put on your refrigerator.
Talk back to that little voice in your head. Your mind says, “what IF________ happened.” You respond back by saying, “chances are that it probably won’t happen!” or “I’m not going to fixate on this because it’s not helpful.” Respond with phrases you find that are realistic but helpful to silence that voice inside of your mind. Because if we choose to believe all these fears (which many are irrational, right?) that pop into our heads, what would be our natural response? We would become more fearful and act according to those feelings. Learning to talk back to that voice will result in you gaining the power back from your anxiety. Your anxiety and fear don’t have power over you any longer.
”I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).