Thursday, February 20, 2014

Anxiety: Another Calling

When I started this blog I wanted to be able to share what’s on my heart. I want it to be place where people can come to when they need encouragement. Today I will write about anxiety. I think that having anxiety is a huge epidemic in society today and I want to address it.
                  Before I started writing, I took a poll. I asked people from ages 10 to 60 about their experience with anxiety. The question was, “Would you say that you feel anxious about something right now? Whether it is a due date for an assignment, a bill you have to pay, a conversation you need to have with someone, or waiting for some big news? Answer yes or no.” Approximately 80% of people said yes, and 20% said no. The people that responded “no” said something along the lines of “No, but ask me again tomorrow!!” Some people just put a one-word answer, but 57% of the people that responded, went into detail about the anxiety they are experiencing. One of my close friends said, “Yes, yes, yes and yes. Honestly yes to all 4!” Another friend told me about the anxiety he was experiencing from searching for a job. He went into detail about the different things he was anxiously awaiting. I was expecting yes or no answers from my participants. Once I heard all of the detailed responses, I was immediately involved in their anxiety.
                  I think we are called to be in community with each other. We are called to be involved in each other’s anxiety. When I am feeling overwhelmed or anxious about something, I am in total need of a friend to encourage me. When a friend is feeling anxious about a test or an obstacle they are trying to overcome, it is our responsibility to pick them up and walk with them. I am realizing after my poll that my loved ones are just dying to share their worries with people. If you know a friend that is struggling, send them a note, shoot them a text, or buy them a coffee. This can make a big difference in that person’s attitude towards their anxiety.

                  Last semester, I was in my speech class complaining to my friend about my workload. She nodded her head in sympathy. She also said something that swirls around my head every time I am anxious about something. She said, “Just take a second and accept the fact that you have a crap load of homework.” So I did, and it set a fire under my butt. I passed the stage of feeling sorry for myself, and it was a great feeling. The next thing I would suggest is to breathe. Feeling anxious about a test? Stop. Take a deep breath and continue. Another thing that is helpful is to recall the last time you were overwhelmed and you succeeded. The paper will eventually be done. That bill will get paid. Remember what the finish line looks like.  The last (and in my opinion the most important thing) is hope. I have a hope in Jesus Christ. I believe, and know; that he wants nothing more than to be the one I come to when I am anxious. He wants me to trust in him and not to worry. Find peace in the midst of your anxiety. God created us to live in community with each other.

Peace can overcome!

"An Anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Proverbs 12:25

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Perks of being "Off"

This past summer I spent 9 weeks on Catalina Island working at a camp called Campus by the Sea. It was a great experience for me because I got to serve campers without any distractions and engage in a unique community. One of the rules that the staff abides by is being disconnected from social media. I have done this before during other mission trips and it was fairly easy. It was harder this time around because I was in a new place for an extended amount of time and I had to use a payphone to call home. At the end of the day all I wanted to do was call my mom and tell her what happened that day. Being off our phones actually forced our staff to find other ways to actually engage with one another (who would have thunk it?!) It was great. A couple of us would anxiously await the daily newspaper just to see what was going on across the sea. For those of you that know me know that my iPhone is an extension of my hand. You can always get a hold of me at any time of the day. It’s horrible! But I never wanted to do anything about it.
         In January I decided to take a couple days off from social media. For two days I removed Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat from my phone. I GOT SO MUCH DONE! I did not procrastinate on my homework, and I felt at peace even with my busy schedule. I didn’t feel the anxiety of not looking at my phone during a meal wondering what I was missing out on. It was like I was back on the island. I knew that I needed to make this a regular thing.
         I was with my friend Luke during one of those days and I was telling him how rewarding this small fast was. We both decided during the month of February that we were going to make this a regular thing. We settled on doing two days on, one day off and so on. So every three days we are “off”. It has been so rewarding. The night before each “off day” one of us will text each other saying “no social media tomorrow”. During those days it is great. We don’t have any distractions and we don’t feel the need to look at our phones every second. Some days are hard because we miss seeing what everyone is up to, but those days are the most peaceful. Not only is it effecting us during our off days but its effecting us on our “on” days too. I have noticed a slow decrease in the amount of times I check my phone. The number of tweets I post is slowly decreasing, and I no longer see every Instagram post in my feed. It causes me to not be up to date with all the gossip and gives me time to actually get stuff done!
         I want to encourage all my readers to join me on this journey. Maybe you are reading this and thinking how stinkin’ hard it will be for you. I promise you, it’s not as bad as you think. Start with just one day a week and then gradually add more off days. You will start to see the differences in your day with a small change. Now that I have started this pattern I am starting to look forward to my “off days” because I know it will be a good day with no distractions.