When our twins were 2 and our youngest 1, we would go for a walk around our neighborhood. While walking, the girls would want to stop and explore ants, leaves and instead of enjoying their discovery I would feel stressed. As a mom of three under three, I had a specific schedule that I thought we should adhere to; lunch, naptime, reading time etc. I have no idea why I was like that but I was. I had the privilege of being a stay at home mom, meaning, I did not have to rush off to work by a specific time. If the girls and I were late to lunch, or late to their nap it would not be a big deal.
One day I remember the girls were so happy exploring a bunch of leaves and ants during our walk. They wanted to just sit on the sidewalk and crunch the leaves and look at these ants. They were so cute. Still, I found myself feeling anxious because I wanted to get home; I heard within me, “where do you have to go?”
Once again, there is God interrupting my day with His wisdom. I thought to myself “absolutely nowhere.” I had nowhere to go and the girls were happy exploring. I believe, the Lord asked that question to help me realize I was bringing the feelings of anxiety on myself. Have you ever done anything like make yourself sick with worry for no good reason?
I have had several opportunities to be anxious for good reasons in my life. Such as the unexpected death of my father, job loss, financial instability, the serious illness of my daughter and the list goes on. Those were hard life situations. Still situations do not have to be negative to cause anxiety. Like the time my husband and I relocated across the country because of his job with our three daughters all under the age of 2. Now that was stressful. You try getting on an airplane with one infant, two toddlers, and three car seats, with people looking at you like you’re their worst nightmare. I will say, and this is the truth, when we landed, people literally began to applaud us as they got off the plane and saw we had three babies. I’ll tell you what, JESUS IS REAL folks. Three babies on a plane without a tizzy fit? Yea, God is real.
Back to anxious for nothing. Some stressors in life are completely outside of our control and others we agree to but we need to be able to recognize when we are operating from the “anxious for nothing” box.
Think about how many minutes, days, weeks have been stolen as we sat or paced worrying about absolutely nothing at all?
My husband would say I need to ask, how many sleepless nights and cranky days have you experienced just because you refuse to change your thoughts from worry to possibilities. That is time and rest you will never get back. Obviously, I am guilty when it comes to restless nights. That is why I know he would ask me to include that question. I have laid in bed many nights, tossing and turning, or flat on my back staring at the ceiling with my husband facing the same issues, fast asleep; snoring right beside me. Have any of you been there? I mean, how in the world could he sleep? I’ll tell you how, he put some issues in the “anxious for nothing” box and I refused to do that. My head did not want to stop negative scenarios or stop trying to figure it out.
My daughters use to say to one another, “You’re not the boss of me.” That is what I had to ultimately say to some of my thoughts. “ENOUGH!” Some of you may be thinking, “I’m just a worrier.” I understand but do you really want to claim that over yourself? I certainly do not. I do believe there are people more prone to negative thoughts. Still some of that is a choice. Notice I did not say all. Some people may have lower serotonin levels but I do not know whether their thoughts brought that on or vice versa. I do know this, when we change our thoughts, we change our behaviors which can lead to a changed life. For most of us, we just need to become the boss over our thoughts!
So here are some Hope Keys to help those who have found themselves anxious for nothing too often:
- Use your imagination! That is something I have done for years and you have used your imagination too. However too often we use our imagination for bad rather than good. Did you know for any situation you can purposefully imagine the best-case scenario? You can think about the best possible outcome. You will be surprised how much your feelings will change. You’ll be smiling in no time, just thinking about the good that is to come.
- Dance and Shout! This is one that others think is silly but it can work. Get alone and “act like” it is done. Whatever “it” is that you are anxious about, think about being through it. What would you do and how would you act if you received what you wanted? Would you whoop it up like the fans at sports events do when their team wins? If so, act like that. Literally get up and jump up and down, scream and shout and go crazy for a bit. I know it sounds silly but I do a little jig and dance like no one is looking and for that time instead of “feeling” anxious I end up “feeling” great! Do you know what happens? I get hopeful and begin to expect the best-case scenario is possible!
- Breathe. Some people use mindfulness to bring themselves to a state of calm. Focus on your breath and count as you inhale, hold your breath, then count as you exhale and repeat for a minute.
- Go to your medical doctor or see a therapist. Why? Because some of you have intrusive thoughts that are not in your control. Some of this can be controlled and managed through talk therapy others may need medication to assist but it is worth seeing a health care practitioner to get back on the right track. Mental health is as important as physical health. So, take care of yourself.
- Search every scripture that is the answer to your problem. I guarantee the answers are found there. Healing, Provision, Fear, Relationships issues, etc. Spend some time in the scriptures and receive Peace that was purchased for you.
- Find positive thoughts. Purposefully list positive thoughts that you can replace your negative thoughts with every time you catch yourself dwelling on the negative. Say those out loud because you will listen to yourself.