We live in a world that is always anticipating a crisis and broadcasting bad news. Social media and 24-hour news outlets are constantly inundating us with shocking news in our area and around the world. We’ve come to expect that news is all about bad things, and it can make our anxiety skyrocket.
How can we stay at peace in an anxious world?
Anxiety And Anticipation
First, we have to realize that anxiety is all about anticipation. We feel anxious when we are anticipating bad news, worrisome situations or unpleasant encounters. This usually stems out of a fear that we first developed as a child when we were faced with an actual fear-inducing situation. From that negative experience and other painful battles with fear, we develop a trigger – an anxious response the minute something “scary” happens. Anxiety will pulse through our veins if we feel a sense of danger coming, in any way, large or small, real or imagined.
One of the helpful ways to address this underlying anxious fear is to acknowledge that it’s there. We don’t have to pretend we are not afraid when we really feel fear. Truth can start to settle our soul as we face the reality of past fears and painful memories and trace their roots to our current anxieties. Often, past fears prompt us to think we are still in that fearful situation when we actually are not.
As we settle our minds, we may see how we’ve fallen into the trap of anticipating bad things instead of prayerfully looking for God’s good plans for us. It’s not exactly second nature to anticipate good instead of evil. But we have a faithful God who has plans for peace and not harm (Jer. 29:11). Even when we go through disturbing experiences, He can bring good out of any situation. When you put your trust in God, there’s no need to live in a chronic state of anxiety.
Strategies for Peace
If you find yourself getting stressed out by the world around you, use these strategies to help subdue your anxiety:
- Exposure: Limit your exposure to unnecessary news, especially first thing in the morning. Obviously, we can’t and shouldn’t hide from the news altogether, but often we’ll find we are taking in too much traumatic news and not hearing enough about all the positive and wonderful things happening in this world. We need balance in our intake of news.
- Exchange: Exchange the bad news for the Good News. Instead of feeding on daily large dosages of bad news and troubling updates, soak in the Word of God, and especially the Psalms. The psalms are the heartfelt expressions of our fears, our doubts, our pain and ultimately, our faith. It’s good to breathe deeply and let God shoulder the burdens you’ve been carrying. Ask God to lead you by the still waters and restore your soul (Psalm 23).
- Express: Take the time to express yourself and vent a little in a private journal. But don’t just journal about the junk in your life! Start out by expressing your anxieties and then transition to expressing your gratitude. Write how God worked out situations in your past. Remember to conclude your time journaling with a dosage of uplifting truth from the Word of God. Express that truth to yourself as you go through your day.
- Evaluate: Take time each day to evaluate all your blessings, noticing the added value of peace and protection God already has in place for you, both in your home and in your community. As you go through your day, notice the blessings of shelter, the warmth of the sun, your cherished friends and family, and all those who work to keep our towns and nation protected. These are all valuable blessings in our lives that are part of God’s loving care and protection for us.
- Enthusiasm: Lastly, take the time to enthusiastically celebrate life. Break that mental pattern of anxious negative thinking with a celebration, even if it’s for a seemingly insignificant event in your life. Find moments where you can celebrate special memories and family times with laughter and even silliness. Take photos and record these good memories. These happy moments of celebration will be tucked away in your mind and will help in the future when you’re tempted to anticipate negative things. Remember that joyful celebrations can live on in our heart with a quick trip down memory lane.
The world at large can be challenging, with all its troubles and turbulence. But Jesus said He has overcome this world. We can overcome our anxieties as we face the truth of our past experiences, monitor our outlook on life and learn to look for the good around us. We don’t have to anticipate bad things. We can be at peace even in an anxious world.
You may also be interested in Trusting In God When You Need To Face Your Fears