Anxiety is a relentless alarm, a persistent signal from our body and mind that something is wrong. It's like a fire alarm in a building – the alarm itself isn’t the problem, but rather it demands our attention and gives us a warning. The intensity of anxiety can be overwhelming, leading our thoughts to spiral out of control and our bodies to betray us. We’re left wondering how to overcome fear and anxiety, if it’s even possible.
Are we doomed to be slaves to our fear and worry, or are there coping skills for anxiety that can help us overcome it?
4 coping skills for anxiety
So, what can we do when anxiety strikes? How can we help ourselves and those we care about navigate these tumultuous feelings? Here are 4 coping skills for anxiety you can start implementing today:
1. Slow down and listen to the alarms
Anxiety is your brain's way of trying to let you know that something’s wrong. When you feel your heart racing or your palms sweating, pause and pay attention. What is your body telling you? Taking note of your thoughts and physical sensations can often point right to the source of your fear. Are you feeling threatened, lonely, exhausted, or fixated on a person or situation causing you pain?
Here are some ways to take inventory of your thoughts and feelings so you can start getting to the bottom of your anxiety:
- Write down your troubling thoughts: Putting your thoughts on paper allows you to evaluate them for accuracy and truth. While our feelings and thoughts are valid, they don't always reflect reality. Go down your list of thoughts one by one and ask yourself if they’re true.
- Start a gratitude journal: Expressing gratitude shifts your focus away from dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, grounding you in the present moment.
2. Keep one eye on eternity
In times of anxiety, it's crucial to maintain a perspective beyond our immediate worries. Jesus, in John 14:1, urged his disciples not to let their hearts be troubled. He reminded them that there is more to life than our earthly existence.
Keeping one eye on eternity means we recognize that this life is not the end-all and be-all. Often, we strive for perfection in various aspects of our lives, whether it's our health, relationships, or careers. However, understanding that there is a higher purpose and a greater plan can help alleviate the pressure we place on ourselves.
3. Learn to control your thoughts and actions
We have no control over which thoughts will pop into our minds. However, we can decide which thoughts we give power to.
In Philippians 4:8, the Apostle Paul advised us to focus on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. In essence, Paul encourages us to challenge the negative and critical voices in our heads. While we can’t prevent thoughts from entering our minds, we can choose which ones we engage with and allow to influence our actions.
You don’t have to be a victim to your thoughts and emotions. Anger, anxiety, and sadness can inform you, but they don't have to rule over you. By learning to control your thoughts and actions, you can navigate anxiety more effectively.
4. Remember you’re not alone
Even when anxiety overwhelms you, remember that you are not alone. If you place your trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives within you. The Holy Spirit serves as an encourager and a guide during times of distress. It is a constant source of comfort and wisdom, helping you regain control over your thoughts and emotions.
Jesus promised in John 14:27 that the Holy Spirit will remind you of what’s true and provide peace in the midst of anxiety. The Holy Spirit is a gift, living in those who trust in Jesus as their savior. It offers a peace of mind and heart that the world cannot provide.
Tangibly, there are also other people who have experienced anxiety in a similar way. It’s not an uncommon struggle, but it’s all too easy to isolate. Resist that urge to shut yourself out from the world and join a Group where you can process your struggles and find support.
By following these four steps, you can find peace in the middle of anxiety. While anxiety will inevitably surface in life, you don't have to be its slave. As you implement these steps, you will experience the profound peace that only comes from God, enabling you to face anxiety with confidence and resilience.
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