In the midst of the holiday season, it's easy to worry about all the little things — from cooking the food perfectly, to keeping family members happy, to getting everyone meaningful gifts on a tight budget, to finding common ground with loved ones who share differing beliefs. If you struggle with anxiety (prolonged worry) already, the Christmas season can seem even more challenging than the regular seasons of life.
While worry and anxiety are closely related, they are not the same thing. Worry is short-term, future-oriented anxiety about something specific — an upcoming test, a work deadline, or meeting the new boss. Anxiety is a generalized feeling or chronic worry that's out of proportion to any real threat.
However, if you have ongoing worries and fears that you are unable to control, this is likely an anxiety disorder that has developed beyond that of everyday worry or stress. If worries are disproportionate to specific, identified concerns and/or interfere significantly in your life for at least six months at a time, you may have an anxiety disorder.
We all experience worry and anxiety. Rather than ignoring or suppressing these normal human responses to stress, we can learn to cope with them in healthy ways.
How do I stop worrying?
There are many different techniques used to help control worry and anxiety:
Breathing: Take a few minutes and pay attention to your breathing. Take a deep breath in through your nose and hold it for the count of 3 ─ then slowly exhale out through your mouth. Try this exercise several times throughout the day when you're feeling stressed ─ it may help relax your body and ease the tension.
Exercise: A brisk walk is a great way to lift your spirits and make you feel better physically and mentally. The endorphins released during exercise can also provide immediate relief.
Mindfulness: Focus on the current moment by being aware of how you feel in each moment (sad, happy, scared) without judging the emotions. Be mindful of your thoughts (worrying and ruminations), but don't judge them; acknowledge their presence. Start a feeling journal and write your thoughts onto paper.
Meditation: Take your Bible and look up what the scriptures say that negate the worry or negative thoughts. Memorize those scriptures and meditate on them. Whenever worry appears and tries to sneak into your mind you can do what Jesus did and quote scripture to refute it.
If you are worried or anxious, sick or sad, and find yourself struggling with these feelings, here are some biblical scriptures that can help you. These verses will lift your spirits when you are feeling down. Use these and find some more of your own…the Bible is full of powerful truths.
- "Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" Matthew 6:25
- "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Matthew 6:34
- "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Philippians 4:6
- “Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7
Now, let’s take these Scriptures and pray them back to God.
Heavenly Father, I cast all my cares on you and give you all my worries because you love me and are concerned about everything that worries me. I am not going to worry about tomorrow because you are here with me now. I am not going to worry about the needs of my everyday life because I trust that you will provide for me. No one can kill my soul because you broke death’s power over my life. I am not going to worry about anything, instead I am going to bring my needs to you in prayer. I am going to thank you in advance for answering my prayers. If I pray and I know you have heard my prayers, then I know you will provide the answers in your timing. I thank you that I can leave my concerns at the foot of the cross and trust you are working things out on my behalf. Thank you, Jesus, I love you and pray all these things in your mighty name. Amen.
Phil McGraw, one of the most well-known and trusted mental health professionals in the world and host of daytime TV’s top-rated program, “Dr. Phil,” earned a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the University of North Texas, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship in forensic psychology from the Wilmington Institute. He brings his faith-influenced expertise to the Pray.com app with “Prayer Therapy with Dr. Phil,” available now exclusively on Pray.com, the #1 app for prayer and faith-based content.
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