“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? ~ Matthew 6:25-27 (NIV)
Whether we know it or not, we all have coping strategies to deal with our worries. We have a tool kit to draw from in times of anxiety. Some tools are healthy and others, not so much.
An important step in evaluating how we deal with anxiety, is to identify what coping strategies are good ones and which ones are bad.
Examine the list below and see what tools you use. When I am anxious, I do the following:
• Suppress my feelings with denial and avoidance
• Get angry and blame others
• Busy myself with activities unrelated to my problem
• Binge on food or movies, or smoking or exercise
• Overthink and worry about how to solve the problem
• Try to understand the source of my worry
• Seek advice and assurance from a trusted friend
• Take prescription medication
• Try to relax
• Pray, meditate and read scripture
Were you surprised by some of your responses to worry and anxiety?
Reduce your list to the tools that actually help you resolve the problem and pray about a new strategy.
Evaluate Your Worry Patterns
Jesus said, “Why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?”
“So, don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. ” ~ Matthew 6:28-32 (NLT)
A second step in dealing with anxiety is to evaluate our worry patterns and observe some details about our troubling thoughts.
What are you worried about?
How do you respond to your anxious thoughts?
We are currently facing a pandemic that has led to many losing their jobs and with that comes worry and anxiety about our finances.
- “How are we going to support our family? or pay the bills?”
- “Are we or a loved one going to get sick?”
- “Will we lose a loved one to this pandemic?”
- “What does the future look like for us?”
There are so many questions that we’re asking and assumptions that are being made based on how we process our anxiety when faced with a problem. We are all trying to cope with this crisis in one way or another.
Take Inventory of Your Worry
Take a few minutes to review what you have observed about your worries.
• Try to identify the core fear or insecurity behind the anxiety
• How many of your worries have ever materialized?
• Recall the times you were worried about something that never happened
• Was there any gain from the emotional toll of worrying? Was it worth it?
• How did your anxiety affect others in your life?
• Is there anything you can do to address the source of your anxiety? What is a practical step you can take?
Cast Your Cares
Jesus tells us to “seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So, don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” ~ Matthew 6:33-34 (NLT)
Instead of worrying, let’s take Jesus’ advise to cast our cares and release our worries to God. Add your concerns to your prayer time and ask God to go ahead of you in whatever you face. And trust that there’s nothing our God can’t do.
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Susan Egbe-Tanyi, MD is a board-certified family medicine physician. She is also the founder of Empowered Women Faith Club, where she writes to empower women to live confidently knowing who they are as daughters of God and encourages weary moms to find strength in God through the journey of motherhood. She is a wife, mother of three treasured kids, a passionate follower of Christ, lover of nature and a servant at heart. She practices medicine in North Carolina, where she lives with her husband and three children.