Stress, anxiety, racing thoughts, panic attacks and depression are symptoms with complex causes including biochemical, genetic, environmental and spiritual factors. We all suffer from “negative programming” to some degree related to our past experiences and family of origin issues.
There is an approach in modern psychology called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that is designed to help people become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking. The therapist works with the client to help them learn to restructure their thoughts to view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way. For example, people who are prone to depression and other mood disorders may have a habit of cognitive distortions such as black and white thinking, overgeneralization, and catastrophizing.
The great news is that God designed your brain and nervous system to respond to His word. He sent his Holy Spirit to transform us and renew our minds. We can learn to recognize our cognitive distortions (fears = False Evidence Appearing Real) and replace them with the truth. With intention and practice we can take every thought captive and hold it up to the light of His word.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. ~2 Timothy 1:7 AKJV
Holy Spirit is our teacher. We simply need to ask for the wisdom and insight that we need and He will provide. Remember, it takes time to heal the brain and body, and you will need support along the way. Consulting a pastor or trusted friend can be most helpful in this process.
In addition to prayer, here’s a brief list of other practical ways to calm your brainwaves and bring more joy into your life:
- Start a journal of three things that went well during your day. Periodically look back over your journal entries and practice being grateful for the little things.
- Learn and practice soft belly breathing.
- Learn to deal with your brain ANTS (automatic negative thoughts).
- Take warm, relaxing baths with lavender essential oil and Epson salts.
- Learn how to say NO to avoid excessive obligations.
- Listen to classical music.
- Consider getting a pet or volunteering at the local animal shelter.
- Learn about herbs and nutritional supplements that can help your body adapt and respond to stress, soothe anxiety and lift your mood. Some of my favorites are L-theanine, Ashwagandha, Passionflower, Ylang ylang and Lavender essential oils, St. John’s wort and Lemon balm. Stay tuned for more information on how to safely use these remedies in future posts.
In the meantime, I invite you to join the Caring for the Body Community to stay connected with me and receive future “Joy Prescriptions.”
Cynthia Libert, M.D.