Anxiety Attacks Don’t Exist (And Other Insider Information on Anxiety and Panic)

Anxiety Attacks Don’t Exist (And Other Insider Information on Anxiety and Panic)

“I’m having an anxiety attack!”

Have you ever heard those words from someone…maybe even coming out of your own mouth? I’ll share a mental health pro’s insider secret with you: Anxiety attacks don’t exist.

Let me clarify.

The term “anxiety attack” is not a clinical term. It is a term that someone came up with to describe an experience. You won’t find this term in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (the book that explains mental health diagnoses). Instead, you’ll find terms like anxiety disorder, panic attack, and panic disorder. Although many people use the term “anxiety attack” and “panic attack” interchangeably, they really aren’t the same thing.

But. I completely hear you when you cry out about that “anxiety attack”. Those moments of excessive worry, shortness of breath, changes in body temperature can make you feel like you’re going crazy.

Don’t worry – You’re not.

Listen, the National Institute of Health reports that over 18% of adults in American have an anxiety disorder. See? You are not alone. The ongoing symptoms of anxiety that include worrying about everything from family to finances, trouble with sleep, and irritability can all be a part of this type of disorder. But those feelings that I described a moment ago? The ones that include feeling like you’re going crazy? It’s more likely that those are panic attacks. And recurrent panic attacks with fear of having more may mean a panic disorder.

Here’s the thing: all of this is on a spectrum. A spectrum that includes worry, fear, anxiety, panic…and more. The symptoms and their impact vary from mild to serious, and there is great treatment available regardless of where you fall on these spectrums. You don’t have to suffer in silence.

Whether you have occasional panic attacks or anxiety…or if you suffer from an anxiety or panic disorder…there is hope. Whether you’re overly concerned about issues you know have little consequence…or if you are extremely worried about serious happenings in your life…there is hope. Whether you understand what is going on inside of you…or if you really have no clue why you feel like you’re losing it…there is hope.

You see, friends, there is always hope.

If you are struggling with anxiety or panic, you can learn more and find help here:

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Three Ways to Say Bye to the Whole “Busy Bee” Thing

Three Ways to Say Bye to the Whole “Busy Bee” Thing

“You’re no busier than anyone else.” These words weren’t said to me, but I certainly agree with them. After all, in today’s culture, we’re all busy.

It’s funny…so many inventions were created to save people time and yet we easily fill that “extra” time up. Think about it: You got a crockpot to reduce the time you spend on meal prep. Now, in the time you used to spend cooking, you’re on Pinterest…looking up crockpot recipes. While you need to spend some time on this (or, hello, the crockpot was a waste of money), is it possible you’re spending a tad too many minutes on the time vampire that is Pinterest?

Ok, maybe it’s not crock pot and social media for you, but is there something else that is sucking you dry? Do you look up from whatever that is to realize you’ve wasted your morning, afternoon, or evening on one thing when you really needed to be focused on another? Perhaps you didn’t have anything else you had to do, but that time could have been better spent on something else…Bible reading, a chat with a friend, visiting your mother, exercise (ahem). You know what you’re missing out on because you are Just. So. Busy.

Maybe you’re not even wasting time. You could be rushing your rear end off trying to get as much done as possible. You have a tough time saying no…it might be that everything you’re saying “yes” to is too good to give up. Sigh. I can relate. But I’ve also been asked how I accomplish so much while staying sane. While I cannot confirm or deny the sanity part, I can offer a few tips to help us slow our roll (yeah, I said it) and say bye to the whole busy bee thing.

Here are three ideas:

1) Say No. Listen, you have to stop saying yes to everything. You don’t have to take on one more job or ministry opportunity. You don’t have to go to every fundraiser or lunch you’re invited to. You don’t have to be involved in every club or organization. You don’t (and, really, can’t) have dozens of friends that you keep in close touch with. Instead, reserve your “yes” for the things that are best for you and your family. It will be hard to say no to some things you want to say yes to. Heck, it’s hard to say no to things you want to say no to! But, it is a necessity in order to help you focus on the things that really matter and maintain margin in your life.

2) Keep a Schedule. I know you like your electronics. I do too. But, I keep a hard copy of a calendar and to-do list. Why? Because it works for me. I like to see and touch my planner, and I carry it with me everywhere. Seriously, I would not know what to do without it. And I love checking off what I have accomplished! That being said, do what works for you…but no matter what, keep a schedule. In other words, maintain a list of your to-do items. It will help you to stay organized, get things accomplished, and visually keep track of your commitments. Seeing everything in black and white (or whatever color ink you’re using) may help you realize you are over committed, and help you notice what you need to say no to.

3) Prioritize. You’re saying no and you are using a to-do list, but how will you decide what to do first? This is where prioritization comes in. I keep a daily to-do list and a monthly to-do list. I decide what to do based on deadlines and needs. For example, if I need to prepare a devotional for November 12, plan a presentation for November 19, and book a hotel for an after Thanksgiving trip, I am going to book the hotel first (months in advance) because that is the pressing need. Then, I am going to work on the devotional and presentation at least a month in advance. I may start both of them by creating outlines, but will make sure I fine tune the one that comes first in the month and then focus on the one that comes later. It seems obvious, but I have known people who do not prioritize, and wind up not getting everything done when it should be leading to less than stellar work and stays in roach motels.

It’s that simple. Ha! Always easier said (or written) than done. I’m committed though. I want more quality time with my loved ones. I want the time I spend on everything I do to be time well spent. I want to stay sane. How about you? Are you committed? If so, comment and share one thing you will do (either in the list above or anything else you can think of) to say bye to the whole busy bee thing. Blessings in the journey!

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Are we REALLY Pro-Life?

Are we REALLY Pro-Life?

As I scroll through my Twitter feed, one particular meme gives me pause. On the left side is a pregnant woman with three pro-lifers encouraging her to give her baby life. On the right side is the woman holding her baby with those same three people telling her to get out of public housing, stop using food stamps, and just get a job. While the narrative that all (or even many) pro-lifers act this way is simply not true, it leads me to the question:

Are we really pro-life? Because, if we are, we should be pro ALL life.

This is not about the welfare debate. Instead, this is about caring about the unborn once they are actually born. And I don’t just mean the babies. When there are 100,000 American children in foster care waiting to be adopted, how can we say we are pro-life? I am well aware that it is much easier to place an infant and that for every infant placed for adoption, up to three dozen families are waiting for one. I am well aware that ANY woman in America in a crisis pregnancy can find a forever family for her child by the time you’re done reading this article. I am 100% pro-life, and in the infant adoption process myself, so I get all that. Yet, I am becoming more and more aware that if I am going to be pro-life, I have to be pro ALL life. I have to be for the unborn, the infants, the children, the adolescents, the young adults, the middle adults, and the elderly.

There are different methods and lots of disagreements about the best way to demonstrate support for all life, and setting government assistance aside for the the sake of this particular article (and argument), I want to offer four practical ideas for helping people throughout the life span after they are born:

1) Foster or adopt a child through the foster care system…or support someone who is. There was an article recently that said that if one family out of every three churches in America adopts a foster child, the foster care system would cease to exist. What would happen if one family adopted and the members of those three churches rallied behind that family making sure their needs are met i.e. providing emotion support, taking meals, offering to baby-sit, etc. Listen, I am a social worker and counselor, and know the challenges that these precious children face as a result of (usually) being removed from a neglected or abusive home. But they are worth it. So, foster, adopt, or support someone who is.
2) Sponsor a child/family. There are many reputable organizations such as Food for the Hungry and Compassion International that help prevent orphans by providing for needs of children and their families in third world countries. Through a nominal monthly donation, you can help keep families together, preventing children from becoming orphans around the world. You can do this same thing on your own for a single mother/father family you know. Ensure they have clothes, food, heat/air. Be there to show them you don’t only care about them when their children are in the womb, but that you care about the entire family unit throughout every phase of life.
3) Mentor teens and young adults. If you really don’t want to see people on government assistant programs, help them along the way. Mentor an at risk teen, which helps to reduce them turning to unhealthy relationships or activities. Help a student through their trade school or college program so that they don’t drop out due to lack of income. Don’t turn your back on people of this age range, saying they should have it all together. Instead, help them get it all together!
4) Be there for the elderly. The elderly among us are to be revered, but we tend to toss them aside. Have you walked into a nursing home recently? If not, you should…go and see how even in the best of facilities, those who have poured so much into all of us are left alone and lonely. Visit them. Call them. Send them cards. There are so many ways to encourage them and to demonstrate that their lives have value too. Research shows that friendships help reduce serious issues such as dementia. Let’s be friends with those who raised us, mentored us, and loved us.

If you say you are pro-life, are you willing to be pro ALL life? If so, I hope you will follow through with one or all of these suggestions.

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