Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 1Corinthians 6:19
Having laid the foundation regarding the antidote to fear in my previous post, I want to shift gears and focus on some of the things we can do to combat fear and anxiety in our physical bodies. While our spiritual lives are of utmost importance, God also places a high value on our physical lives as well, as seen in the verse above referring to our bodies as the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” Psalm 139 also emphasizes the value of our bodies where God tells us we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” as He was knitting us together in our mother’s womb. While fear and anxiety can be classified as more mental and emotional issues, the well-being of our physical bodies plays an important role in overcoming and being free from the bondage of anxiety.
My anxiety was so bad at one point, I tried everything…ANYTHING to try and reign it in! Even….EXERCISE AND EATING HEALTHY!!! Yeah, it was that bad! But as much as I hate to admit it, the “experts” are correct in stressing the importance of “exercise and diet” not just for our physical health but also in our mental and emotional health as well. I personally learned exercise was one of the best things I could do in combating my anxiety. Anxiety creates a lot of pent up energy and exercise is a great release. There are many ways and means to get exercise. No matter what your age or physical limitations, you can find something to do, even while sitting in a chair. One of the best forms of exercise is simply walking. Right now, getting outside and walking and getting some fresh air is not only good for our anxiety levels but for our very sanity! If possible, set a time each day for some extended exercise, but also know that when you sense anxiety rearing its ugly head, a short brisk walk even around your house or up and down some stairs can help in the moment. Anything to release the energy. And whatever your preferred method of exercise, let’s throw in some good praise and worship music or speak out loud Bible verses, promises of God or declarations of truth as to who you are and what you have as a child of God while you are walking or working out, giving anxiety a double punch. (I’ll address the use of music, truth and such in a later post.)
The “experts” are also correct in the affect our diet has on our overall health, again, not just physically but also on our mental and emotional well-being. There are two primary things to consider regarding our eating habits as we deal with troublesome anxiety. First, of course, is a healthy, well-balanced diet of protein, fruits and veggies and lots of water. Good ol’ common sense in what we are putting into our bodies. For whatever reason, when we are anxious and eating to “feed” the anxiety, we are most likely going to go for the carbs, especially sugar. Carbs just make us “feel better” in the moment, soothing our anxiety but the relief is only temporary. Carbs and sugars can really act like a “drug” in that we turn to it to soothe and calm whatever we are feeling. The truth is, for many of us (myself included), food is our “drug” of choice when it comes to self-medicating. We justify it with the fact “Well, I’ve gotta eat!” That brings me to the second way our eating habits are connected to our anxiety: the AMOUNT of food we eat. Of course, if we are going to overeat, we are most likely to overindulge in junk food but we can even over do it with more healthy choices, which helps us to better justify it. “At least it’s healthy!” So, bottom line with our eating habits in general and in connection with anxiety: healthy choices in moderation.
I’m sure there has been some heavy sighs, a fair amount of eye rolling and more than a few have uttered and mumbled a few comments along the way! I know this isn’t easy. Trust me! I had my own fair share of mumbling and grumbling! But, also trust me when I say it really does work! And I’ll let you in on a little secret…anxiety is very much rooted in and around “control” and is most likely to rage when we feel out of control. So, feed your need to be in control but direct it towards something you can actually take charge of—your own physical body. Take control and develop a new routine that includes daily exercise and a schedule allows for a physical release of some sort when anxiety gets stirred up in the course of your day. Grab hold of control and begin educating your self and developing healthier eating habits, both what you are eating and also how much. The choice is up to you. You can focus your energies and efforts on the anxiety and fear itself, which is seldom, if ever, helpful! Or you can focus on some things you can control. I don’t think you will regret it and you might be like me and find out just how much it really works!