Beating Anxiety

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.                                                                                                                            Philippians 4:6

Anxiety is the uninvited traveler on life’s journey with us. I tell my clients that anxiety is present with all of us at some time and at some level. It is part of the human condition. Some people indeed struggle with it much more than others, but be assured that all of us must mange the anxiety we carry. It won’t simply vanish. It is our uninvited traveler on the journey of life.

In order to manage anxiety, there are certain game plans that need to be considered. Control of our affairs and decisions is important. While it is true that we cannot control everything, we can control some things. Where there is high anxiety, there is need of high control.

Anxiety is like a cunning enemy, reminding us of the things that won’t work, what might happen, what should have happened. It fills our mind with a stream of thoughts that seems like it cannot be stopped.

And here is where we take control. We manage the battle by picking the battlefield. We decide when and where to “engage the enemy”, because it feels like a war in the mind.

So, in picking the place, I tell people to get it out of here (pointing to my head) and getting out to here (pointing broadly outside of the body). Anxiety does its best work in the silence of self- examination – typically over-examination. The remedy? Occupy yourself with things like writing,  reading, or doing service for others. External focus and commitment to doing something outside of ourselves takes the focus off of our preoccupation with dread- real or imagined.

I also suggest that we change the “when” of the battle. The technique of “designated worry” can be effective. In other words, we control when the worry can take place. We write down the worries- some are worthy of consideration after all- and we decide when we will dedicate the right amount of time to look at the worries. Then, we can come up with a plan. We can control that too.

Paul said, “Be anxious for nothing”. He said that because anxiety is something that must be addressed. He adds, “by prayer and thanksgiving present your petitions to God”. He knew that there must be action taken to manage anxiety. What we cannot control, we pray about, and that is the spiritual remedy.

Tomorrow, we look at the three- pronged approach to managing anxiety.

Prayer: We know that you have assured us to “fear not”, and we trust that you have made provision for us, Amen.

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