Anxiety and worry can feel overwhelming. This post includes tips to overcome anxiety and worry that have helped me deal with these difficult emotions. We all need encouragement and help when powerful emotions, fearful thoughts, and difficult circumstances get the best of us. Spiritual wisdom, biblical truth, and practical strategies are keys to deepen faith and peace to respond rather than react when anxiety strikes. Be sure to get your free Emotional Health Workbook for processing your emotions.
I roll over in bed and a fearful thought rises to the surface of my consciousness. My heart speeds up and the friction of stress moves from head to my gut. Breathing shallow in the space between sleep and wakefulness, I try to squelch the fear that spirals with every what if my vulnerable mind conceives.
In full on worry-mode, my thoughts turn to problem solving. How to fix, how to make it better, how to make it through. With a heavy heart, I think about a loved one experiencing hard times and uncertain circumstances.
As I become more aware of my thoughts and feelings, I pray, “Lord, help me to trust You. I know You are good, faithful, merciful, and kind.”
Then the next fearful thought bombards my mind and the anxiety hits again.
I’ve learned to get out of bed to break the pattern and change the environment when anxiety surfaces in the night hours. I go downstairs to sit in my favorite chair and read my Bible. From this position, I am more able to release my concerns, hold fast to faith, and calm my frazzled emotions.
In the quiet, Jesus reminds me that worry doesn’t solve anything, bringing a passage from Matthew 6 to my attention.
What Jesus Teaches about Worry and Anxiety
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Mt. 6:25-34).
Our energy is much better spent on seeking and trusting God. This is easy to say, but so hard to do. To not let anxiety get the best of you takes practice. It requires trust, courage, and perseverance. But most of all, peace is found by releasing of our anxieties into the loving hands of our Father.
We Will Have Reasons to Worry
Our days do have trouble, some far more than others. Jesus teaches us that our provision comes from God who knows what we need. God isn’t caught unaware or unprepared. He hasn’t overlooked or missed our pain. Truth can seem disconnected to our troubles when we face the fears that keep us awake at night.
The size and scope of our problems do not negate the faithfulness and power of God. When I worry, I slip into the old habit of verifying the faithfulness of God based on my experience. It is a coping pattern of my flesh that I learned early in life. Anxiousness is like a default setting in my brain–I go there so quickly.
I used to believe that standing firm in faith meant I’d never struggle with anxiousness, as if worry was the blight of spiritual immaturity and weak faith. I lectured and shamed myself for letting anxiety get the best of me.
I thought greater faith would keep me from waking in the night with fear and the worst-case scenarios winding me up tight. So I determined to outgrow anxiety, to shed it like a snake sheds the skin it no longer needs. Someday I will, but not this side of heaven.
I longed for faith to protect me from problems and pain. It simply doesn’t work that way.“Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Mt. 6:34). This statement acknowledges the reality that we will have trouble.
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Worry and Anxiety are Like a Tennis Match
Over time, and way too much experience with anxious emotions, I’m learning to turn my thoughts and prayers to Father rather than dwell on the what if’s, the unknowns, and the scary possibilities. I wish I could say that it is a once-and-done process, but more often it is more like a tennis match.
Anxious thoughts are like a tennis ball bouncing back and forth over the net, from fear to faith, from worry to trust. Sometimes the enemy lops the ball high and it drops hard. Other times, he serves a fast ball spinning full force.
The more we put our attention on God’s goodness, lovingkindness, faithfulness, and provision, the sooner fear settles down. This power of choosing holy in our anxious moments. When we do, we win the point, but there may come another volley until the match /situation is fully entrusted to God.
Our human bodies are wired with emotions. We will experience the emotions of fear and worry, but growing in faith teaches how to stand firm. Growing in faith helps us to stay in the present as we turn our attention to Christ rather than be overwhelmed by circumstances.
Faith Decisions that Help with Anxiety and Worry:
Anxiety and worry feed off our fear of loss and our desire for control. Let anxiety intensify your dependence on God. Each of these decisions are ways of seeking God, ways of running to Father.
- Trust God wholeheartedly rather than try to figure it out on your own. (Pro. 3:5-6)
- Pray about concerns with gratitude rather than worry (Phil 4:6-7).
- Seek Him first and believe that He will provide. (Mt. 6:33-34)
- Set our mind on things eternal. (Col. 3:2)
- Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and completer of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
- Cast our anxieties on God who cares for us (1 Peter 5:7)
These actions of faith help us deal with anxiety and worry. Friend, if you are anxious about difficult circumstances, a fearful diagnosis, mounting problems, or financial need, I pray these reflections help. Today I simply, and openly, share the conversation of my soul with my God through His word.
Steps to Overcome Anxiety and Worry
- Notice and process your emotions. Learn from the messages your emotions reveal about what you are believing in this moment.
- Feel what you feel without judging, lecturing, or criticizing yourself. If you stuff, discount, or deny your emotions, they will find a way to leak out in ways impact our experience, beliefs, behavior, relationships, and health. Feel it but don’t get stuck in your emotions.
- Make the conscious choice to not let your feelings shape what you believe. Hold fast to the truths of God. Experience your emotions, but believe what is true, not what you feel. Look at your situation from the lens of God’s truth rather than look at God from the lens of your experience.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to give you peace as you release your concerns to God in prayer. Purpose to look for blessings and practice gratitude (Phil. 4:7). It often feels counterintuitive to thank God in the midst of anxiety, but gratitude interrupts the negative thinking that keeps us in anxious patterns. Thanksgiving reminds of of tangible examples of God’s goodness, which can settle our hearts as we release our concerns in prayer.
- Speak God’s truth to your soul—read it, say it, declare it, sing it, write it, share it, embrace it, believe it. And then say it again. And again. As many times as it takes.
- Be kind to yourself. Understand we all feel anxious at times. Refuse to engage in negative self-talk. Remember that fear is a favorite strategy in the enemy’s spiritual warfare.
- Talk through your feelings with a trusted friend or counselor. Talking about concerns can weaken the power of anxious thoughts as we share them aloud with a compassionate listener.
Helpful Questions for Working Through Anxiety, Worry, and Fear
In the emotions chapter of Holy in the Moment, I shared questions that help me work through emotions and stand against anxiety and fear. These processing questions can also help you work through other feelings and thoughts including disappointment, anger, frustration, impatience, discontent, and doubt. When your emotions overwhelm, work through these questions with God. Pray, listen, trust, as you reflect on the following:
- In this situation, what am I really thinking/believing?
- What need is attached to this feeling? (Our deep needs include love, value, worth, acceptance, and security).
- What is true?
- Lord, what is this really about? What do you want me to understand?
- What do You want me to know about You, Lord? In what area am I not trusting You?
- In what way do You want to change me, Lord? What attitude or behavior of my flesh am I choosing instead of You?
- Is there a right I need to surrender? A person I need to forgive?
- How should I embrace truth in this situation?
These are practical steps to choosing faith over fear and staying present with God in the now rather than worrying about the future. Be encouraged by this loving instruction and promise of God:
‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ (Isaiah 41:10 NASB 1995)
With holy imagination, sense your heavenly Father whispering: You don’t have to be afraid. Stop anxiously looking for answers but look to Me. Remember I am your God. Remember I am with you. Believe that I will help you when your faith gives way to fear. I will hold you up. I am here. (based on Isaiah 41:10)
Hold fast to this beautiful promise of fighting for faith over fear. Make the holy choice to trust God one more time. If music helps settle your emotions, you may enjoy the song, Run to the Father from Cody Barnes.
What does it look like for you to trust God in this moment? Do you know someone that would be helped by this post? Please share on social media and send them a personal note of encouragement as you share this article. We need to support each other when we struggle in the hard times of life.
Would you join me in praying for my loved one? How can I pray for you?
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Want more help for dealing with worry and anxiety? Grab my free Emotional Health Workbook for more help processing your emotions. Get access to my Subscriber Library, free with newsletter sign up. Read the story of my battle with anxiety in the first chapter of Holy in the Moment on the book page. (You’ll find it halfway down under Free Downloadable Resources (no email needed).
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