Do you find yourself bombarded with worrying, intrusive thoughts? Or feeling the impact of anxiety on your body? Life today can feel like a recipe for anxiety. Here we share our tips for managing anxiety.
Learning From The Bible: Martha and anxiety
It’s good to remember that worry and anxiety are not new problems. Lots of biblical heroes had to deal with their own fears, navigating them with God. Looking at their lives again can be a brilliant source of comfort and teaching for your own journey with anxiety.
The account of Martha is one famous example of a person in Jesus’ life who was affected by fears and anxiety.
Martha, who was part of Jesus’ circle of friends, is often used as an example of what not to do. Her sister Mary, who famously poured out an incredibly valuable perfume onto Jesus’ feet, is celebrated for her devotion and focus on Him. Martha, instead of sitting at Jesus’ feet, was busy hosting her guests.
In Luke 10:41-42, Jesus says: “Martha, Martha… you are worried and upset about many things.”
In the ESV version, which is a word for word translation of the original Greek to English, this verse says: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things.”
Martha wasn’t sat at Jesus’ feet, where she should have been, because she was anxious. In short, her anxieties got in the way of her experiencing an intimate moment with God.
Tips For Managing Anxiety: What Martha Can Teach Us
Jesus addresses Martha’s distraction and busyness by saying: “…but few things are needed—or indeed only one.” Jesus is reminding Martha that her focus should be on Him, not on her to-do list or the mess of the house or her worries about food or looking after people. That’s not to say you’re not allowed to be on top of your housework or job, but that it should never cause you so much worry that it takes you away from Jesus.
Martha shows us that fear and anxiety will rob us of precious time with God. As Jesus explained to her, only one thing is needed and worthy of our concern, and that’s whether we’re sat at His feet or not.
Three Tips For Managing Anxiety
Martha’s story spells out the cost of living with anxiety as our ruler. Anxiety is a thief that would rob us of the life-giving, restorative, healing encounters with Jesus that we are invited into and that we need in order to thrive.
If you feel like you’re running on empty and exhausted by the trials of life, try to learn from Martha’s mistake and focus on the one thing that matters. Get yourself to the feet of Jesus.
Here are some tried and tested methods to help reduce anxiety, along with wisdom and examples from the Bible to help you worry less and rest with Jesus more.
Sing Your Way Through
First up, we take a leaf out of King David’s book. When you read the Psalms and study David’s life you see a lot of examples of tumultuous emotions and real fears and worries.
Psalm 13 says: “How long, Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?”
We can learn two important lessons from David: firstly, voice what you’re feeling to God. It doesn’t matter if it’s not pretty or if you need to scream or shout. The safest place to express what you’re feeling, however dark, is with God.
Secondly: sing your way through your fears. David is famous for his songs. He sang out to God and praised, without caring whether he looked stupid or not.
Choosing to worship, even when you feel overwhelmed with emotion and fear, is a powerful statement of faith and hope.
But I Trust
Later in that same Psalm, David writes: “But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me.”
This “But I trust” line is pivotal.
David models a healthy, disciplined way to respond to worrying times: he rejoices and worships, despite his hardship, because he recognises that God has been good to him.
This is the leaf we need to take out of David’s book. Even in the midst of our deepest anxieties, we need to worship God. Because no matter what we’re facing, God is always bigger. And, no matter how difficult life gets, God is still good.
Breathe And Walk
Many books and magazines are filled with advice to practice breathing exercises and to get outside to help us reduce our anxiety.
Connecting with our breath and connecting with nature are both powerful ways to ease anxious thoughts. Why? There’s evidence from various studies that shows how both have a discernible, physiological impact. As Christians, we believe this impact is because connecting with our breath and with nature is a way of connecting with God. We will feel the benefit of connecting to God as it’s what we were made to do.
Don’t underestimate the impact deep breathing and walking can have; these tips for managing anxiety are powerful. As you take the time to try a mindful breathing exercise, or try forest bathing, you are connecting to the author of it all: God.
This adds another dynamic to your time spent going for a walk and soaking up nature, or lining up a meditation to do when you wake up. These are not just simple wellness techniques. They are ways of connecting with God which, in turn, is the biggest investment in your wellness you can make.
One of the simplest tips for managing anxiety is also often the hardest: open up. You don’t have to tell everyone in your life that you’re suffering from anxiety, but telling a trusted few is a really healthy idea.
People will be equipped to pray for you and can then offer advice and support when you most need it, once they know the healing journey you’re walking through. The more of the light of human connection, you let in, the harder it is for those anxious thoughts to survive.
The Glorify App has a range of meditations to try. Why not try starting and ending your day with some slow, deep breathing, and an audio devotional or Psalm?