Your heart beats fast, breathing gets shallow. Heaviness seems to cover your chest and your mind can’t stop racing. You don’t feel like yourself. Maybe you’ve even been to the doctor believing that something was wrong with your heart, but the diagnosis was simple – anxiety. If you’ve lived through this, you are not alone. I’ve traveled down that same road too. Sadly, so have almost 40 million Americans according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). You are definitely not alone my friend.

How can we walk in peace and not anxiousness (Phil 4:6)? Here are five simple tools that can interrupt the flow of anxiety in our heart and minds and help bring us back to peace once again.

1. Interrupt anxiety with gratitude.

Gratitude is one of the most effective keys we have to combat anxiety and the reason is simple; it’s built into our brains! Cognitive neuroscientists like Dr. Caroline Leaf have discovered that our thoughts can either be based in fear or in love, but not both at the same time. Jesus said “Perfect loves casts out all fear” in 1 John 4:18, and science is proving it.

Being intentional about thinking love based, gratitude thoughts forces your focus to be on the positive and causes the anxious, fear-based thoughts to fade away. One way to stay mindful is to keep a gratitude journal and jot down 2-3 bullet points every night of things that you were grateful for during the last 24 hours. This is great training for your brain to begin scanning every day seeking the blessings that are often overlooked.

2. Interrupt anxiety with your voice.

Your voice is powerful! Use it to give yourself truth reminders. We can read truth from our Bible but reading silently is only using one sense; your sight. The simple act of reading that verse out loud, you are tripling its power! Why? Because you are now using three senses – your sight, your speech, and your hearing. Whatever the words are that you’re speaking, choose something that is meaningful and helps change your state of mind. Maybe it’s a simple phrase like “F.E.A.R. is False Evidence Appearing Real” or a verse you memorized like 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” Post a verse like Psalms 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” on your mirror, so you can read it throughout the day. Crank up the music to dance and sing along to a fun song like “I Will Survive.” Even better, put on your favorite worship song, sing your heart out and let your faith rise. The most important thing is that you are intentional about using your voice to switch the focus from your fluctuating feelings to a solid truth.

3. Interrupt anxiety with logic

The only thing you have to do to use this tool is to step outside yourself and think. Stop and analyze the situation. What are you feeling afraid of? Is it actually scary? Is it likely to happen? Sometimes the things we find ourselves being afraid of are so far away from being logical that it’s not even funny…or maybe it is! One time at the grocery store, I started having a panic attack because I felt like everyone in the produce section was looking at me! When I called my husband and said that out loud, I started laughing as I realized how silly it was and that ended the attack.

We also have to use good logic to make wise choices about what we put into our body. Caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and even sugar can affect our bodies in a negative way. Keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day as wild swings can also be a huge trigger. Just like your body, be wise about what you are putting into your heart & mind. Choose your music, movies, reading, and what you are listening to carefully, especially around topics that cause you angst. Guard your heart and mind to avoid stoking those fears and causing them to grow.

4. Interrupt anxiety with relaxation

Taking control of the body is just as important to disrupt the flow of anxiety. There are many methods to choose from, but here are some effective tools to calm your body:

Full body relaxation: Sit or lay in a comfortable position. Relax your pinky toe on one foot. Keeping that pinky toe still relaxed, add to it the next toe. When all the toes are relaxed on both feet, then intentionally loosen the muscles surrounding your feet. Slowly keep adding muscle groups to this process, moving up the body but keeping everything below it relaxed, until your entire body is at ease.

Deep breathing: Belly breathing disrupts the quick, shallow breaths that come when we are worried or afraid. Find a chair or lie down on your back and place a pillow, stuffed animal, or even your hand on your belly. Exhale and empty the lungs as much as possible. Count to four while inhaling deeply. Hold for 2 counts and then exhale again counting to four. Repeat for at least 5 – 10 breaths, focusing on the rise and fall of your belly with each breath.

5. Interrupt anxiety with trust

When you have anxiety, your mind and body can feed you an inaccurate version of reality. It’s almost as if your reality “thermometer” is broken and it’s very hard to gauge what is real, what is false, what is dangerous and what is safe. In moments of distress, we can stretch ourselves by learning to trust someone whose “thermometer” is not broken. Ask someone you trust, “Are you worried about that white van down the street?” They will most likely say no and that means that you don’t need to worry about it either. Ask them “Do you smell something weird? Can you breathe?” and trust their answer. Let it become your answer too. Find someone you trust, and lean on their reality “thermometer” more than your own. Ask the silly questions. Be brave.

Scripture tells us over and over again to not be afraid. Our faith brings us assurance that God is for us and not against us and that He cares so much for you and everything you’re going through.

You can pass through every trial, including this one, and still not be overcome by it with God by your side. For some of us, the battle will last longer than others, but keep seeking, keep praying, keep trusting God’s goodness and keep using the tools you’ve been given. You WILL overcome!

~

Are there worries that you’re facing that have severely impacted your wellbeing? Take time today and recommit them to Jesus because He cares. God has also provided the gift of mental health professionals to help when needed. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have.

Julie Hamilton
Julie Hamilton

Building strong and healthy lives one day at a time through Life Builders by Julie Hamilton. A faith based podcaster, speaker, radio & TV host and encourager, Julie has been married for 21 years, is a mom of two powerful young ladies & loves living in Napa Valley.

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