How to Overcome Anxiety and Find Peace
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2011 7 Jul
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D and Ann McMurray's book, Overcoming Anxiety, Worry, and Fear, (Revell, 2011).
The news in our fallen world is full of problems to worry about – from crime and economic woes, to disease and environmental damage. Your own personal life may also present with a lot of issues that make you feel anxious – such as a health condition to manage, a stressful marriage to deal with, or a frustrating job search.
But no matter what challenging circumstances you encounter, you don’t need to be anxious about them. It’s possible to experience peace in any situation when you’re relying on Jesus – the source of true peace – to help you deal with it.
Here’s how you can overcome anxiety and find peace:
Count the cost of anxiety.Realize just how much an anxious life costs you. Physically, anxiety can harm your health in a variety of serious ways, from causing high blood pressure to interfering with normal sleep and digestion. Mentally, anxiety can crowd healthy thoughts out of your mind, making you a prisoner to a constant stream of worries that limit your ability to be productive. Spiritually, anxiety can distance you from God because it contrasts with trusting Him, and it can also steal the joy that God wants you to experience in a relationship with Him.
Objectify your thoughts.Taken collectively, your anxious thoughts are like a monster that you’ve created by the way in which you perceive what happens in your life. Ask God to help you view your life from the correct perspective so you can recognize what’s real versus what’s false and what’s true versus what’s untrue. When an anxious thought enters your mind, ask yourself whether or not it really represents objective facts. Also, keep in mind that you’re not powerless against your fears. Even if the worst of your worries were to come true, there is much you can do to deal with them in the power that God offers you.
Live in the present.Anxiety will dredge up stressful memories from the past or make you worry about what may happen in the future. But God wants you to live in the present, trusting Him to help you live every day that He gives you for the best.
Trade pessimism for optimism.God has given you the power to choose whether you think negative or positive thoughts. Ask God to strengthen your ability to reject negative thoughts and dwell on all that’s positive in your life. Fill your mind with the positive truths of Scripture by reading the Bible often, studying it, memorizing, and applying it.
Simplify your life.When your life is cluttered with too many activities, the stress of trying to keep up with it all can fuel anxiety. So examine your schedule and consider what you can cut out to eliminate unnecessary stress and anxiety. Pray for the wisdom you need to identify specific changes to make, so that your activities truly reflect your priorities, which in turn reflect the values that God wants you to have. Avoid procrastinating about tasks you have to complete; instead, set reasonable goals each day and do your best to meet them. If you can’t do all you’d hoped to do, ask God to remind you of His grace, and relax knowing that simply doing your best is enough.
Confess each of your worries in prayer.Pray about every worry that enters your mind, confessing it to God and asking Him to handle it according to His will. Choose to trust that God will intervene in your life to accomplish good in every situation you give over to Him. Rely on the strength God gives you to manage your part in each worrisome situation according to how He guides you.
Give yourself permission to relax.Allow yourself to relax regularly, no matter what kind of circumstances you’re facing. Use relaxation techniques such as breathing slowly and deeply, relaxing different muscles throughout your body, and getting away from noise to spend some time calming down in silence. Make a habit of meditating on God’s goodness and love for you, and let that time usher His peace into your soul.
Reduce your fears by exposing yourself to them gradually.Cut your fears down to manageable sizes by doing a little bit of whatever activity you’re afraid of regularly. Then, step by step, you’ll discover that God’s power working in you is much more powerful than your fears.
Take charge of your health.Poor health habits can fuel anxious feelings. So make sure that you get enough sleep and exercise, eat a healthy diet (that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, limits sugar, and eliminates caffeine), and drink plenty of water.
Turn down the volume of anxiety and turn up God’s voice.Keep listening to God more than your anxious thoughts and feelings. As you continue choosing to redirect your attention away from anxiety and toward trusting God, your anxiety will continue decreasing, and the peace you experience will increase!
Adapted from Overcoming Anxiety, Worry, and Fear copyright 2011 by Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D, with Ann McMurray. Published by Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Ada, Mich., www.revellbooks.com.
Gregory L. Jantz, PhD, is a popular speaker and award-winning author of more than 25 books, including Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuseand Every Woman’s Guide to Managing Your Anger. He is the founder of The Center for Counseling & Health Resources, Inc., (www.aplaceofhope.com) in the state of Washington.
Ann McMurray has coauthored several books, including Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse and Every Woman's Guide to Managing Your Anger. She too lives in Washington and works at The Center for Counseling & Health Resources, Inc.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Contact Whitney at: [email protected]to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience.