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RX for Anxiety

Posted by NancyWilliams on January 5, 2011

Anxiety. Fear. Worry.

If we’re not careful, these negative emotions will creep into our lives and attempt to steal our joy. While we tend to assume we know how things will unfold as we move through our days, we realize uncertainty is, indeed, a fact of life. Most of the time we accept that premise, acknowledge our concern and respond with assurance, “I’ll handle it.” Then we go on with our daily routine, dismissing any anxious thoughts from taking hold.

However, in these present times, uncertainty is right here before us, weaving its way into our minds and conversations. World peace, national security, a sound economy. Financial stability, health, safety and well-being for our families. Peace within our hearts. Can we achieve these things? Can we maintain them?

Many of us struggle to keep concern from evolving into anxiety and caution from fueling fear. The result? Stress. A constant worry stirs our minds, drains our energy and robs us of joy. We seek the help of counselors as we search for ways to cope. Anxiety drives us to doctors’ offices and emergency rooms in increasing numbers daily. We meet fellow sufferers at the pharmacy staring at row after row of everything from antacids and headache remedies, to muscle and tension relievers. Chiropractors’ clinics overflow with people so physically wound up that their bodies can’t function as God intended. Massage therapists dig deep into our muscles to work out the knots and help us relax.

While these treatment options may bring relief for the moment, we then find ourselves facing a new day with new challenges and tensions. The anxiety is back, knocking at our emotional door as the cycle continues. So, how can we hold onto concern and caution without embracing worry and fear as we cope with this stress?

Self-Care Tips

(1) Gather enough information to assess the situation and determine what is and is not within your control. The Serenity Prayer can guide your mind in this direction. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Narrowing your focus to those areas you can control will help you feel less overwhelmed and better able to develop a plan of action.

(2) Take care of yourself by maintaining a healthy diet and getting plenty of rest along with exercise. Take time out from tension-producing situations whenever possible. Sit quietly in a calm environment and take deep, slow breaths to help your body settle down, your muscles relax and your mind think more clearly. Take a long walk followed by a warm bath or shower to draw comfort from the warmth and serenity of nature. A massage and vigorous exercise are two other productive ways to release worry.

(3) Look for emotional support from family members, friends, clergy and church groups that offer encouragement with a kind word, a smile, a handshake or a hug. Feeling connected to others is vital to our emotional health.

(4) Experience the healing powers of humor and music. Watch a funny movie. Read a humorous book. Share a joke with a friend. Laugh with a child. Listen to music that will soothe your soul.

(5) Pay attention to your self-talk. Instead of dwelling on uncertainties and negative possibilities, flood your thoughts with positive messages.

(6) Turn to your faith. Prayer and meditation can soothe the mind and calm the soul, whether in the company of others gathered in worship or in a quiet place alone. When feeling overwhelmed and uncertain, calm your troubled spirit with the awareness of God’s protection and provision.

(7) Step outside yourself and find someone you can help. Acts of kindness toward others will shift your focus and lift your spirit, reminding you of your own blessings and encouraging connection with those around you.

(8) Consult with a physician and a professional counselor if you have difficulty managing anxiety.

Yes, life is uncertain; but you do have this day. This moment. If anxiety is stirring within you, find a quiet place and be still. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Let God’s presence and his peace fill your heart with hope.

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