Fear, anxiety, stress, and worry are the enemy’s tools to keep us in bondage. As a mental health clinician, someone who has struggled with worry and anxiety herself, and the author of Breaking Anxiety’s Grip, I’m often asked: “What can I do when I worry or become anxious about the future?” So I thought you might like to know some of the things I do when worry or anxious thoughts tempt me.
6 practical steps that help when tempted with worrisome or anxious thoughts
- I remind myself that I’ve gotten through every single difficult situation in the past 100% of the time. This helps because it reminds me that while situations may be hard, they are rarely impossible, and it keeps me looking for the good that can come out of it when we’re willing to look for it.
- During times that tempt me to worry or become anxious, I list what my concerns are and then ask myself what part of those concerns I can control. Then I assess what the next right step is. Success in one step fuels motivation for the next step. Before you know it, the situation no longer seems overwhelming because you’ve already accomplished part of what initially appeared to be an insurmountable mountain.
- When anxiety and worry start chattering in my head, I focus on my breathing. Take a deep breath in through your nose to the count of three, and then exhale out through your mouth to the count of ten. I do this because it is physiologically impossible to be relaxed and anxious at the same time, and the deep breathing helps your mind and body relax.
- Worry and anxiety can sound like a lot of chatter in my head. When this happens, I “brain dump” my thoughts into a journal. Just getting it on paper can help lessen the anxiety because having my concerns written down helps ensure that I won’t forget to do something that is essential, and leaves the nonessential concerns on a page that I can refer back to if needed. Then I can focus on the next right thing that needs to be done without being distracted by all the concerns that were chattering in my mind.
- Exercise and moving my body always helps…I may not always feel like doing it, but I’m always grateful afterward. Exercise helps release endorphins and naturally occurring neurotransmitters in our brain that improve our mood, lessen stress, and decrease anxiety. Exercise has the added benefit for me of giving me time to process my thoughts and concerns, problem-solve if need be, or just vent to myself and then let things go.
- When I become anxious, my mood can often be affected, so I like to turn up the music. We’ve all got those playlists or songs that when we hear the music, we feel like dancing to the beat, right? Those are the kind of songs that I will play, and while the music doesn’t solve what concerns me, it does help me break the tendency to think on those concerns in an endless loop, and helps me find joy in the little things.
I’d love to hear in the comments below what kinds of things help you when you become worried or anxious.
Other Resources to Overcome Worry and Anxiety
- Free Download: How To Fight Fearful/Anxious Thoughts and Win
- Breaking Anxiety’s Grip Free Study Guide
- Free 7-Day YouVersion Bible Reading Plan for Breaking Anxiety’s Grip
- Your Rx: 40 Scriptures that Combat Worry, Fear, Anxiety and Panic
- Series of 8 Podcasts on Defeating Anxiety in Times of Crisis like the Coronavirus. Visit our Podcast page and start at Episode 50.
More on the award-winning book, Breaking Anxiety’s Grip
No question, we have a lot to worry about. Children, jobs, homes, health, finances, and more. The solution isn’t to rid ourselves of the sources of anxiety – as if we could. Instead, we need to recognize that anxiety originates from a spiritual influence and that we can fight back using the God-given weapons of power, love, and a sound mind.
We can discover true peace in an age of anxiety.
In Breaking Anxiety’s Grip, Dr. Michelle Bengtson shares her own story of emerging from the battle with anxiety as well as the stories of others. She reminds you of your identity as a follower of Christ and of the peace he promises you in spite of everything.
She provides tools to cope with the crushing emotional burden of anxiety now and, more importantly, shows you how to reclaim God’s peace as a way of life so that you can break anxiety’s grip.
Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com, Books-A-Million, and other fine book retailers.
Click here to learn more: Breaking Anxiety’s Grip
These practical steps are so good. Thank you for sharing from your own personal experiences plus all the amazing knowledge you have of the brain and how it functions. You combine those two into a message that truly bring comfort and peace as you also share the scriptures that we need for health and healing, mental restoration and strength. I am so blessed to have access to your resources. I love you Dr. Michelle!!!
Thank you Karen. I’ve read too many books and posts that tell people something like “God says ‘Don’t be anxious’ so don’t” without giving practical tips for how to stop being anxious. My prayer is that these posts, my latest book, Breaking Anxiety’s Grip, and our recent podcast episode will help fill the gap.
Talking back to my fear and anxiety, staying connected to the Truth — this is what works for me as well.
My devotion today was about worrying, specifically the scripture in Matthew 6. I don’t worry much, however, when I do, the first tip works best for me. When I look back on how God has kept me, how he’s provided for me, how he leads me, guides me, directs me and always makes a way for me, worry goes right out the window.
Yvonne, I’m grateful that God doesn’t condemn us when we worry, but that He wants so much better for us.
Great tips again. I am eating up your posts on anxiety while I try to help my teen daughter with hers. laurensparks.net
Thank you for your encouragement!
I don’t know if it will help you and hour daughter, but we recently did an 8-episode series on the podcast about defeating anxiety: https://drmichellebengtson.com/podcast/
And, if you have or have read my latest book, Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises, then I wanted to be sure you knew we have a FREE study guide on my website: https://drmichellebengtson.com/breaking-anxietys-grip-study-guide/
These are good and effective tips that help me deal with anxiety. The concentration on breathing especially helps, it really distracts me from anxious thoughts and I calm down. It’s very difficult for me to cope with anxiety, but I think these tips will help anyone deal with this better. I would also like to add that meditation helps many people, this is also a good way. Thank you for sharing this, you have excellent articles. Have a nice day!
I’m so glad to hear it. I hope the resources I provide on this site will be a blessing and encouragement. Dr. Michelle
Thank you for these practical steps, Michelle! ? Stopping by from #tuneinthursday
Thanks for stopping by with your encouragement Laura!
I am going to share these tips on Facebook because they are so practical and helpful. I have done many of them myself and can attest to them helping me when I am anxious!
Thank you so very much for your willingness to encourage others by sharing this on Facebook. My hope is that it will help many realize they aren’t alone, and that when God tells us not to worry, be afraid, or be anxious, it isn’t because He is mad at us but rather because He loves us.
SO helpful, Michelle, and so timely!! Thank you for this list. You are a gem.
Thanks for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace! I’m featuring you this week.