Let me introduce you to a professional thief. He comes around when you least expect him and he is sneaky and sly, so watch out!
Your supervisor calls you into her office first thing in the morning. So, your mind races and your heart pounds as you wonder if you’re going to be fired. And before you know it, this thief has just sneaked into the backdoor of your life, stealing your joy and taking away your peace.
What’s his real name? Anxiety.
How do you stop anxiety dead in its tracks? Here are 8 helpful tips:
- Breathe Deeply
When you feel anxious and afraid, the first thing to do is take a deep breath. Breathing deeply will automatically relax your body.Here’s how to practice the 4-7-8 deep breathing technique:
- Breathe in deeply through your nose for 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
- Breathe out slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds.
- Create a Worry-Free Zone
If an anxious thought comes into mind, write it down on a 3×5 card. Choose a time and place to think about your “worries.” Make sure that it’s scheduled early enough in the day so you won’t feel stressed by bedtime. And make the rest of the day a worry-free zone.
- Declutter Your Mind
Adjust your thoughts so that they are “…true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable,” (Philippians 4:8). Try using the T.H.I.N.K. method to change how you think about yourself, another person, or a situation.Ask yourself:
T– Is it true?
H– Is it helpful?
I– Is it inspirational?
N-Is it necessary?
K-Is it kind?
The bottom line is this: If a thought doesn’t pass the T.H.I.N.K test, get rid of it!
- Get moving
A simple way to get rid of anxiety is to get up and move. Take a walk outside. Go for a run. Or dance to your favorite song. Exercise produces feel-good endorphins—which relieve stress and make you feel better.
- Talk to a Caring Person
Meet with an understanding Christian counselor, pastor, or friend. Call them up on the phone if you have to. And don’t be shy; tell them you’re anxious and why you’re feeling that way. Seeing a licensed counselor and going to a Life Recovery Group will give you a safe place. They will listen to you without judgment and help you work through your struggles.
- Recognize Triggers
While triggers aren’t the cause of anxiety, they are the stimulus for it. When you begin to feel anxious, ask yourself: “Where’s this anxiety coming from?” Then write about it in your journal. So when your spouse confronts you and you panic, figure out why it’s a trigger. Perhaps confrontation is a trigger because it reminds you of the verbal abuse you experienced as a child.
- Challenge Your Fears
Stop thinking about the worst-case scenario for every event. Your fear might be: “I can’t go to this party. Everyone will think I’m a dork, and I’ll end up in the corner all by myself.” Instead of automatically thinking the party will be a disaster, think about the steps you can take to make it a positive experience: “I’ll introduce myself to 3 people at the party and ask questions to get to know them.”
- Separate Fact From Fiction
The next time you start to worry, ask yourself if it’s your imagination. Make two columns on a sheet of paper: fact and fiction. Write down all of your fears and put them in either the fact or fiction column. Once you’re able to distinguish the difference between your fears that are fact and those that are fiction, you’re taking a huge step toward reducing—and, ultimately, eliminating—your anxiety.
You don’t have to let fear control you. In fact, you can be fearless. Instead of reacting in fear, you can trust in God.
The writer of Hebrews asks a thought-provoking question in Hebrews 13:6 which says, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”
Make the decision to stop reacting and start responding in ways that are healthy. So the next time anxiety tries to sneak into your life, stop it in its tracks!