I am beyond honored to share some life-giving thoughts from my lovely sister Katie Deck in today’s guest post. Katie is wise, caring, and immensely talented and creative. (You can follow her as she paints and draws beautiful artwork on Instagram at @katiedeckstudio.) With anxiety being a particularly relevant discussion during these strange times, Katie has some very helpful ideas for helping us find peace. We pray that these practical thoughts will help and bless you in your walk.
“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?”
— Matthew 6:25-26 ESV
“Do not be anxious,” has always been a hard saying for me. For years I’ve wondered, how can you just not be anxious? There always seems to be something to be worried about. Am I prepared for my meeting tomorrow? Will I do well on this test? Will my friend make it through surgery okay? Will my loved one beat cancer?
But Jesus tells us, “Do not be anxious.” Be still. Trust.
So here are 12 things that I have used to help me in times of anxiety. Hopefully they will help you, too.
1. Read your Bible
Make intentional time in your schedule each day to immerse yourself in God’s word. I like to read first thing in the morning before the clutter of the day gets in the way. It’s just me, my Bible, and my bowl of oatmeal. It might mean that we have to wake up a little earlier, but it is so worth it. Here are some passages that help me when I’m feeling anxious: Isaiah 43, Psalm 46, Psalm 55:22, 1 Peter 5:6-11, Philippians 4:6-7, and Matthew 6:25-34. Keep a list of your favorite peace-giving passages that you can refer back to whenever you need them.
Pray that God will give you strength and courage and help you with your anxieties. Pray earnestly. Thank God for how he has blessed you, mentioning your blessings by name. It’s hard to be fearful when you’re thankful.
Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
— Psalm 55:22
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
— 1 Peter 5:6-11
Take the swirling thoughts in your head and put them on paper. The practice of journaling helps clear the mind. I personally find it helpful to do stream of conscience writing where I just start writing. I don’t censor my thoughts, and I don’t go back to edit. I just write. And when I’m done writing, I’ll go back and read it. Sometimes I’ll even wait a day or two to read it. This helps give me perspective and helps me see that often my fears aren’t based in reality.
4. Take a walk
I have a few favorite local hiking spots that I go to when I get the chance. Or I’ll walk around my neighborhood if I don’t have as much time. Being in nature refuels us. We get to marvel at God’s creation, breathe in fresh air, and get our hearts pumping. It also gets us away from the noise of life. Taking a walk is also the perfect time to talk with God or an encouraging friend.
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.
— Romans 1:20
5. Talk to a (sensible) friend
Instead of talking with people who feed your fears, surround yourself with godly people who will encourage you and be honest with you. Oftentimes, my anxieties are rooted in fears, not facts. My husband has mastered the art of how to encourage and calm me while also being honest with me.
6. Stay away from social media and news outlets
When we see the world going crazy, it’s hard to not join in the panic. Panic spreads like a wildfire, thanks to cable news and the plethora of apps at our fingertips. Give yourself a limit on how much time each day you can spend watching news or scrolling on social media. As Seth Godin said, “Being up-to-date on the news is a trap and a scam. Five minutes a day is all you need.” Or better yet, delete Facebook, Twitter, and other apps from your phone. You’ll feel much better for it.
7. Eat well
It’s amazing how what we eat impacts our bodies and our minds. When I eat a bunch of fried food, I feel lazy and gross and cranky. When I eat a balanced meal, I feel alert and energetic. Eating right isn’t only good for our figure, it is also good for our mental and emotional health.
When I’m feeling anxious, I tend to lay on the couch in my comfy clothes and veg out in front of the TV. But when we get up and go to the gym or do yoga, we genuinely feel better. It’s like sweating our anxieties out. Try to find an exercise that you enjoy (you won’t do it if you hate it) and get up and move a few times a week.
9. Do a hobby you enjoy
Make time to do the things you love. Play a sport. Read a book. Paint. Play an instrument. Do something fun that can help relieve the anxiety you feel.
10. Listen to calming music
I have few playlists I listen to to help calm me when I feel my anxiety growing. Try making your own, or give this playlist of worship music I made a listen.
11. Prioritize sleep
If you stay up late and then wake up early for work or to take care of your kids, chances are you are you won’t be able to function as well as you should. Not getting enough quality sleep can really put a damper on your mood. There is a reason why the phrase, “Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?” exists. Can’t sleep because your brain won’t be quiet? Try journaling before you go to bed to help empty your mind.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
— Psalm 4:8
12. Go to a Christian counselor when needed
Sometimes we need help and guidance from a professional, and that is completely okay. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. You are not less. You are not weak. We go to the doctor when we feel sick. We should go to a counselor when we are mentally unwell, too.
I’d like to leave you with the words of Psalm 46. May God’s words bring peace to your soul today.
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Header image: Chad Madden via Unsplash
Ocean photo (middle, with inserted quote): Ant Rozetsky via Unsplash
Woods photo (bottom, with inserted scripture): Joan Oger via Unsplash