The last post I wrote was Fringing Fear…talking about how fear and anxiety always seem to be licking at my heels. During our engagement season, my fear was probably the worst it had been in a long time. Since that time I couldn’t get on a plane.
I’ve also written often that I have been in counseling for the better part of the last two years. It has been the best investment and decision I have ever made because here’s what I know to be true…
We are ALL broken people with some stuff we have to work through.
Counseling does not make you weak, it makes you strong.
Counseling has made me stronger because my personality is one that is going to worry and work myself into a ball of stress if I don’t learn to process things in a healthy way.
Telling me not to think so much is like telling me to stop breathing. It doesn’t work.
But HOW I think can change, and that is what a large part of my counseling journey has been about. Since my brain experienced trauma at the age of 8 (fundamental wiring years for the brain) I have having to work very consciously and hard at rewiring my brain and the way I respond to things. Things being someone else’s tragedy, my own grief, uncertainty, change, etc.
So since fear is something many people deal with, I have put together some of the tools I use when I am fearful and when I need to stop my negative thinking in its tracks. The purpose of sharing these tools is not just so that you can use them (please feel free to!) but so that it might help you identify the things that help you reverse your fear and stop it from spiraling out of control. For me, I am a thinker. So usually when I am experiencing fear or anxiety I have to DO something to get my mind off of what I was thinking about that was causing my fear in the first place.
So here’s my list friends, I hope it’s helpful for you. Feel free to leave a comment below of your favorite fear fighter!
In December of 2016 I couldn’t get on a plane because of my fear. I started worrying about “what if I die” and it spiraled out of control from there. I have flown a handful of times since then, but I created this playlist of my favorite songs that ease my mind, remind me fear is a liar, and that won’t temp me with other thoughts. There are songs that can trigger my fear or make me think negatively, so this playlist has been insanely helpful when I am waiting to get on a plane, driving in the car (where I probably do my most thinking) or getting ready in the morning. The three songs I listen to on repeat when I am extremely fearful is Fear Not by Kristene Dimarco, Fear by Ben Rector, or I will listen to Christy Nockels Be Held album.
2. Books, Books, Books.
I am very heady. You can take that as I’m inside my own head a lot, I think too much, I worry about everything. It’s all true. So reading for me is a way to get my head to come back to reality. However, what I choose to put into my head when I am fearful really matters. Some of my favorite books are…
Freefall to Fly and You Are Free by Rebekah Lyons
A Million Miles In A Thousand Years by Donald Miller
Love Does or Everybody Always by Bob Goff
Remember God by Annie F. Downs
Switch On Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf (this one is very practical, but I love it and it’s my most recent read because it is teaching all about the alignment of scripture and science and how our thought life can be the most important thing for our health!)
Along with reading, I personally believe that prayer, journaling and reading the Bible are also important and insanely helpful. For me, in this season, it is healthy for me to be guided to scripture through some of these books (Switch On Your Brain does a GREAT job of this!) instead of me opening to the book of Job. Don’t get me wrong, I love Job and I think it’s important, but when I am anxious, or when I’m on the verge of a panic attack, Job will be the last straw. Romans 12:2 (and really more all throughout Romans) helps to encourage me that I do have control over my thoughts, and it reminds me of the mind God gave me. One of peace. One of love.
Breathing, especially deep breathing, is really good for you and it helps you focus your mind and stay present on your breath. What’s happening in this moment. I use the Headspace App to help me with those guided mediations because without that, I would probably start thinking about something else!
For some reason, listening to someone else’s conversations is soothing to me. Again, it matters what you’re listening to. True crime, really deep theology…probably not the best for me when my chest is starting to get tight. I love Annie F. Downs That Sounds Fun Podcast and how she has a variety of artists and authors on there for great conversations. My favorites are Bob Goff, Gina Claire Mason, and Gina Claire and Mary Kate. Bob is a joy always. Gina Claire and Mary Kate played opposite each other in the Broadway touring cast of Wicked, and I just love these conversations because they are light, funny and remind me of the beauty and simplicity of life that I can enjoy.
Sometimes the best thing that I can do for myself to stop overthinking so much is to move. That means go take a yoga class, go to the gym and put on the 2000s hits radio, or even just go for a walk with someone. Physical activity is good for our brains, it helps us to release endorphins, and while you are exercising thank your body for the ability to move…even if it’s just a walk to the mailbox.
There ya go, friends! These are some of my favorite tools that I use when I am facing fear and anxiety. I hope this is helpful for you and I hope that you are on your way to your own personal journey of fighting fear…I would love to hear what helps you, or if you would like to hear more of the techniques I’ve learned in counseling such as grounding techniques and journaling prompts.
Just remember, fear is a liar…