It’s that time of year. Around the holidays many of us begin feeling anxious. Whether it’s worries about dealing with family members who drive us up the wall, or concerns about the end of the year, fear of what’s ahead in the new year, or dealing with the loss of a family member that undoubtedly makes the holidays that much harder – this time of year is hard on a lot of people. And you’re not alone in these feelings.
However, there are some simple ways to manage the anxiety you’re feeling. I can’t promise it makes everything go away. I sincerely doubt you’ll wake up tomorrow morning with all your problems solved. But I can tell you these tips can help you to manage what you’re dealing with and handle it appropriately.
Seriously. Just breathe. (I told you this was simple.) Focusing on our breathing helps us to refocus and shift our attitude. It gives us a moment to sit back and relax. Focusing on your breathing also helps in the physical sense. When we get overwhelmed and begin feeling anxious, our breaths become shorter, and our heart rate rises. When it rises, it causes more anxiety, which causes us to breathe even more shallow breaths. See how the cycle works?
Take a moment, sit back, and just breathe. Focus on the lengths of your breaths. And exhale completely. Push all the carbon dioxide out of your lungs. And breathe again.
As your breathing gets under control, remember what Scripture tells us:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgement.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 CSB
2. Focus on the Blessings
It’s easy to get caught up in fear and worry about the future, or in the dread of things you’re going to have to deal with. However, I encourage you to remember that God’s mercies are new every morning – and so are His plans for us. One of the best things I’ve ever seen to illustrate this is one of the entries from Sarah Young’s devotionals, Jesus Calling. In one entry, speaking from God’s perspective she writes, “My grace is sufficient for you, but it’s sufficiency is for only one day at a time.”
Remember that God gives us time that he separates into days and nights so that we have manageable portions of life. Focusing on the worries of tomorrow goes directly against His instruction for us.
Instead of worrying about the troubles of tomorrow, focus on the blessings of the present. Look at the things He has given you, and the things He is providing. It might feel like a small list, but start writing those things down. You’d be surprised at how long that list can become.
3. Keep your eyes on Jesus
The more we continue focusing on our problems, the less we see God’s promises in our lives. When we take our eyes off Jesus and focus on our circumstances, then little by little, layers of negativity harden our hearts, and our love for God grows cold. As we remember to keep Christ as our focus, we find that our problems become peripheral.
“I always let the Lord guide me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8 CSB