Anxiety has become the number one mental health issue in North America. It’s estimated that one third of North American adults experience issues from anxiety. A total of 41% of all employees, from a range of industries, reported high levels of anxiety in their workplace.More then half of all college students sought help for their anxiety. Also, a total of 65% of North American’s take prescription medications daily basis, while a total of 43% take mood altering prescriptions on a regular basis. (footnote 1)Anxiety has become the number one mental health issue in North America. It's estimated that one third of the North American adults experience issues from anxiety. Click To Tweet
Anxiety comes mainly from three sources.
1. Demands of service. Jesus felt power leave Him when someone touched Him (Mark 5:30).
2. Demise of sin. Samson had power depart from him when he committed sin (Judges 16:20).
3. Devise of satan. King Saul experienced intense stress and turmoil when demons would come upon him. (1 Samuel 16:14).
It’s God’s will for us to live in rest. God rested after 6 days of creation and commanded us to do the same (Genesis 2:2-3). Jesus promises to give rest to those who will come and learn from Him (Matthew 11:28-30). When we receive God’s amazing grace we consequently enter into God’s wonderful rest (Hebrews 4:9:11).Scripture makes it very clear by declaring, “[to] not be anxious about anything,” and “don’t worry about your life” (Philippines 4:6-7, Matthew 6:25). So, how do we go about living a stress free life?
1. Anchor your identity in Christ. The foolish man built his house on the sand, but the wise man built his house on the rock (Matthew 7:24-27). When the storm came, the house built on the sand experienced a great fall. There are many times our emotional and mental fall is a direct result of us basing our identity on our work, ministry, appearance, accomplishments, or people’s opinion of us.Who you are comes from Whose you are Click To Tweet
When John the Baptist was at the peak of his ministry in Israel, they asked him, “Who are you?” He answered that he was a prophet, not the Messiah, but he was a voice. In fact, he quoted the prophet Isaiah (John 1:22-23). However, John did not base his identity on his ministry or success. When his ministry fell apart and was sentenced to jail, John did not lose his identity. When Jesus spoke of John, he did not say John was a failure but that he was the greatest prophet ever born (Matthew 11:11).
If you want to beat depression and anxiety, then do not let your identity come from your title, people’s opinion of you, or your success or failure. Anchor your foundation on the solid rock which will withstand all the storms and floods of life. God said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14). When His presence is with you and you base who you are on Him – He will give you REST!Your identity is in Christ, not in your crisis. Click To Tweet
2. Keep clear conscience. “Having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck” (1 Timothy 1:19). If you ignore your conscience, it will shipwreck your faith. When your faith is gone, then it’s only a matter of time before your inner world becomes shattered.A violated conscience shipwrecks your faith; and when you lose your faith, you get restlessness. Click To Tweet
Samson lost his strength when he compromised his conscience. So many people are restless because of sin. The best pillow you can sleep on is a clear conscience. Without peace of conscience it is impossible to live in rest and peace. He that loses his conscience has nothing left that is worth keeping.
Harboring bitterness, living with secret sins, cutting corners, living in compromise and trying to come as close as possible to sin without going to hell–all this will certainly make you restless. Sin will wear you out. It’s a heavy burden. It will also hurt you emotionally and mentally more than you can imagine.
3. Avoid the comparison trap. We live in a day of social media where people post their best version of themselves. Everyone is happy. Everyone’s life is perfect. However, social media is a lie. No one posts their struggles. No one uploads their challenges. No one shares their weaknesses. When you compare your reality with someone’s best highlights, it is certain you will be discouraged and despise your life.Comparing leads to coveting; and coveting leads to complaining. Complaining then kills creativity and invites serpents to inject their poison in our souls. Click To Tweet
One of the commands of God is to “not covet” Exodus 20:17. Instead of coveting, we are called to count our blessings. Instead of looking at the neighbors grass, which looks greener than our own, we are called to water our own yard. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; DO NOT FRET WHEN PEOPLE SUCCEED IN THEIR WAYS…” (Psalm 37:7). Don’t let someone’s success bring you stress. Be still before God. Wait for His timing. Mind your own business. Celebrate small victories.
When God was creating the earth, He did not compare the beauty of heaven with the mess that was currently on the earth. Instead, He would look at what he had done and say, “It is good”. However, there was so much more to be done–there was still an immense mess all around. God did not compare. God did not complain. God, however, did count the blessings.
I have a car and a moped. It will be foolish for me to compare my moped to my car. The designers and engineers of both these motorized vehicles put different abilities and specification on each one of them. They have to perform according to their intended purpose; and not to be compared to each other. God will not compare you to another person when you’re standing before the judgment seat of Christ. However, we will be judged for our works; and not even for our results, but for what we did with what we had.Be the best version of yourself the world has ever seen. Click To Tweet
4. Honor the Sabbath. It’s the 4th commandment to work six days and rest on the seventh (Exodus 20:8-11). This commandment is not to make us more religious, but to give us balance and rest. Jesus said that sabbath was made for man (Mark 2:27). Taking a day off is for our benefit, not God’s.You will either rest from fatigue or get arrested by fatigue. Click To Tweet
There are those who think that there is too much to do; and that they cannot afford to take a day off. A recent story in the Harvard business review detailed a study of the benefits of rest. The study showed that professionals who took a regular planned day off accomplished a lot more than those who did not. We often liken the principle of rest with the principle of tithing. As pastors we know that when people tithe, the remaining 90% of their income stretches further than the full un-tithed 100% income would. In like manner, when you commit to taking a day to rest and recharge; then you will accomplish a lot more on the other six days of the week then if you had work all seven. I heard Pastor Robbert Morris mentioned how the fast food restaurant Chick-Fil-A takes Sunday off, most fast food restaurants make their most money on Sundays. Sunday is the busiest time for fast food businesses. On average fast food restaurant makes around 1 million dollars a year. Chil-Fil-A makes 5 million a year.
So, block a day on your calendar every week. This may be the most important single thing you do. If you don’t make your Sabbath a part of your schedule, it will get crowded out by other, more urgent things. Decide which day will be your Sabbath and stick to it no matter what. Inform your family of your plan to take the weekly Sabbath. Let them hold you accountable for keeping your commitment. Guard your Sabbath as though your life depends on it because it does. Don’t let anything usurp your day of rest.
5. Regularly exercise. A study by Dr Andrea Dunn found that patients who did the equivalent of 35 minutes of walking six days a week experienced a reduction in their level of depression by 47%. This study, conducted at the Cooper Research Institute in Dallas, Texas, shows that as little as three hours of regular exercise a week reduces the symptoms of mild to moderate depression as effectively as Prozac and other antidepressants. In addition, the proven benefits of exercise in treating or preventing depression extend to even moderate physical activity such as gardening, walking the dog, or cleaning your house. (footnote 2)Exercise helps beat depression, it's not just a theory – it's a scientific fact. Click To Tweet
The benefits of exercise are the following: 1) weight control, 2) boosts brainpower, 3) melts away stress, 4) gives energy, 5) fights off sickness, 6) creates a stronger heart, 7) reduces biomarkers of aging, and 8) improves eye sight. It only takes 10 minutes a day of exercise to make a difference.
Crank up the stereo and dance in your living room. Sign up for swing dancing or ballroom-dancing lessons. Walk to the park with your kids or a neighbor you’d like to catch up with. Jump rope or play hopscotch. Spin a hula hoop. Play water volleyball. Bike to work. Jump on a trampoline. Go for a hike. Have more sex. A European study found that men who had sex less than once a month were twice as likely to die in a 10-year follow-up period as those who had sex at least twice a week.
6. Seek community. After creating this world, God said that there was only one thing that was not good. The only bad thing God saw was when Adam was alone. (Genesis 2:18). Many people could fix their depression by taking two vital actins. The first action is to overcome isolation and the second action is to get rid of toxic people that surround you. Isolation makes you feel like “people are the problem”.When you live in isolation and loneliness your world dies before you do.
Remaining in isolation makes you an easy target. In warfare, isolation often precedes defeat. Isolation develops awkwardness in your gestures and interpersonal skills; and it leads to more isolation. No hunter can fix his aim on swift moving pack or a herd of animals. The enemy wants to isolate you from your allies.Snowflakes are small and fragile, but when they all come together, they will stop traffic. When we are in a community, we become unstoppable. Click To Tweet
Snowflakes are small and fragile but when they all come together, they stop traffic, close down schools, and even flip large vehicles on the road. Isolation feeds doubt, fear, and depression. Being in a community of friends and family gets you out of that dark cloud. Remember, two are better than one. It’s like lifting a heavy object, if you get more people then you can lift it; otherwise on your own you will only hurt yourself. Avoiding community will indeed hurt your soul.
Start attending church service, join a small group, spend time with your family, cultivate closeness with your friends, and spend less time on social media with your “virtual friends.” Everyone needs a mentor but more essential than that is that everyone needs friends. Even Jesus had friends who were not His disciples: Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Wooden ships can get you across the lake but friendSHIPS will get you across life without drowning.
7. Cut off toxic people. If you are in an emotional storm, you may have a Jonah in your boat. Perhaps you need to throw some people off your boat. Toxic people are those who are always negative, break you down, corrupt your values, and suffocate you emotionally. You always feel like your walking on egg shells when your around them; and they want manipulate and control you. If you got these folks in your boat, its time for them to be shown an exit.If you are in an emotional storm, it's time to throw these toxic people overboard. Click To Tweet
Even Jesus removed negative people out of the room before He prayed for the dead girl. Toxic people are emotional vampires and they suck the life of others. Bad company corrupts good habits (1 Corinthians 15:33). Let’s not forget, it was a “friend” that betrayed Jesus and set Him up to be crucified. Don’t let toxic people stay in your life, they will crucify your emotions.
Maybe you need to have a conversation with someone today and set up some boundaries. If you are in a very toxic relationship, perhaps the only solution is to completely cut it off. If you are in an abusive relationship, perhaps the only solution is to get a restraining order and call the police. Remember, you will have no peace if Jonah stays in your boat; in other words if toxic people are allowed to remain in your life, you will forfeit peace.
If your depression or anxiety is due to something tragic or traumatic, I encourage you to seek professional help, medical attention, counseling, or inner healing. If it’s a generational issue and you don’t know why it comes, you might need spiritual deliverance. Spiritual problems can be removed by spiritual means.
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