For the Christian, I believe the hardest part of overcoming anxiety is recognizing that it even exists. As a believer, we know that there is peace to be found in Christ. Scripture tells us that the load He has for us to bear is easy and light. We are reminded to lay our burdens at the feet of Christ.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
So is it wrong for a Christian to have anxiety?
Well, yes….and no.
Luke 16:13 tells us “no servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
If we are going to carry Christ’s burden, which He promised was easy and light, we are going to have to lay down the burdens and cares of the world. It is when we try to carry around both, that we often find ourselves struggling with stress and anxiety.
Remember, though, that Jesus said He will lighten our burdens, not remove them. When I speak of “overcoming anxiety”, I am not trying to imply that we can get rid of it for good. For the Christian, it is how we live with anxiety that helps us overcome it.
6 HELPS FOR CHRISTIANS WITH ANXIETY
- Remain Faithful to God. – The most important step a Christian with anxiety can do, is to remain faithful to God. Don’t allow anxiety to take you out of church! I often found that when I forced myself to go to church, the singing and preaching was enough to distract me out of my near panic attacks. If you have not already been faithful in your Bible reading and prayer time, now is the time to make that a habit!
- Think of Others. – The worst thing a Christian with anxiety can do, is to think about how they are feeling. Thinking about how horrible we feel, only intensifies our feelings and sucks us into unhealthy thought patterns. The best remedy for self-thinking, is thinking of others. Make a prayer list of others who are in difficult situations. Bake some bread for a sick neighbor, bring some cookies to your local fire department, or write some get-well cards to sick church members. Make it your daily goal to do something kind for someone else.
- Change Your Health Habits. – This is the hardest advice for me to follow, but it certainly is true. Having healthy habits can reduce the severity of anxiety. Making healthy eating choices can increase the amounts of vitamins and minerals our bodies need to stay healthy. Exercising releases endorphin’s that not only make us feel good, but reduces stress. Talking to an herbalist or nutritionist can also help. Taking natural supplements your body may be lacking can not only decrease the duration of anxiety, it can help us remain healthy in countless other ways!
- Slow Down! – We live in a fast-paced society where there is always something to do. Gone are the days where the family sits on the front porch in the evenings to listen to the crickets sing. Instead, we are bustling our children from one activity to the next, feeling obligated to attend every birthday party, and every event offered. As Christians, we need to have a balance in our lives. Make sure you carve out time for some rest and relaxation, at least once a week! Family movie or game nights are great ways to have a relaxing evening! Maybe relaxing to you is a day spent on a trail at the park, or walking through the mall. However you decide to slow down, don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about it.
- Stay Busy! – Yes, I know, I just told you to slow down! But I didn’t mean for you to slow your mind down. When we find ourselves in endless cycles of worry, we need to direct our thoughts on other things. Listening to music or audio books are great ways to keep your mind busy while going about your daily tasks. Gardening, crafting, playing a musical instrument, taking an exercise class, writing in a journal, or walking around the block are other ways you can stay busy and focused.
- Surround Yourself with Positivity – It is important to remember that “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine”! While it is not possible, nor practical, to be “merry” all day long, you can surround yourself with positivity. It is easy for anyone suffering from anxiety to go into seclusion from the world. While it’s not a bad idea to turn off Fox News and talk radio, it is a bad idea to cut yourself off from friends and family. Now is the time, more than ever, that you need be around merry hearts! One word of caution, however, is to be careful to limit your time with those who “enable” you to be negative, or dwell on your anxiety.
While I still have days where anxiety rears it’s ugly head, I am able to overcome it and still get on with my day. If I go to Christ right away, He always makes it bearable, and He will give me rest from it.
If this article has helped encourage you, please be sure to share it with someone else who may also struggle with anxiety. Be sure to tune in next week for “Overcoming Anxiety Series #3 – What Does God Think About Anxiety?”