I have been having trouble sleeping lately. I know I should go talk to my doctor about it but I don’t want to be put on medication. I have been having these anxiety attack for over 4 months now.
I find comfort and instant relief when I read the bible. Do you have any other suggestions for me?
Thank you. I look forward to your answer
We “coincidentally” saw your question as we were having a discussion about the increase in anxiety in society today. It is hard to avoid the word, whether you are talking to educators, medical professionals, reading ads touting medication or simply keeping one’s ears open.
This should not surprise us. At one and the same time our society has been increasing the voices sounding doom and gloom while removing those constants that anchored us. For years now, schoolchildren have been used as pawns to attend rallies and write politicians and newspapers in order to preempt terrible consequences. It didn’t matter if the feared enemy was loggers (presented as a menacing threat when our children were growing up in the Pacific Northwest), corporations, or political positions and candidates. Something or someone was/is always threatening their world. More than one generation of adults has now not only failed to protect the innocence of the children with whose care they were entrusted, but has actively hurt them. The first generation of those children are now grown and, not surprisingly, increasing numbers of adults find the world a scary place.
We are bombarded by news reports delivered in anxious voices. A constant barrage of negativity assaults us. That is what grabs our attention and sells the products paying for the sites delivering the news.
At the same time, faith in God, in family and in country is eroding. While believing in God does not mean that bad things don’t tragically happen, it does mean that there is an ultimate plan and that the plan is good. It means that we are not dependent on weak and changeable people to decide how we should act and what we should believe. Strong families mean that we don’t have to face trouble on our own. The Bible tells us that it is not good for any people to be alone (Genesis 2:18) yet today more people are living alone than in any earlier period of American history. One of the best antidotes to anxiety is being together with other bright and upbeat people. The nation’s psychic health was one of the benefits of the ancient pilgrimage to Jerusalem undertaken by most citizens three times a year. Imagine what a boost those visits must have been. Finally, taking pride in our country empowers us to strive to keep it strong. If we have to face the world alone there is, indeed, much about which to be anxious.
Enid, we aren’t surprised that turning to the Bible helps you. We would encourage you to be proactive in other ways as well. Some ideas include limiting your exposure to the news, building relationships so that your troubles are shared, and seeking out as friends those who express gratitude and joy rather than fear, anger and resentment. Find time each day to make others happy, even if it is something as small as complimenting the scarf a checker at the supermarket is wearing. Make sure your days include physical activity, ideally with some time outdoors. In other words, Enid, we can’t rule out a problem that a doctor might uncover, but living with calm is a revolutionary activity today and needs to be actively pursued.
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin