Anxiety affects 40 million adults, making it the most common mental illness in the United States. Gen Z is the most anxious generation on record because of high pressure to succeed, constant contact with social media and an intimidating, ever-changing society. According to mental health studies, anxiety among teens has risen by 30 percent in the past decade. The National Institute of Health concludes that one in three adolescents experience clinical anxiety, excluding the 60 percent of those suffering who do not receive treatment.
I have been part of that 60 percent. I have always felt extreme pressure regarding academics, extracurriculars, social media and athletics. I have gone to extreme lengths to ensure consistent business to avoid being alone with my thoughts. It began as perfectionism: the desire to excel at everything perfectly. Emphasis on everything. I have come to realize that perfectionism and anxiety go hand-in-hand; without the anxiety to make everything perfect, where would perfectionism be?
During my sophomore year, my complicated friendships caused me social anxiety and much insecurity. After a year, I found myself. I realized that God loves me, so it doesn’t matter if others don’t.
Although I hoped my anxiety would end there, I was wrong. During last year’s cheerleading season, my anxiety levels hit the roof. I chose to carry the weight of the team’s success on my shoulders. I felt as if I had to fix everything. Meanwhile, my relentless academic workload weighed heavy as ever. I experienced severe panic attacks consisting of hyperventilating, shaking and a sitting heart rate over 150. These attacks occurred at least biweekly.
After cheer ended, the attacks decreased. However, I remained anxious regarding social circumstances, hectic situations and future plans. Nevertheless, I found rest in the Savior. I never truly understood giving everything to Him, trusting He’ll handle it all.
In order to believe that, we must first believe in His sovereignty. If we believe that God is the designer of everything and He has already planned the exact formula of how eternity will unfold, anxiety ceases.
The Bible says to not be anxious about anything because He guards your hearts and minds (Philippians 4:6-7); to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5); that He will uphold you with His righteous hand (Isaiah 41:10); not to let your hearts be troubled (John 14:1); and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:6).
The instruction to shed anxiety is in Philippians 4:8-9, “Whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, if there is any excellence, anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned, received, heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Despite the fact I never predicted this simplicity, my life feels saved after fully grasping the idea of God’s cure for anxiety. Although it often tries to rise within me, immediately squashing it with the truth from God’s word is life-changing. To anyone desperate for escape from angst: my advice is to memorize scripture that contradicts anxiety’s lies. You will be forever prepared for the battle of your mind.