If you’re reading this, odds are you’ve experienced anxiety.
Anxiety permeates our culture, and while people face varying levels of anxiety, it affects all of us at some point. The next time you feel anxiety, worry, or stress building up, try these three practices.
Prayer.Sometimes the best way to defeat anxiety is to name it. Spend time in prayer talking with God about what is causing your anxiety and why it’s creating so much worry. Then, take it a step further - say out loud what you’re anxious about in an audible prayer to God. This doesn’t have to be a formal, perfectly crafted prayer. Do this in the car on the way to work, on your lunch break, or in the morning as you get ready for the day.
Anxiety stems from carrying something you weren’t meant to carry - so hand it over to someone who is able carry it. Cast your anxiety on him because he cares for you (Psalm 55:22). Those who struggle with anxiety know this is easier said than done. But naming your anxiety in an audible prayer to God is a simple and practical first step. Speak your worries and your fears to God, acknowledging that he alone can carry them. Trust in that truth. Come back to this practice as many times a day as you need to.
Gratitude.Anxiety is the present emotion of inner turmoil produced by the uncertainty of the future. Most of us are far too preoccupied with the future – What if I don’t get the job I want? Will my kids be healthy? What if I never get married? – and we continue to spiral down the black hole of “what if?” and “what then?”. The problem with this mindset is that we’re constantly missing out on what is right in front of us – the present. Instead of focusing on an uncertain future (which will always be uncertain, no matter how much planning and worrying we do), focus on the certainty of right now – and be thankful!
There is much to be grateful for in the present. Whether it’s a job, your hot cup of coffee, or the simple fact that you are breathing air in and out of your lungs at this very moment – big or small, these are things to be grateful for. Practice gratitude for the current blessings in your life to keep the worry at bay. Try writing down three things that you’re grateful for at the end of every day. Is the sun shining today? Write down! Find someone to keep you accountable and exchange your gratitude lists each day.
Figure out what brings you peace and practice it!Spend some time reflecting on the activities, places, and people that bring you joy and peace. A lot of our time is spent on what we think we should be doing and not on what our souls truly need to be refilled. Spending time with God in the Word is a good (and necessary!) practice that leads to peace. But each of us are wired differently with varying passions, creativity, likes, and dislikes. So – what fills you up? Is it a walk to the park? Reading a good book? For some, time spent with other people is life giving and rewarding (hi, extroverts!). For others, time alone is the best way for them to reenergize and recover from stressful days.
With kids, work, school, and everything in between, it may seem impossible to get time to yourself. But being intentional about self-care is so very important! While we could spend much more time unpacking the topic, we’ll leave you with this challenge: do one thing each week that brings you life. Whether you have 10 minutes or 2 hours, make it a priority to focus on refueling in the exact way that God created you to be refueled. Turn your focus back toward Christ, cast your anxieties on him, and find joy in the peace that comes.
Want to dig deeper? CLICK HERE to watch Clay Scroggins’ message on How to Handle Your Anxiety.