Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
-Matthew 6:24 ESV
If you suffer from anxiety you are not alone. Recent surveys have found that in our culture approximately 25% of adults suffer from severe anxiety at some point in life. Anxiety can be in response to a variety of sources. It might come from a crisis that you feel you have no control over such as cancer (yours or that of someone you love), a change in your stage of life such as an empty nest or retirement or it may just seem to come out of the blue with no particular reason. Whatever the circumstances, anxiety can be crippling and can drastically interfere with your life. You may even feel like you are losing your mind!
Matthew 6:24 provides assurance that God does not want us to suffer like this. In fact God has promised us He wants the very best for us. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Ok, so we have God’s assurance that He only wants what is best for us and that He doesn’t want us to be anxious, yet sometimes all that does is add guilt to our list of things to be anxious about. We know we should be able to be calm yet we just can’t seem to access that peace of mind. In fact, anxiety can completely eclipse the feeling of having a hopeful future!
The good news is that as overwhelming as anxiety feels, you cannot “lose your mind”, “go off the deep end” or die from anxiety! In fact, it is highly responsive to treatment. There are many simple yet highly effective tools and resources that can be combined in a treatment plan to overcome our anxiety thus freeing us up to live the life that God planned for us.
The following are tried and true techniques that will help you get your anxiety under control so that you can more effectively confront this day’s “own trouble”.
Face your fears
Don’t let anxiety win. Even though avoiding situations that cause you anxiety feels better for the moment, it actually fuels the fire of future anxiety.
Challenge and replace irrational thoughts
What are you telling yourself? Are you catastrophizing? Find out which of your thoughts are distorted and replace them with more realistic thoughts. ex. I might fail the test and flunk out of college. More realistically I might make a B or a C on the test. That is not what I wanted to make but it is solid and I will be fine.
Relax your body and soul
Practice progressive muscle relaxation exercises and guided visualization techniques
Learn abdominal breathing to help control shortness of breath
Regular aerobic exercise has physiological benefits that counteract anxiety
Limit your caffeine intake
Take care of yourself
Get a good night’s sleep regularly
Do something you enjoy ex. quilt, play tennis, read for pleasure
Invest in your meaningful relationships
Be willing to “accomplish” less and focus more on the “journey” of life
Molly K. Meeks, MS, NCC