Do you feel stressed or overwhelmed in your life right now? Maybe work is getting more difficult, a situation at home has become unbearable, or you are just feeling alone and confused with no explanation at all. Here are seven tips to help you when anxious feeling arise:
Take Deep Breaths
When your breathing becomes shallow and rapid, your body is trying to get oxygen to your brain as quick as it can. The best way to get oxygen to your brain so your nervous system will know to move to a state of calm, is to take deep breaths. Inhale from your diaphragm and hold that breath for four seconds. Exhale slowly through your mouth. Work on doing this a couple times a day which will help you be prepared when the anxious feeling arises.
You have this fuel surging through your body when these anxious and overwhelming feelings attack. Adrenaline, hormones, oxygen all mix together needing somewhere to go. If it doesn’t burn, it will in a sense burn you by causing uncomfortable feelings in your body. By getting active, it gives this fuel a place to go. Taking a brisk walk, jumping jacks, running, or even skipping for a few minutes will make a huge difference.
Move from “WHAT IF” to “WHAT IS”
Stress can cause our emotional brain to sit in overdrive. When we live here mentally, we can go to scary thoughts and catastrophic scenarios. These images we build up in our minds look very real, but they are not our reality. Instead of living in this “what if” mindset, ground yourself in the reality you are in at the moment. Focus on where your feet are standing, smells around you, things you can touch, and things you can see. This will snap your brain back into the cognitive state you need to be in to know you are ok.
Attitude of Gratitude
Did you know the brain cannot think in an anxious state while thinking in a state of gratitude? It blocks the anxious thoughts from taking over. By having this attitude of thankfulness, your body can feel peace and joy. Philippians 4:6 tells us that we can talk to God about EVERY situation, and that we can be thankful in all things. I learn a lot from my kids in this realm. I challenge you to be as specific as they are about everything you have to be grateful for in your life.
Change Negative Thinking to Positive Thinking
Your thoughts are powerful. They will literally affect the way your body feels and acts. When we stay in a negative place mentally, we will go to that place physically. The same is true with positive thinking. If we stay in this same chapter of Philippians, verse 8 tells us to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Imagine how different your day will look by thinking on these things!
When stress is consuming you, one thing I have found to be helpful is writing down what my thoughts are in that moment. I will grab a notebook, a blank piece of paper, or even the note section in my phone. I do a brain dump if you will. Getting all of the negative out makes room to put good and calming thoughts back in. Click this link to a great article if you need some help in the art of journaling.
Ask for Help
Talking to a friend, pastor, or safe person you have can be huge in helping you with the struggle of anxious feelings. Prayer is another way you can reach out to God and ask Him for help. Be honest and share with Him where you are. Ask Him for the guidance you need to trust that He will lead you in the direction you need to go.
If you have been in an anxious and overwhelmed state for six months or longer, you may be in the need of help through counseling. I know what it feels like to be paralyzed and unable to operate in the day to day tasks. I also know the shame that keeps you from reaching out because you are scared of being rejected or the only one. Friend, I can promise you today you are not alone. So many are battling what you are battling and having someone to just listen to them has been life changing. My doctor and a counselor were game changers for me. There is no shame in getting help! You are worth it to take that next step.
If you are needing extra help in dealing with anxiety, check out my new devotional Anxiety Elephants. It is a 31 day devotional designed to help you stomp out your anxiety. There are action steps included each day to help you continue in your journey of taking one step at a time.