If you’re struggling with anxiety as a Christian, here are eight tools that can help take you from stressed out to calm. In this article, we’ll teach you how learning bible verses can change your thinking, why meditation works, a powerful breathing technique to relax you even in the middle of a panic attack, how taking a break from the news and social media might be the thing you need, why you should ask others to pray for you and the power of exercise and keeping a journal when you have anxiety.
1. Read, contemplate, and memorize these bible verses.
When we’re stressed or anxious about something, we often repeat a negative story to ourselves, but reading and memorizing scripture replaces the unhealthy self-talk with who God says we are.
Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” What a beautiful image of how God is always with us, even in our darkest moments. Next time you feel alone in your anxiety, speak this verse over your life.
Another verse worth memorizing for anxiety is Philippians 4:6-7. It reminds us, “Do not be anxious about everything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Imagine being able to hand all your worries and stress off to someone else – that’s precisely what this verse is saying we can do. It lays out a clear action plan; pray, thank God, and ask Him for what you need, which brings us perfectly to the following tool.
2. Take time to pray and meditate each day.
By slowing down our minds and focusing on one thing through prayer and meditation, the busy thoughts in our heads can begin to untangle. Prayer allows us to hand all our worries and concerns over to Jesus, and Christian meditation is just a way to “be still and know that [He is] God,” as Psalm 46:10 says.
In his book Get Your Life Back, John Eldridge discusses the use of a daily pause. He suggests setting an alarm reminding us to take a minute or two to slow down and meditate and pray. One of the phrases he repeats during his pause is particularly helpful for those with anxiety. “I give everything and everyone to you, God,” he prays. Saying this repeatedly has a stress-releasing effect, as we are no longer the sole carriers of our burdens.
Want an extended meditation for anxiety? Try this ten-minute meditation on the Glorify app God is With You.
3. Ask friends and family to pray for your anxiety.
Sometimes it can feel like anxiety and stress are too much to cope with alone, even if we pray and meditate. As Christians, we have the benefit of asking other believers to pray for us.
Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for prayer; most people have probably experienced some form of anxiety themselves. When you feel stressed or anxious, knowing someone is out there praying for you is a huge comfort. If you don’t have anyone in your life who can pray for you, ask a pastor at your local church, or visit a church’s website, as many have prayer request forms online.
4. Use this Navy SEAL’s technique for stress relief.
Anxiety often changes our breath into quick, shallow bursts, making us feel dizzy and more stressed, so next time you feel your breath changing, try box breathing.
Box breathing is a form of breathwork used by the United States Navy SEALs because of its ability to calm the mind quickly, reduce stress and improve mood. According to the Mayo Clinic, this sort of breathing works by relaxing the autonomic nervous system.
Here’s how you do it.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath through your nose to the count of four.
Hold it for a further four counts.
Let it out through your nose for another four counts.
Hold it at the bottom for four counts.
Repeat at least four times.
If the most elite force in the world uses it, it’s got to work, right?
5. Turn off the news.
We’re living through one of the most stressful times in recent history, and our minds were never designed to handle the constant onslaught of disaster news from every corner of the earth. It’s enough to make anyone crawl into a hole and hibernate until this is all over.
A global study found an estimated 1 in 14 people worldwide suffer from anxiety, and that was in 2012, well before the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. Imagine how high the numbers must be now when we’re continually told the world is collapsing. This is why one of the best things you can do for anxiety is limit your intake of news. Start by only looking once a day. If you can handle that, try taking an extended break. If the world does collapse, someone is sure to tell you.
6. Take a social media break.
Have you ever sat down for a quick scroll of social media only to look up, and a couple of hours have passed? Not only that, but we’re usually left feeling rubbish about our life and comparing ourselves to perfectly curated feeds. A quick like of your friend’s post, a scroll through your favorite celebrity accounts, or posting a well-edited photo might seem all fun and games; however, studies have found social media use increases your risk of depression and anxiety.
The idea of social media-free weekends has started to take off even amongst the influencer community. Why not give it a go and see if you miss the scrolling? If that’s manageable, consider giving it up entirely until your anxiety lessens. You might miss Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for a while, but over time the lack of constantly comparing and perfect photos will lead to a much healthier mental state. Use all that extra time for another anxiety-kicking activity.
7. Get your heart rate up through exercise.
Sometimes it takes sweating it out to get out of your head. Exercise is the ultimate anxiety-busting activity because it produces endorphins, magical chemicals that make you feel good. If running, cycling, or the gym is not your thing – go for a walk. A change of scenery will also distract your mind.
8. Write things down.
Suppose you’ve still got a whole lot of thoughts making you anxious; try writing everything out. Grab a piece of paper and write down whatever comes to mind. It might not make sense, it might be a to-do list, or it might be a letter to someone who’s hurt you, but there is something cathartic about getting it out of our heads and onto paper.
If you’d rather try a more formal method, like journaling, check out our article on How to Start Journaling and What to Do When You’re Stuck.
Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
There is a big difference between feeling anxious and clinical anxiety, and it’s mainly distinguished by how long the feelings last, how intense they are, and whether it’s become all-consuming. If you find your anxiety is getting too much, or are feeling hopeless, reach out to a medical professional for help.