Anxiety and stress are to the heart as a wrecking ball is to a large concrete building. Sharp, fast, hits over a period of time to weaken the structure and function of the building and eventually bring it down completely.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”
Our body’s natural response to stress is to use catecholamines, like dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine to respond to a perceived threat. The result is an increased heart rate, constriction of blood vessels, increased blood pressure, increased release of insulin from the cells, and increased lipids into the blood—–all so we can fight or fly away from the perceived threat.
In a true emergency we need that natural response. In the course of everyday life–meeting deadlines, and keeping pace with a demanding work schedule increases the stress response. Moreover, pleasing a supervisor and sustaining an expected peak performance with fewer resources, occur hourly in the average American’s week.
Furthermore, the wrecking ball of hourly stressors, is the pressure of providing for his/her family; financially, physically, and emotionally. Stressors that stimulate the same emergency response meant for prolonging life in short term become fast frequent hits multiple times a day. Therefore, creating the opposite effect of attacking and shortening the life span.
Lifestyles are fast paced and that heart is pumping with all its ability to keep up with the continual demand. Do you think that creates anxious thoughts?
Psalm 139:23 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”
There is no doubt David, the author of this statement, knew some stress. He had an angry, demanding, boss. He served King Saul. David then faced Goliath. Also, the anointed one was on the run. David understood anxiety, hiding in caves. As his angry boss chases him, with an army! Saul’s mission; crazy jealousy and attempts to kill David several times.
David’s story begins in 2 Samuel chapter 16 and portrays his adversity, integrity, loyalty, trials and tribulations as the anointed favorite of God. His struggles before becoming King continue through 2 Samuel chapter 28 in the bible. Life on the run takes its toll.
Yet, David teaches us, through the Psalms he wrote, our hope is in God. He who see’s all things and works them to our good and for His glory. Although, Psalm 23 is a frequent chapter written for those who have passed; many who have walked “in the shadow of death” can bear witness–it’s evil is real.
The enemy is a life threatening, chronic condition that requires vigilant attention, while managing everyday stressors. Take comfort in the words of David, who trusted God with all his heart. May you also give to him your fears and anxious thoughts as you meditate upon His word.
Psalm 23—a psalm of David
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside the quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Get moving—10 jumping jacks takes your mind off stress and expends pent up energy and anxiety. Feel silly doing that in the office? Then find a stairwell and go up and down two flights of stairs as quick as you can comfortably and safely do x 2, or just take a short walk to get away from your desk. You may need to do this every hour.
***Always check with your doctor before exercising***
Anxiety leads to increased stress and longing for comfort food. Resist the temptation to over indulge in an heart damaging choice.
Excess alcohol increases the insulin response. Increased caffeine increases the heart rate. And you know, that really comforting burger and fries will add excess saturated fat and contribute to weight gain ….then cause guilt.
Reach for a water a guzzle away. Try some crunchy healthy granola bars, a banana mango smoothie, ( see healthy recipe page) some crunchy celery or an apple dipped in almond butter. Good monostaurated fats….and comforting.