Three Godly Habits for Relieving Your Anxiety
We all know the verse…
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Among Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11, this verse is well known for its ability to be inserted into difficult times without context. It is often used as a one-size-fits-all solution to anxiety, worry, and fear. Many people quoted this verse to my wife and I when we had uncertainty about employment. Although it was a sweet gesture, the encouragements typically fell flat. The verse itself did not comfort us. Rather, the application of this verse and a deep work in our hearts did.
The truth is, our culture struggles with anxiety at an almost deadly level. Anti-anxiety medications are at an all-time high and are being taken by people even as young as ten years old. Even worse, it spreads like a virus. When parents are anxious, their children become anxious. When bosses are anxious, their employees become anxious. It becomes a feedback loop of worry, doubt, and fear.
As Christians, we have hope in knowing that Jesus desires to guard our hearts and minds and give us a peace that surpasses all understanding. Here are three habits we can employ to walk in less worry.
1. Verbalize Your Anxiety Without Complaining
It says “Let your requests be made known to God…” But doesn’t God already know our requests? Doesn’t he know every need we have? Of course. But the act of coming to him with our worries, requests, and anxieties proves as a very transformative moment. When we verbalize our troubles in the context of coming to Jesus for help instead of our normal routine of complaining, it changes the way we view our problems. All of the sudden, these aren’t issues that make us victims. They are opportunities for us to draw closer to our God and watch him work.
We may be used to verbalizing our anxiety with complaining. However, it may be a good and godly practice to verbalize our anxiety with hope that God will work. In so doing, we take the power out of our anxiety. We remove its grip over our attitudes.
2. Take Purposeful Steps to Remove Things That Bring Anxiety
This point may seem a little less spiritual, but it stems from the concept of cutting off anything that causes you to sin or stumble. There are things in our lives that breed anxiety, worry, and doubt. Certain habits, devices, and relationships slowly keep our minds in a constant state of angst.
For example, our televisions, phones and computers are continually flushing us with news and media that fill our brains with more worry, more doubt, and more fear. Perhaps making boundaries around how and when we consume our devices can prove helpful.
Staying up late with our phones near our faces will affect our sleep, so maybe we should put the phones down after 8pm. We know that a high sugar diet can increase anxiety, so maybe we can reduce the amount of sodas and pastries we consume. And perhaps there are some co-workers or friends that are continually causing drama in our lives that need to be talked to less.
It can be different for everybody. However one thing is true for every person: God desires for you to be free from that which robs your joy. Are Netflix, stressful relationships, or devices robbing you of any joy in your life?
3. Serve Those Who Struggle
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:13)
A part of operating in freedom from worry is serving others. It helps us to be less consumed with self and more consumed with the Kingdom of God. Sometimes the only thing keeping us from a worry-free life is a shift in focus. We can be so focused on our own baggage that we forget there is an entire world that can be affected by our gifts. You have something to offer. You are valuable. God has knitted you in a specific way to meet the needs of people around you. The more we focus on that, the less inward-focused we become.
Now let me be clear. I am not asking you to ignore your issues and bury yourself in other people’s problems. Too many people hide from their demons by helping others. What I am saying is allow yourself to get outside yourself. I know that I can be wrapped up in worry when I dwell too much on my own well-being.