Mind Games: Strategies for Managing Anxiety, Panic, Depression, and Anger

Jul 25, 2022

We’re kicking off a brand new summer mini-series here at VFC! Pastor Patrick Norris is bringing us 2 weeks of  Mind Games. Throughout this series, we’re coming around the topic of God’s plan for our mental health as we discover the connections between each of these areas of our lives: spirit + soul, brain + body, and interpersonal + social.

In Part 1 of the series, Pastor Patrick shared an empowering, thought-provoking word that provided us with functional, effective strategies for managing anxiety, panic, depression, and anger in alignment with God’s Word and intentions for our lives. In the beginning of his message, Pastor Patrick shares a testimony of the goodness of God as it pertains to both his mental and physical health that not only sets the stage for what’s to come, but also relates to many of us on a personal level.

We’re encouraged to truly, honestly reflect on this question: How are you? We all have emotional and mental highs and lows, but how are your averages? How is your state of feeling, your affect, not just in this exact moment, but on a weekly basis? 

Some of us experience unexplained and frequent moodiness.

Some of us get aggressively triggered by seemingly small circumstances.

Some of us experience ruminating thoughts that spiral into uncontrollable anxiousness. 

Some of us have a sense of panic in our chest that activates our fight or flight response. 

Some of us experience bubbling anger that erupts without our control and leaves us confused.

Many of us ask ourselves, Why is everybody else so normal beside me? 

All of us need to remember…You are not alone! Need proof? Check out these global stats on anxiety, depression, panic, and anger:

Anxiety: The World Health Organization reports, in 2019, 1 in every 8 people, or 970 million people around the world were living with a mental disorder, with anxiety and depressive disorders being the most common. 

Depression:The World Health Organization reports, in 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people living with anxiety and depressive disorders rose significantly. Initial estimates show a 26% and 28% increase, respectively for anxiety and major depressive disorders in just one year. 

Panic: The Cleveland Clinic reports that every year, up to 11% of Americans experience a panic attack. Approximately 2% to 3% of them go on to develop panic diapers, having repeated and unexpected panic attacks. 

Anger and Rage: The Mental Health American non-profit reports, in 2020, 71% of people who took an anxiety screen felt easily annoyed or irritable at least half of the time or nearly every day. 82% reported being so irritable that they shouted at people or started fights or arguments. 

We are not isolated in our experiences, friends! We see proof of that more and more throughout Part 1 of Mind Games. Unfortunately, feelings of anxiety, depression, panic, and anger are the highest they’ve ever been in history. This is because our current conditions support us having inordinate emotional dysregulation, discontentment, frustrations, and even complete shut down. 

We live in a modern generation that promotes more and more isolation. When what we really need is connection and relationship! We cannot adapt our lives around the basis of simple, superficial ideas. If we allow ourselves to believe that we’re “just bad at relationships” or “just not great in social situations”, stress upon stress will build until our mental health and beliefs about ourselves become detrimentally influenced. Just a hug, a handshake, and eye-to-eye contact with intentionality releases oxytocin and helps regulate and encourage our contentment with ourselves and our lives. We need each other!


Like Pastor Patrick asked, how are you? What support do you need in this life season?

Reflect on a time when you felt or experienced either depression, anxiety, panic, or anger. Did those feelings isolate you? 

How did reconnecting with people who care about you impact those negative emotions?

Mental Health + Human Flourishing

In Strategies for Managing Anxiety, Panic, Depression, and Anger, Pastor Patrick shares numerous examples from his own life in which he experienced panic attacks, anxiety, shame, and harmful patterns of rumination that relate to us the importance of prioritizing the health of our soul and spirit to benefit our mind, body, and social aspects of ourselves as well. If you haven’t already, listen to his message for encouragement, relatability, and understanding as he empathizes with each of us on some level. 

It’s important for us to understand that there is a triad for mental health and human flourishing. In the middle of the triad is our spirit and soul. We are an immaterial soul, a spiritual being! That being feels and thinks and organizes and plans. It has memories. 

Philosopher and theologian Dr. JP Moreland has a book called The Soul that explains clearly the truth behind our soul’s capabilities and innerworkings. “Near death experiences” prove physically that we have a soul. Pastor Patrick’s explanation of this in Part 1 of Mind Games is truly eye opening, so be sure to listen! Biblically, the soul is clearly the place of thought and memory and feeling and cognition and rationale. 

So when it comes to mental health, mental means “mind” and “mind” is a material that is part of the soul. We can’t successfully address mental health if we’re operating under that pretense that we are only physical beings with a brain. Mental health begins with the soul! Once our lives come to an end on this earth, our souls are no longer dependent on our brains and bodies.

Yes, the vagus nerve is responsible for communicating with different parts of the body. Emotional dysregulation has a relationship to our physical body and can cause illness, sickness, and disease. But we are also intrapersonal beings! We are designed by God to be in relationships. If we learn how to have a functional, thriving triad of mental health and human flourishing, then we are able to prevent issues like anxiety, depression, panic, and anger. 

Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Let’s take a look at this verse through the additional lens of Greek insights that further describe the meaning of each of these words:

Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) For the word of God is living (zao-life of God) and powerful (energes-energy), and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing (diikneomai-penetrating) even to the division (merismos-a distribution of gifts) of soul and spirit, and of joints (harmos-fasten, fit together, harmony, systems) and marrow (myelos-spinal cord/brain), and is a discerner (kritikos-to judge) of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Notice the emphasis the writers place on the soul! Today, we are physicalists in our generation; everything is reduced to physical happenings. The brain is a retrieval device that God has given us to take that which is in the soul and translate it into experience. When we have thoughts, cognitions, and choices, it is the immaterial side of our dual nature coming to life. Dealing with brain psychology without dealing with spiritual psychology doesn’t treat the root issues! 

1 Peter 2:11 (KJV) …abstain from fleshly lusts which war against your soul. 

Physical sins war against our souls! There is a symbiotic relationship between our spiritual health with our mental, social, and physical health. When we sin spiritually, we struggle in other realms of our life because our soul is intertwined with every other piece of our being. Similarly, our soul is impacted by the things we watch, read, and hear. We are guardians and stewards of our soul! If we want to be mentally and physically healthy, we must begin with the prosperity of our soul. Amen!


When your mental or physical health has suffered or struggled, how was your spiritual health at the time? 

Alternatively, how has a healthy soul positively impacted your mental and physical being? 

How would you define the relationship between your mind, body, and soul?

Protocols for Mental Health

If you’re wondering how to go about developing and strengthening your triad of mental health for human flourishing, these protocols are just what you need! We’ll cover your soul + spirit, mind + body, and interpersonal + social but remember, whole self health all begins with your soul! 

Spirit + Soul

  1. Be born again
  2. Be baptized in the Holy Spirit
  3. Bible (preaching, reading)
  4. Meditation
  5. Gratitude
  6. Affirmations

Dr. Wendy Suzuki, a profound researcher of memory and neuroscientist at New York University, has done phenomenal research around affirmations that supports the importance of declaring God’s truths, promises, and will over your life and the life of others. 

  1. Music/worship
  2. Faith lifestyle
  3. Sanctification + avoid sin 

Pastor Patrick shares more about each of these protocols in great detail in his message, Strategies for Managing Anxiety, Panic, Depression, and Anger. Simply put, when we implement each of these protocols for developing our soul + spirit health into our lives, we enter an empowerment circuit that causes us to release the neurochemicals that cause us to feel like our suffering is no longer destroying us. God is for us and has given us the tools to thrive even in a world like this! 

Brain + Body

  1. Sleep 

Try light therapy! First thing in the morning, get outside for 10 minutes to reset your circadian clock.

  1. Exercise

Just walking 40 minutes a day has a drastic impact on your physical health! Try getting outside to experience the benefits of optical flow through bilateral sights. 

  1. Diet

Did you know? Sugar  and fructose degrade your emotional experience? What we put into our bodies matters! 

  1. Cognitive behavioral

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps to manage your problems by changing the way that you think and behave. 

  1. Empowerment

Utilize the spiritual affirmations and empowerment circuit described above! 

  1. Therapeutic (relationship) 

Stay tuned for next week! We’re sharing lots of community resources.

Interpersonal + Social 

  1. Engage story work

To help facilitate us in our journey towards whole-self health and wellness as God intended, Pastor Patrick is offering an online storywork conference alongside psychologist Dr. Todd Bowman that explores mental health through the soul, brain, and body. This virtual event takes place on Saturday, August 20 from 9am to 1pm (CST). Click here for more information and to register and engage God in the context of your story!

  1. Self-differentiation
  2. Boundaries
  3. Engage necessary conflict
  4. Repair willingly + well 


Which of these 3 areas do you struggle with the most? 

Which item on each list will you choose to focus on this week?

How will abiding by the spiritual protocol benefit the mind + body and interpersonal + social protocols? 

Let’s commit to using the tools and wisdom Pastor Patrick Norris shared with us to employ a basic foundational framework to alleviate any suffering and torment we may be experiencing! God’s desire for us is to experience peace and joy and grace beyond our wildest dreams. Human flourishing begins with opening our hearts to Jesus Christ! 


Heavenly Father, thank you for creating us in your image. Thank you for the complexity of our beings and the symbiotic relationship you intended for each aspect of our lives and our being. We love you, Lord! Help us to implement the guidance and wisdom shared today as we continue to passionately pursue you and grow closer to you. God, we ask that you shape us to be more and more like Jesus every single day. It’s in Jesus’ holy name that we pray, Amen!


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