“Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
I must admit, sometimes just reading that passage above can bring on some anxiety for me.
Have no anxiety. But what if I do have anxiety? What if it will never go away?
Let your requests be known to God. But what if He doesn’t hear me? What if He doesn’t want to listen? What if I can’t turn everything over to God? How do I give up control to God entirely?
Since I was a little girl, I have dealt with anxiety and my anxiety was at its peak when my son was born. Thankfully, I have been able to rely on several “tools” to help minimize my anxiety.
The first line of defense in my anxiety is prayer. I pray all day, every day. From before sun up, to after sun down. I am also constantly praying the Holy Rosary. It is quite difficult for me in this stage of momlife to a toddler for me to pray the Rosary in one sitting, so I rely on praying “chunks” of it throughout the day. If I finish a Rosary before the day is up, I just start on the next day’s.
For me, praying throughout the day helps me feel more in control of my life and assures me that I am never alone in my anxieties or difficulties. I always turn to Jesus and through Our Lady for help.
I started going to a therapist a few months before my son turned one year old. While I wish that I had gone sooner to help ease my postpartum anxiety and subsequent lingering anxiety, I still go to this day, albeit it less often. Talking to someone outside of my sphere of family, friends and coworkers about “stuff” helps tremendously.
My second form of “therapy” that requires no health insurance nor copay is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The moment that I pour out my sins, ask for forgiveness, receive absolution and make my penance, I feel amazing. There are no words for the relief that overcomes me when I know that I have aired out all the sins weighing me down.
Not only is exercise good for the body, but it is good for the mind. When I first started going to therapy, I was adamant about not taking medication for my anxiety. (Please know that I do not think there is anything wrong with taking medication and I do not look down on anyone that does, I just didn’t want to.) I was fearful of side effects and wanted to try to battle the beast of anxiety on my own. My therapist advised me that if I were truly insistent on not taking medication, I would have to exercise.
Apparently, exercise can positively change certain chemicals in the body and can lessen anxiety and/or depression. As a self-imposed guinea pig, I can attest to this research that exercise helps with anxiety. You just have to make sure you exercise often and enough. Since I am a work-from-home mother to a toddler who is “go-go-go” (his words, not mine) from when he wakes up to when he sleeps, I wake up earlier to exercise. Waking up earlier also allows me time to pray…quietly.
Another suggestion that my therapist had was to consider supplements for anxiety. A friend suggested taking Ashwagandha root. After checking with my primary doctor, I decided to give it a try. The results were not immediate, but after almost a year of taking Ashwagandha, I have seen a considerable difference. Ashwagandha root can be used to reduce stress, anxiety, inflammation and cortisol levels and can also help improve sleep.
After extensive reading, I also began taking a daily probiotic to help increase the good bacteria in my gut. Hippocrates claimed that "all disease begins in the gut" and I read here that the “brain and the gastrointestinal [gut] system are intimately connected.”
Another supplement that I recently included in my daily regime is Vitamin D3, as my blood work showed that my current level just barely made the recommended level. Vitamin D3 has also been indirectly associated with mood disorders. For me, so far so good.
Calling For Backup
There are certain instances, however, when my anxiety does forcefully strike and I need some backup to push it back at bay. One instance where I need backup for my anxiety is sickness. Sickness is a trigger for my anxiety.
Sickness hit our house just last week in the form of the dreaded stomach flu. My son was sick on Sunday evening and then my husband and mother both began to get sick on Monday evening. Since everyone in my house had the stomach bug, I immediately felt anxiety come running like an Olympian sprinter.
Not only was I fearful that I would get sick and not be able to take care of them, but I was also anxious that they were sick to begin with.
Between the hours of 1:00 AM and 5:00 AM, I kept alternating between taking care of my husband in one bathroom, my mother in the other bathroom and praying that my son would not wake up nor get sick. Each time I would lay back down to try and sleep, I would hear someone needing help. Why does the stomach bug almost always start in the middle of the night? I figured that at least I could care for them and not have my son in the crossfire.
While I usually prayerfully run to the Blessed Mother and fling myself onto her for her intercession, this time, for some reason, I started to pray to Saint Monica. In my frenzy of caring for my husband and mother, I just went with it and asked for her intercession.
My prayer sounded like this “St. Monica, I know you don’t know me or my family yet, but I was hoping that you could please intercede for my family. My mother and husband are very sick and I pray that they recover and I am able to not get sick and continue having enough strength to take care of them and also that my son does not get sick either. Thank you. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Amen.”
Now I think that maybe the Blessed Mother (who knows I am needy) sent Saint Monica to me and was tending to my mother and husband instead. Maybe so, maybe not, but it is comforting to think of.
Praise God (and thank you Our Lady and St. Monica!) that I did not get sick, I was also able to take care of my husband and mother and my son did not get sick again.
Within a few (long) days, everyone was starting to get back to normal.
Of course, that is when I got sick, again. Thankfully, my sickness was not the stomach flu and instead just a nasty head cold. Unfortunately for me, this was the third head cold that I had gotten since Thanksgiving.
Since sickness often brings on anxiety for me, I needed backup.
What are my go-to backup tools for anxiety?
A full glass of water (dehydration can induce feelings of anxiety), a few drops of lavender oil, mind-numbingly horrible reality television (thou shalt not judge me), chamomile tea and of course, prayer.
Usually, I work like a madwoman during my son’s naptime, but for one day, I succumbed to the fact that I needed backup for my anxiety and spent the time smelling the lavender oil, watching stupid reality TV and praying during the commercials while sipping chamomile tea. I also fell asleep for a half hour and awoke to the sound of my son screeching “MAMA! MAMA! MAMA!” on the monitor.
At least we were on the mend.
Thank you again, Saint Monica. It was nice to meet you, although I wish it were under better circumstances and I appreciate any help you gave.
Do you have anxiety triggers? What are your go-to anxiety remedies? Please share on Facebook!
As always, thank you for reading. God bless you and may the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always (and St. Monica, too)!
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