Education Week: Counselor shares ways to “fear not” and overcome anxiety

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Carrie M. Wrigley presents at Education Week. Wrigley discussed the epidemic of anxiety and how gospel principles can combat it at BYU Education Week on Tuesday. (Jackson Payne)

Professional counselor Carrie M. Wrigley discussed the epidemic of anxiety and how gospel principles can combat it at BYU Education Week on Tuesday.

Wrigley noted how in her professional life she had seen a drastic increase in anxiety cases over the past two decades. She cited events such as the Sept. 11 attacks and COVID-19 pandemic as causes for uncertainty and fear among individuals, especially those who never knew a more peaceful world beforehand.

“Things have become scary that never were scary before,” Wrigley said of the turmoil of the past two decades.

While traumatic events are happening in the world each day, Wrigley emphasized there is much more good occurring which people aren’t able or choosing to see. She likened the news to social media, where everything is carefully chosen as a “snapshot” of a larger perspective that stays hidden so that a misleading idea remains.

“We can decide where we focus (in life) and what we zoom in on,” Wrigley said.

Wrigley continued her presentation by saying that if people never look away from the bad things in life, their anxiety will worsen and they’ll miss out on the good of the world.

“If we have the eyes to see, we’ll see the beautiful things that happen around us all the time,” Wrigley said.

Wrigley detailed the physical, social and mental impact of anxiety, then dove into the spiritual aspect of anxiety and the effects which can arise.

“Dampening spiritual sensitivity or a loss of faith can definitely be caused by anxiety,” Wrigley said.

Despite the anxieties of the world, Wrigley said God’s commandment to “fear not” can offer the hope and healing people need.

“None of the adversity in our lives is a surprise to the Lord,” Wrigley said. “The Lord’s mercy is there for us. He will be there for us and He will guide us through.”

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