This post is an excerpt from the study guide which accompanies the “Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Personal Responsibility Paradigm” seminar. This portion is one element from “STEP 6: RESTRUCTURE MY LIFE to rely on God’s grace and Word to transform my life.” To RSVP for this and other Summit counseling seminars visit bradhambrick.com/events
This chapter is a buffet. If you consider every strategy presented to be an assignment, this chapter will overwhelm you. As you read, select those strategies that best fit your life circumstances, the dynamics of your struggle, and your personality. If you are working through this material with a friend or counselor, invite them to suggest which strategies they believe would have the largest impact.
To help you select a balanced set of strategies we have divided this chapter into six sections. Some of this material will be crystalizing and making more actionable what you have already learned. Other parts will be fresh applications of the gospel-truths we have been building upon.
- Immediate Negative Emotion Response Plan
- Stewarding Your Body
- Extended Negative Emotion Response Plan
- Life Management
- Pursuit of Joy Plan
- Strategic Spiritual Disciplines
Sometimes managing our emotions can become a distraction from managing our lives. If you find that any of the subjects below are contributing to your experience of depression-anxiety, then these areas would need to be addressed in order for other changes you make to have a lasting effect.
1. Make a Budget:
Debt and financial uncertainty can greatly contribute to the experience of anxiety-depression. It can be important to remember, “All we spend is our life.” Our economy is based upon the trade of hours for dollars and dollars for stuff. When we overspend our life, we cannot expect our emotions to be immune to this imbalance.
If you need help creating and using a budget, visit www.bradhambrick.com/gcmfinances. While this resource is part of a marriage curriculum, the forms and concepts can be used by singles and couples alike.
2. Have Realistic Time Expectations:
If you think you “should” do more than is feasible in a 168 hour week, you are setting yourself up for a nasty cycle of anxiety-depression. For many people this a core part of their emotional struggle. They are unwilling to adjust their expectations to the reality of a 24 hour day, 168 hour week, and 672 hour month.
If you need help adjusting your time expectations, visit www.bradhambrick.com/burnout. This page provides the teaching and tools to walk you through the process of gaining realistic time expectations.
How many things do you feel like you have to keep up with in order for life to go well and be safe? The more answers you have to this question the greater your struggle with anxiety-depression will be. This doesn’t mean secondary and tertiary commitments are bad. It does mean you should carry them with the emotional weight of primary commitments.
An emotionally healthy life is marked by margin. If you perpetually feel rushed, then chances are your activity level is a primary contributor to your experience of depression-anxiety. As you create a budget for your time and money (previous two points), it will force you to simplify your life. You will only use these documents in a healthy way if you view this simplifying as freedom instead of punishment.
“I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.” Blaise the Pascal in Penses 136
4. Externally, Address Problems:
Is there a persistent emotional irritant in your life that you could address? If there is, do so. Do you need help with a project you don’t understand? Ask. Are you carrying bitterness towards someone? Forgive. Are you hiding a secret that is stressful? Disclose. It is unrealistic to expect an alleviation of depression-anxiety if you guard these kinds of emotional irritants.
It may seem simplistic to offer these one-word solutions. That is not my intent. These one-word action steps may require counseling or guidance. If that is the case, then seek that counseling and guidance. Even if you do not feel capable of taking the necessary step, start the process of gaining the strength/skill necessary to do so.
5. Internally, Learn from Mistakes:
In chapters four and five we learned what it means to repent of and confess sin. This is different. Here it is being recommended that you learn from your mistakes. If we don’t have a category for “non-moral short-comings” then the weight of every non-perfectly executed action becomes a burden that fuels an experience of condemnation.
Social faux-pas, ineffective scheduling plans, moments of forgetfulness, acts of clumsiness, and similar mistakes are not moral. God is not displeased. God won’t forgive us because he’s not upset. Allow yourself the emotional freedom to learn from these moments without the pressure to get them right next time “or else.” But do learn from them so that they do not create a cumulative disruption that creates an emotionally unhealthy life.
OVERCOMING DEPRESSION-ANXIETY: A PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY PARADIGM
Date: Saturday October 18
Time: 4:00 to 7:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.