Select Page

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” (Psalm 94:19)

Identify Anxiety

To cope with stress and anxiety, we need to first be able to identify what that looks like for us as individuals and what causes us stress and anxiety. If not addressed or handled appropriately, stress and anxiety can become overwhelming and take over our lives. When relating to our emotions, stress and anxiety may sometimes look like restlessness, excessive worry, sadness, irritation, or anger. Physically, stress or anxiety can manifest itself in an upset stomach, chest pain, headache, sweaty hands, or other uncomfortable sensations. Here is another article that may be useful to help identify what anxiety might look like for you and how you can get to know your symptoms a little better.

Practical Tips To Calm Yourself in the Moment

There are some quick practical things that you can do in the moment as soon as you start to feel anxious, whether you use these to calm down, distract yourself, or lift your spirits. The first tip is to learn different breathing and relaxation methods. Practicing a relaxed breathing pattern can slow the heart rate, which is especially helpful for countering anxiety. A simple breathing method to try is to breathe in through the nose for five seconds and breathe out through the mouth for ten. In addition to slowing down your breathing, focus your attention on counting during your breaths and keeping yourself grounded.

Keeping a positive attitude during times of stress or anxiety can also help tremendously. You might create a mantra for yourself that you always turn to, which can be a bible verse, an encouraging quote, or even something simple to remind yourself to be positive and persevere through difficult times. Being positive can completely turn a situation around and remind you that you can handle anything, especially with the help of the Lord.

As you probably know, exercise can do incredible things for us mentally and physically. Even a quick five-minute exercise routine can be so helpful! This might include a few jumping jacks, quick laps around a room, or hustling up and down a staircase for five minutes. Exercise leads to a release of endorphins in the brain that build positivity and it can also distract us from what may seem like impending doom.

Begin and End Your Day Right

Something as simple as starting your day off on the right foot can make a huge impact on your outlook for the day. You can’t go wrong with beginning your day with prayer or reading scripture. Or, while the lights are still dimmed, enjoy some quiet time and a cup of coffee. If you are prone to worry a lot, make the intentional effort to reflect on what you are thankful for in life and in the day ahead. Oftentimes, when we’re in a rush in the morning, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious. By contrast, gearing up slowly and starting your day with a relaxed and positive attitude allows you to feel more prepared for whatever comes your way. Whatever morning routine you settle on, you can carry the positive attitude into the rest of your day. For example, if you decide to begin with scripture, you can reflect on the verse throughout the day and see how it applies to your life in a tangible way. Thinking negatively about situations always begets more stress, but by taking on your day with a positive attitude, you will feel confident about yourself and the day ahead of you.

On a similar note, by regularly ending your day with gratitude and prayer, you may begin to see not only the big blessings in your life, but the smaller ones as well. This time can also be used to reflect on your day and build gratitude. Anxiety and stress may be eased when we reflect on the positive things that happen and remember to be grateful for what we do have and even to be grateful for the trials we encounter.

Take Care of Yourself

An important step in overcoming and coping with stress and anxiety is to recognize the importance of self-care. This involves recognizing your worth and knowing it’s okay—even necessary—to take care of yourself. Showing appreciation for yourself can make a huge difference in life. Give yourself permission to explore the things that make you happy and embrace hobbies and activities that you enjoy. These things may include exercise, arts and crafts, cooking, or other anything else that takes your mind off life’s stressors and allows you to focus your attention in a more relaxing way.

Sleep is also an important ingredient in self-care. Unfortunately, a healthy sleeping habits are often one of the first things that suffers when we encounter stressful or anxiety provoking situations. We find ourselves either losing sleep or sleeping too much, and both can perpetuate our problems. By working to regulate normal sleeping patterns, we may find ourselves becoming more productive with our time (that can help to ease stress) or in better moods because we have the right amount of sleep. Of course, in addition to these, the appropriate amount of sleep has a variety of other benefits that can help to relieve stress and anxiety.

Get Connected

By finding communities to become involved with we can often find ourselves feeling like we belong to that community. Developing relationships in your community and building friendships is invaluable for keeping stress in check and even bolstering self-esteem. Of course, this works out best when spend time with friends who also value having a positive attitude and who appreciate mutual support. Therefore, seek friendships in the right places, such through ministries at your parish or by volunteering for a community service project. Becoming involved in service activities additionally offers a sense of purpose and allows us to feel as if we are making a difference in the world by helping others.

Developing and deepening friendships naturally leads to greater happiness—a powerful weapon in the battle against stress and anxiety. We were made for community and in community we can grow, flourish, and learn more about the love of God. Through this community, we are given a support system when things get difficult and a means of experiencing joy and laughter.

Ending Note 

Stress and anxiety can take on many forms for each person and can quickly become overwhelming, especially if you feel unequipped to handle the stress of everyday life. By learning more about ourselves, creating healthy morning and nighttime routines, exploring different means of self-care, and developing meaningful friendships, it becomes possible to cast aside stress and anxiety, and journey to the peace of Christ that we are called to. “And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)