3 Ways to Reduce Anxiety in Stressful Times
Hey guys! I think we can all agree that it's getting pretty crazy and intense out there. You can almost feel the tangible anxiety in the atmosphere everywhere you go. I took a walk today and it was like the people I passed on the street had this wall up around them... "Don't come closer than 6 feet!" I would be lying if I said I'm immune to the anxiety. I've definitely been feeling it too.
Classes are being cancelled, schools are out, coffee shops and restaurants are closing. There are less and less people on the roads and on the street. Toilet paper is hard to come by... We're all trying to be respectful of the government and not endanger each other and all of that... it's a lot right now.
If you're like me, you're feeling a little lost and like you're floating. Things just aren't the same. They are shifting. And we all know that at some point, this too shall pass, but what do we do in the meantime? How do we stay sane, happy, productive people when the world around us is literally shutting down?
I have SO many thoughts going through my mind, but as I sat down to write, it really crystalized to these three things:
Be Still and Look Up - Toward God. The uncertainty around us wants to grab all of your attention and make it seem like we NEED to focus on this situation and fix it. But the honest truth is... we can't. Not by focusing on it. All of the factors affecting us are outside of our control. The only thing we can control is how we walk through this situation. If we can reign in our attention and look up to God, the worries of the world will fall away and peace will come. I do this by literally sitting still and focusing on the name of Jesus. Sometimes that's the only way I can still the thoughts that are swirling in my mind. I focus on His name and I open my spirit. I literally think of LETTING GO of trying to solve anything and intentionally RELEASE my mind and heart. I just let go and look UP at Him. I don't know if that translates in words - it's kind of hard to describe, but I can feel the difference. There are times I'm sitting there saying Jesus over and over, but I can feel that I'm still holding tightly. So I have to take a deep breath and think of letting go of everything in this world that's distracting me and look up. When I do, my whole soul, body and spirit get lighter. I can feel the tension leave and peace comes in.
Stay Present and Be Thankful - I know we hear this all the time, but it's so true. God had to remind me of this the other day... He told me, "Drink in the moments of beauty. Stay in this moment and appreciate it for all that it is. As you do that, your mind will still and you will see solutions." This is really one the BIGGEST keys to getting rid of anxiety and finding peace. The definition of anxiety is literally looking into the future and imagining what MIGHT happen. Not what HAS HAPPENED but what MIGHT happen. If you're shut up in your house right now or worried about whether or not things will ever go back to normal, try taking a look around you and seeing ALL that you have to be thankful for in this moment. As I write this, I'm not sure about a lot of things in my life and what my future looks like in a lot of ways. Those worries try to WEIGH on my mind ALL the time. But what I have found is that worrying NEVER produces an answer. It just ties me up in knots and paralyzes me. When I can take a deep breath and look around me and realize that IN THIS MOMENT I have everything I need, the fear ceases and I can see the next right thing to do. Try it. Make a list of 10 things you are thankful for right now. It can be as simple as the fact that you have a warm house or for toilet paper. ;)
DREAM! I know... this sounds super impractical right now, but I feel this so strongly I'm almost crawling out my skin. The circumstances around us could make it really easy to shut down our dreams and focus on survival and nothing more. But I think we have a once in a lifetime opportunity right now to pull down wisdom and answers from heaven and become the SOLUTION to a lot of the world's problems. Now is THE TIME to dream. Not the time to stop dreaming! I was reminded today that the Great Renaissance took place not that long after the Black Plague swept Europe (especially Italy - which happened to be the birthplace of the Renaissance). I looked it up and some historians credit the Black Plague with having a LOT to do with creating the conditions for the Renaissance to take place because so much in culture shifted and changed. We could be standing in a time and place in history very similar to that. If you are a dreamer, light your candle and SHINE BRIGHT because the world needs to see you. Your hope, your joy, your perspective and your solutions. Now is YOUR TIME. Not to mention the fact that dreaming and imagining the future you want to see have been proven to have a dramatic effect on the life you live. If you dream it, you will become it.
I'm going to add one more even though I said 3 ways... the 4th way to reduce anxiety is to STAY CONNECTED. Don't let yourself isolate. Reach out when you need help and reach out to BE HELP when you are strong enough. We all need to stay as connected as we can during these times. With that, instead of leaving you with a truth for the day, I'm going to ask a question... Please comment below with your answer.
WHAT IS THE DREAM IN YOUR HEART RIGHT NOW? Tell us about it! You never know how your dream might inspire someone else!