At a recent meeting of Christian physicians, I was privileged to hear a devotional by my friend Dr. Elaine Eng.  Dr. Eng is a psychiatrist in New York.  She is also a devout Christian, who travels the world speaking, teaching and loving those she meets.

Her topic was anxiety.  Wow, that hit home.  Anxiety is epidemic in the emergency department!  (Even among the patients!)

Using principals of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (similar to Eller’s Rational Emotive Therapy, which my wife studied in graduate school), Dr. Eng highlights the way the same principals were discussed by the Apostle Paul in the New Testament book of Philippians; and as we Christians believe, were therefore laid down by God himself; Paul was rather taking transcription!

If you have been anxious, or work with anxious patients, this short summary is powerful ammunition against the pervasive evil of anxiety.  I’ve also posted a link to Dr. Eng’s books, co-authored by author Harold Koenig.

https://www.amazon.com/Martha-How-Christians-Worry/dp/0789008653/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255096019&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.com/Christian-Approach-Overcoming-Disability-Doctors/dp/0789022575/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255096019&sr=8-2

By the way, if your work and anxiety seems overwhelming, know this:  Dr. Eng is blind, but faces here own anxieties with an absolutely Spirit-filled grace.

Say a prayer for her son, an NYC police officer.

“…Seven coping skills for anxiety found in Philippians 4:6-9.

” Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests  to God.    And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ  Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,  whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or  praiseworthy–think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me –put it in practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.”*2*

These seven directives also make up the basic principles of cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders and I have integrated them into my practice.  So what are the seven coping skills:  First, stop anxious thoughts.  This is counterintuitive as most people dwell on what worries them in order to find solutions but if it is a chronic worry, such preoccupation will only make it worse by pulling oneself into the worry loop.  Instead one should find techniques and practices that work for them to nip worrisome thoughts in the bud.  Some people snap rubber bands on their wrist to remind themselves to get away from the anxious thought.  Others visualize a big “stop sign” and others just tell themselves a determined “No.”  They then have to go onto another focus which can be another activity or as stated in the book of Philippians, they can turn all their attention to God.  The phrase, “in everything” describes reshifting one’s focus from worries to something else.  What better focus can there be to a Christian than to the sovereign God who can provide comfort and aid?  The third coping skill is prayer and petition.  This should not be limited to repetitive prayer about one’s worry as that would be analogous to dwelling on the anxious thought.  Rather one should resume their normal prayer life of adoration, intercession, confession and thanksgiving.  The latter turns out to be the fourth coping skill.  One’s mind can only do one thing at a time.  If it is thinking about what one is thankful for as in counting one’s blessings, it will crowd out the worries.  Since mood is dependant on thought in cognitive behavioral theory, thanksgiving can bring the mood from anxiety to calm and even joy.  Fifthly, the writer, St. Paul, admonishes us to think about what is true or real.  Many anxious people dwell on the worst case scenario, the “what if” thoughts empowering these thoughts as real when it is statistically unlikely.  When queried there rational estimation knows that their fears are not true.  While they KNOW that their thinking is not realistic, the worried individual FEELS as if the worst is likely to happen.  God tells people to believe only that which is real and set one’s mind on it.  There are a host of other things He listed for the person to set their minds on.  One such item is to think about what is “lovely” which is the sixth coping skill called visualization.  In creation, He has given each one of us lovely scenes in our memory.  Visualizing them by using our imagination to bring these scenes into our mind’s eye for an interval of time can be relaxing and calming.  The final coping skill is found in verse 9 and it refers to the need to “practice.”  We need to practice these seven skills daily especially if we are prone to worry.  One cannot give up after one try and say it does not work.  The effectiveness of these skills come only with a lifetime of practice.  “*

Taken from A CHRISTIAN APPROACH TO OVERCOMING DISABILITY:  A DOCTOR’S STORY 2004 by Elaine L. Eng, M.D.

Also author of “MARTHA, MARTHA”:  HOW CHRISTIANS WORRY.  2000

Can be obtained from amazon.com or Taylor and Francis Publishers

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