Some days just looking at my calendar and listening to the news makes me want to go home and hide under my covers! There are so many things swirling around us each day that can bring us to a place of great anxiety.
Social media and the internet bring both good and bad news to us more swiftly than our hearts and minds can handle sometimes. And somehow when you step into a leadership position, the weight of not only our lives but those we lead can suddenly feel like more than we can bear.
So how do we function under this kind of anxiety? What does God say about the things that seem to make it hard to breath and even harder to sleep? Thankfully He understands and has much to say about how we can handle the anxiety in our lives.
1) Recognize WHO is actually in control.
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21
God created the world and created you. He is not surprised by anything that happens to you or even by anything you do. Too often I think something is my responsibility when essentially God is the one responsible. He doesn’t expect me to get everything right or be absolutely perfect. What a relief to hand back the circumstance or issue that is causing me anxiety. He can handle it!
2) Remember the basics.
I have found in my own life that when I begin to really wrestle with anxiety, it helps to slow down and take a look at how well I’m handling the simple things. Am I getting enough sleep? If not, even a small hiccup in my day can feel much more overwhelming than it actually is. Am I eating in a timely manner and drinking enough water? Sounds silly but truly if I’m not doing this basic kind of self-care, it negatively impacts how I feel physically as well as my mental and emotional health. Is my calendar just way too packed? Am I taking time each week for Sabbath and rest? These basic questions and regaining balance in these areas usually help my anxiety level tremendously.
3) Resist trying to control everything.
There are some things, honestly many things, that are just simply out of my control. When I keep returning in my heart and mind to a situation or circumstance that is out my control, I am setting myself up for anxiety and frustration. I need to stay in my lane! There are things though that I can control such as how I treat myself, how I treat others, what I believe, and how I respond. I need to focus on controlling the controllables and leave the rest to God. He knows we have a tendency to struggle with this.
“Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7
4) Respond with gratitude.
The Bible instructs us many times to give thanks (Psalm 107:1, I Thessalonians 5:18, Colossians 4:2). We get to choose our perspective and our focus. When I am focused on the hard and scary things in my life, then I become anxious. However, when I choose to focus on the many things in my life for which I’m thankful, I can find peace and joy. Gratitude is a powerful tool to use against the enemy’s attempts to discourage and distract us. In Philippians 4:6-7 we are given a clear directive on this.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
There is no way to escape anxiety completely, but thankfully God understands and gives us the tools to handle it when it comes. In Psalm 139:23-24, David writes:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24
Ask Him to show you why you are anxious and what you need to turn back over to Him. He wants to help!