Frank Sinatra’s mega-hit song, My Way, has a line about regrets. “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few too mention.” We should all be so fortunate! And by the way, doing it my way versus God’s way, not the path I choose. Sorry Frank! Now, about regrets, we do have a […]
Be anxious about nothing! For over 40 million people, living this directive is not easy. Anxiety seems to be a part of modern life. And anxiety often has its companion, worry, close at hand.
In my book, Letting Go of Worry, I explain that worry is the mental part of anxiety. To let go of worry and anxiety involves the mind, body and spirit. Here are some practical tips to help you be anxious about nothing:
1) The opposite of tension is slow breathing. So take a deep breath and exhale slowing. Inhale through your nose, hold the breath, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Slow breathing calms the body and allows the mind to rest, especially when you focus on the breath. This focus on a physical body action distracts the brain from worried thoughts.
2) Socially engage–have a conversation, coffee or meet up face to face. Anxiety and worry can be triggered by loneliness. Because our brain is wired for connection, we need contact with other people. When we socially engage with another person, we activate a part of our nervous system that calms anxiety. So an action step to fight the anxiety of loneliness and isolation is to call someone. Talk to your minister, a counselor, a family member or friend. Human connection lowers anxiety.
3) Burn off anxiety through exercise. It works. No matter how uptight you feel, a hard workout calms the body. It releases mood enhancing hormones and makes you feel better overall. Exercise is probably one of the easiest, free ways to lower your anxiety.
4) Learn to soothe yourself. It is important to know how to calm your body. A hot bath works for me. For others it might be a heating pad, massage, cup of hot tea, reading, etc. Find something that brings relaxation. When you have a method of calming and distracting, the brain gets a rest from worry and anxiety.
5) Use music to calm your soul. Put on a relaxing tune and unwind. Close your eyes and be swept away. Use music to meditate, There is research to show this is an effective relaxation method.
6) Escape through a good novel or TV show. Both are distracting and give a racing mind a break. Now, what you choose to watch can be distracting and also upsetting. So choose a redemptive story-one that will uplift and encourage you.
7) Live in the moment. Anxiety is rooted in what might happen in the future. What if… Don’t go there. Stay in the moment. At this moment, what are you grateful for? What is good in your life? What do you notice around you that is pleasant and hopeful? Or just close your eyes and keep your mind stayed on Christ. The promise is, He will keep you in perfect peace when you focus on Him. You can do this any moment of the day.
8) Meditate on Scripture. This is more than distracting the mind. Meditating on the Word transforms us. The Word is living, active and able to renew your mind. Find Scriptures related to peace and contentment and mediate on them regularly.
9) Practice gratitude. Focus your mind on things that are good. Philippians 4:8 tell gives us a gratitude focus. Focus on what is good, true, pure, lovely, and of good report. Then write or say 3 things every day for which you are grateful.
10) Stay hopeful. Our hope is not in the things around us–government, people, material things–but in a God who promises to keep us, watch over us, care about us and be with us always. The end of our story is an eternity with God. Never lose hope.