Understanding Anxiety Through Faith

Anxiety from an Eastern Orthodox Perspective

Explore a collection of resources designed to help you manage anxiety through the timeless wisdom of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Introduction to my Anxiety Project

I offer a unique approach to understanding and managing anxiety, deeply rooted in the teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church. My Anxiety Project is an ongoing effort to research Anxiety for clinical and pastoral application that arises from the timeless wisdom and rich experience of our ancient Christian faith.

To this end, I like sharing resources emerging from my work, which I hope are helfpul. My resources include articles, personal reflections, and practical tools to help navigate anxiety with faith and resilience.

Also, check out my Events Page for upcoming workshops on Anxiety!

 

Resources

Please download and print the below PDFs for personal use or use in your local church.

Permissions: Free to use and reproduce and modify. Please, just let me know you’re using it by reaching out through my Contact form below and letting me know. I invite feedback for improvement.

Anxiety in the New Testament Handout

Level: General Audience

Anxiety, thoughts, and fear are related concepts and words in the Bible. I made a quick-reference handout for every occurrance of anxiety and fear in the New Testament (and the single reference for thoughts related to the anxiety word group). The handout is based on the original, biblical Greek of the NT, but presents all information in English. It has notes and a Bible Study prompt as a practical tool for personal application. 

Orthodox FAQ on Anxiety Handout

Level: General Audience

This FAQ is a quick-reference guide to answer basic questions about Anxiety from an Orthodox perspective. It covers the definition of Anxiety, its treatment, its relationship to the Orthodox Christian life and the Mysteries of the Church, and seeking professional help. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Anxiety

Explore answers to common questions about anxiety through the lens of Eastern Orthodox teachings and practices.

What is anxiety from an Eastern Orthodox perspective?

Anxiety is seen as a spiritual struggle, often linked to a lack of trust in God’s provision (as in Matthew 6:24-34). The struggle is centered in one’s inner thought life and is viewed as having a relationship with the sinful passion of Fear. The effects of Anxiety branch out to the emotions and even physical sensations (like panic). Ultimately, the antidote to Anxiety is healing the passion with corrective fear of God. The Church encourages prayer, fasting, and participation in the Mysteries to find peace from inner torments.

How can prayer help with anxiety?

Prayer is a powerful way of life in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. Like breathing sustains us through the day, we should also “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17) lest we suffocate on the cares of this life. The prayer of the heart centers one’s life on God in Christ: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.” Prayer humbly seeks His guidance and comfort in times of distress. “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

What role do the sacraments play in managing anxiety?

The sacraments, especially Confession and Holy Communion, are vital in the healing process, which is the salvation of man. Confession helps combat harmful thought patterns and behaviors and renews the healing Grace of Baptism. Holy Communion, being Christ’s very life, cures the harmful effects of Fear as “the medicine of immortality” (St. Ignatius Letter to the Ephesians, 20). The Mysteries offer spiritual renewal and a deeper connection with God, which will alleviate anxiety. Partaking of them is essential during the struggle toward greater faithfulness in the face of Anxiety.

Can fasting help reduce anxiety?

Fasting is not just about abstaining from food but really about spiritual discipline. It helps to cultivate self-control, humility, and reliance on God, which can significantly reduce Anxiety, which is often linked to a hidden lack of reliance on God or unrecognized Fear.

What are some practical steps for managing anxiety?

In addition to spiritual practices, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, seeking professional counseling, and engaging in community support are practical steps that are not incompatible with an Orthodox Christian way of life. There is a lot out there in social media and professional mental health about how to deal with Anxiety, and not all of it is sound. Discernment is needed. The struggler should consult with loving and trusted guides, such as friends, parents, and clergy. This guards against a professional or a lifestyle change introducing distrust in Christ or resulting in spiritual or physical harm.

How does the Eastern Orthodox Church view mental health professionals?

The Church generally recognizes the important role of mental health professionals in modern society and encourages collaboration between spiritual and psychological care to provide holistic support for people. Anxiety is, at its root, related to spiritual illness with signs, symptoms, and effects in one’s body and personality. Mental health professionals are usually not equipped (or not authorized) to address the spiritual need, which is the deepest level of healing of the human person.

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