Talking with a friend the other day, we shared how our social anxiety and capacity for large groups have decreased.
After an extended quarantine, our bodies don't like the same level of interaction.
In general, I'm noticing increased anxiety throughout the day in those I care for (and again in myself).
When challenging emotions arise, we tend to ignore them — What do our British friends say again? Oh yeah, Stay calm and carry on.
But what do you do when anxiety demands your attention, and you can no longer stay calm?
Here are 3 ways to calm anxiety.
1. Belly Breaths
Most of us breathe wrong.
I said it.
We take short, shallow breaths, and we breathe into our chest. The next time anxiety grips you, take 3-5 belly breaths.
Sit up tall.
Breathe in through your nose and focus on filling your stomach with air.
Pause at the top of the breath.
Breathe out of your mouth twice as slow (like your breathing on soup).
Bonus - put your feet on the floor and also focus on the feeling of being grounded to the floor.
2. Sense the moment
When anxiety increases, often our awareness of the present moment decreases. Becoming attuned to the present moment can go a long way.
Name 5 things you see.
Name 4 things you feel.
Name 3 things you hear.
Name 2 things you smell.
Name 1 thing you taste.
Slowly working through each of your 5 senses can calm you down and make you feel more connected to the present moment.
3. Imagine A Trip With Jesus
It's no coincidence that the Bible regular pairs fear with a promise — Fear not, for I am with you (Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:9; Psalm 118:6; Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 10:29-31; Philippians 4:6-7).
No one wants to experience anxiety; however, it's an opportunity to meet with Jesus. Our imaginations can help here too.
Close your eyes if possible.
Prayerfully imagine yourself in a calming place (a beach, in the mountains, at your grandmother's table, etc.).
Imagine Jesus is there with you.
Sit with him in silence or have a conversation.
Our imaginations are powerful resources that reframe our experience to hear more clearly from Jesus and receive His care.
And remember, as Alison Cook writes, "Jesus is authoritative yet always invitational. Jesus never shames, berates, or attacks. He always welcomes." (Source)
Calming your Anxiety
These are a few ways for you to turn down the volume on your anxiety. I pray they help you. However, we don't quiet our soul's anxiety so we can grind out more productivity.
No, we calm anxiety to learn from it and cast all our cares on Him who cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Often this work is best done with the help of a wise friend, counselor, or spiritual director.
May you learn to calm and quiet your soul in the presence of the Lord (Psalm 131).
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