Worry and fear are on the rise.
We’re continually assaulted by vast amounts of disturbing information. The future appears uncertain. Frustration and anger spill over onto our roads and into our stores, restaurants, and neighborhoods.
Fears, phobias, post-traumatic stress, panic disorders, social anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors are on the rise. Personal financial concerns, health issues, workplace drama, and family troubles weigh us down. The frantic pace of change leaves us gasping for breath.
No wonder we're anxious. What do we do with this though?
Because of my own past experiences, I found myself wanting to help others. Over the past 30 years I've been an entrepreneur, a missionary, a minister, a pastor, a writer, a chaplain and a grief specialist and counselor. I've struggled just like everyone else, had my peaks and valleys. I like to say, "I'm a fellow struggler." From my vast experience working with thousands of people from many parts of the globe, I recommend these 5 anxiety management tips - I call this the 5-Step Anti-Anxiety Prescription.
Step 1: Limit your exposure to anxiety triggers.
Triggers are everywhere. Anything can stir anxiety in us, anytime, anywhere.
Consider the news and social media. How much is helpful? When does the info we're exposed to become detrimental to our own hearts?
People can be triggers too. Some individuals (or groups) agitate us and increase our anxiety. Regularly interacting with certain people may not be healthy for us.
Who and what is not healthy for you right now? Eliminate your exposure to that, or at least limit it.
Step 2: Pursue peace and well-being.
What calms you? What habits invite peace into your chaos? What brings you joy, even amid messy challenges?
Who brings a smile to your face? Whose presence calms your heart? Who brings you a sense of safety?
Intentionally cultivate peace by developing health-producing habits (deep breathing, meditation, nutritious eating, good hydration, exercise, etc.). Get around positive, affirming people.
Don’t let your heart be hijacked. Proactively go after peace. Nurture habits and relationships that promote hope and well-being.
Step 3: Get clear on your purpose.
In deeper conversations I often end up asking some version of the question, "Why are you here?" Some are taken aback, staring at me like I'm an alien. Most blink and stammer, as if they should know the answer but have no idea what it is.
If we’re unaware of our purpose, we begin to live a circumstance-based existence. We’re at the mercy of whatever situation we find ourselves in, floating swiftly along wherever the current might take us. We’re reactors without a clear compass.
Anxiety, frustration, anger, and depression are the natural results.
If you're serious about living well, you must have a clear compass. Many things will attempt to invade, mess with your heart, and steal your peace. Having a firm grip on your purpose can help keep these marauders at bay.
Let your purpose define what you do, how, and with whom. Wandering aimlessly increases anxiety. Purposeful living equips you to manage it.
Step 4: Make grieving well a priority.
We've all been wounded.
Unresolved grief is a huge anxiety-producer. Grief isn’t merely about death, either. Sexual abuse, domestic violence, estrangements, break-ups, betrayals, job terminations, moves, deep disappointments, failures, missed opportunities, abandonment, etc. are all losses. When our heart has been hit the pain can be immense.
Usually, we buck up, stuff it, and go on. Over time, the load of unprocessed grief grows. Soon, we’re carrying a massive amount of junk that profoundly influences every area of life.
Clean out the old closets in your mind and heart. Process past losses. Read. Educate yourself on grief and grieving. Talk, write, or art it out. Identify the lies you believe and start telling yourself the truth.
Seek the help you need. Forgive. Release. Invest in yourself. One great gift you can give to the world is the healthiest you possible.
Pursue healing. Learn to grieve well. It’s messy, but worth it.
Step 5: Be patient with yourself (and others).
We want change, now. Yesterday.
Anxiety, however, will not be easily shooed away. It will continue to knock, pester, and – if possible – invade. This 5-step anti-anxiety prescription takes time. Don’t let that discourage you. Start now.
Patience is required. Take the long view. Stay determined. Be intentional. One moment, one step at a time.
It’s time to heal.
Anxiety is challenging. Limit your exposure to anxiety triggers. Proactively pursue peace-bringing people and activities. Know your purpose. Grieve well. Be patient. Together, these can be a potent anti-anxiety prescription.
You must heal. You’re too important not to.
Here’s to peace amid the chaos…
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