Whether it’s the well-being of our kids, the health of our family members, job security, or various national and international crises, everywhere we look there seems to be something to worry about.
But here’s the thing: worry is utterly useless. It can’t fix a problem; it robs us of peace; and it doesn’t help us become better people. Sure, some of us are more prone to anxiety, overthinking, and brooding than others, but all of us can learn how to worry less and live with greater trust and surrender. Here are five ways to do that:
1. Practice the present moment.
Worry may be part of the human condition, but even Jesus had something to say about it in the Bible: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matt 6:34).
Note that Jesus doesn’t say that life has no troubles; He says that each day has it’s own troubles and we should focus only on those. Living in the present moment doesn’t happen overnight — it takes practice. Which means it takes intentional action. The more you practice living in the moment by focusing on whatever is before you, the easier it becomes. And as you do, your worry will lessen because you’re no longer thinking about what may happen tomorrow or next week or next year.
2. Plan for tomorrow.
So does that mean we shouldn’t think about tomorrow at all? That wouldn’t make much sense, would it? Instead of worrying about tomorrow, though, we should plan for it. Every busy mom knows the anxiety of realizing it’s 6:00 p.m. and she has no clue what’s for dinner. But if she’s created a meal plan for the week and the ingredients are in the house, she can rest easy. Planning for tomorrow helps ease certain kinds of worry.
We all have fears and sometimes they can hold us hostage to a future that doesn’t exist — and may never exist. The best way to combat fear is to focus on its opposite — love.
3. Entrust yourself and your loved ones to God’s providence.
No matter how much we try, we can’t control everything in our lives. We must learn to trust God. When you wake up— and whenever you begin to worry during the day — stop for a moment and give your concerns to God. Consider adopting a short and simple prayer such as, "Lord, I abandon myself to your will." Or, "Jesus, I trust in You." As your trust and surrender grows, your worry will lessen.
4. Manage your anxiety.
Have you ever noticed that worry begets worry? The more of it we entertain, the more it seems to happen. But if we can manage our baseline anxiety and maintain a sense of hope and peace, we will worry less about potential — and even real — challenges that come our way. So make a point to keep a check on your stress levels by eating right, exercising, taking at least ten minutes a day for reflection and prayer, getting plenty of sleep, nurturing your relationships, doing less, getting out into nature, and maintaining regular rituals that help dissipate stress.
5. Fight fear with love and gratitude.
Worry is ultimately about fear — the fear of what might happen. We all have fears and sometimes they can hold us hostage to a future that doesn’t exist — and may never exist. The best way to combat fear is to focus on its opposite — love. One way to flood your life with more love is be more grateful. For example, if you can’t stop worrying about the medical test results you’re waiting for, start listing all the things you’re grateful for in the situation — your knowledgable doctors, a first-rate hospital, loved ones who support you, your faith, etc.
Follow these tips for worrying less and you’ll be on your way to greater peace and joy in your daily life.
“Don't be afraid to be afraid. Because it is an emotion, fear is emotionally neutral. It only becomes a problem when it prevents us from doing what God wants us to do. Whenever you are afraid recognize you are given the chance to trust in Jesus. As you continue to take advantage of these opportunities, you will find your fear decreasing and your faith increasing.”
Excerpt from Stop Worrying Start Living
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