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Keys to Living a Worry-Free Life
It is normal for us to become worried when unexpected trials happen. Intense and prolonged anxieties, however, can cause a lot of problems in our lives. Worrying can interfere with our personal relationships and our work life, and even affect our physical health. Ongoing anxieties can be overcome if we are willing to recognize and deal with them.
Taking a hard look at our anxieties
A worrying state of mind can deceive us. Somehow, our fretting convinces us that obsessing about our fears will help us. Instead, worry destroys our peace of mind, distracts us from the things we need to do, keeps us up at night, and harms our relationships. Eventually, anxiety will give us a heavy heart (Proverbs 12:25) that will erode our physical as well as our mental health.
I once had a job that caused me all sorts of worry. I was taking over for someone who was fired for incompetence. My boss had unrealistic expectations of what I could get done and was constantly putting me down when I did not measure up to his expectations. The former employee left a mess with no real notes or system in place. I had to set up new systems on top of learning everything I had to do in a very busy position.
I started fretting and being fearful. At home, I was obsessing about work and all the problems I was facing there. I tossed and turned at night because I was so tense. I started working overtime to calm my fears, but became so tired that I made even more mistakes than I would normally. I was terrified of being fired and having to use my abusive boss as a reference. At some point, I had to calm my fears and get on with my life. I began looking for another job and praying hard for this trial to end.
Things worked out even better than I could have hoped. My company was taken over by another company and I was laid off. I had gone to an interview months before and used my old references. The company that interviewed me called me and offered me a job. All my worry and fear about the consequences of being fired were unfounded.
Worry is rooted in our fears such as being punished, losing control of our lives, suffering a terrible loss, or being hurt. We may feel vulnerable and in over our heads. Our state of uncertainty is uncomfortable for us. Human beings like to know exactly where they stand at all times. Unfortunately, life is often not like that.
Some of us try to deny anxiety by masking the symptoms with drugs, alcohol, workaholism, and perfectionism.
There is no escape, however, from the negative effects of worrying. The human mind is not designed to handle long-term anxiety and must vent to survive. All the guck comes out as anger, frustration, complaining, and/or tears. We must face our anxieties before we can overcome them.
"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength"
Corrie Ten Boom
Realize worry is unproductive and destructive
Our circumstances are often out of our control. For example, our anxieties can’t change the number of days we will live (Matthew 6:27). Expending energy on worry is a useless waste of time.
When we worry, we are distracted and cannot focus on the important things in our lives like our families or our jobs. We are more likely to make mistakes. We may jump into hasty decisions to resolve our anxieties, like taking a job we don’t really want or starting dubious relationships because we are afraid of being alone.
Our anxiety may cause us to be nasty to the people in our lives. People may cringe when we come their way because they know we will unload all of our negative emotions on them in a desperate bid for relief from our worries. Over the long term, worry can also bring on health conditions such as headaches, high blood pressure, and chronic illnesses.
Trust God with the things we worry about
It is natural for us to be anxious about situations at first. But when we continue in a state of constant anxiety, we are not trusting God to take care of our situation.
God cares about us. We can ask God to take our burdens from us and be confident that He will sustain us through whatever is bothering us (Psalm 55:22).. We can count on God to help us find solutions that we probably can't see right now. When we pray, we must trust Him and put away our worry.
God assures us that we won’t ever be put in circumstances that we cannot handle. He will help us to endure it and find a way out of our difficulties (1 Corinthians 10:13). Christ gives us the strength we need to endure (Philippians 4:13, Psalm 34:4).
We can trust God to answer our prayers and address our concerns. Worry can be released into His hands. We can bring the things that are bothering us to God in prayer in a spirit of thanksgiving instead of a state of fear (Phillipians 4:4-7). God cares about us and will respond (1 Peter 5:7). God is love, which casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
When we are worried, we lack faith that God will find a solution. God does not want us to be in a state of worry. He wants us to believe His promises that He will listen and answer in His timing. He wants to console us and return us to a state of joy. God will give us the peace we need to accept whatever happens (John 14:27, Psalm 55:22). As human beings, it is difficult for us to completely eradicate worry, but we can learn to reduce and manage our anxiety.
How to reduce our anxiety
- Maintain a right relationship with God through prayer and repentance
- Recognize that some anxieties arise from unconfessed sin - take action if possible
- Get your to do list done - procrastination can increase anxiety levels
- Get enough sleep - sleep deprivation elevates anxiety
- Don’t waste time worrying about things that probably will never happen
- Take life one day at a time and focus on today’s troubles
- Take time to relax and do fun exercise regularly
- Talk to someone about the things that make us anxious and seek professional help, if needed.