Trading Anxiety For Peace, Part 3

Welcome to part 3 of my holiday blog series, Trading Anxiety for Peace. Today we’ll discuss a practical way to bring peace into your holiday.

Dealing with Anxious Thoughts

Most of my anxious thoughts have a scarcity mindset at their root. When I don’t think I have enough, or that I’m good enough, the anxious thoughts whirl out of control. In anxious moments, I get too focused on the unknown future, and I feel afraid and alone.

Last Wednesday night, I drove home in a thick fog. Even though I have driven the same roads for 25 years, my route suddenly seemed foreign and threatening. I could see only as far as my headlights reached, and the path forward was covered by a dark curtain of clouds.

Since it’s deer season here in Missouri, I slowed my speed to 20 mph under the limit. The thought of deer jumping across my path without any time to react sent my heart racing.

Even though I needed to place all my focus on the road, I was worried about the deer. I had a measure of control over my path, but I had no control over the deer. That’s a typical picture of how my anxiety works. Instead of focusing on the main thing, I focus on the unknowns, and I lose my peace.

A New Plan

If an antidote exists for anxious thoughts, it’s thanksgiving. On my drive, I took a deep breath. I remembered the times God helped me navigate that curvy highway in heavy downpours. I remembered how he guided me when that highway was completely ice-covered. The thousands of times he protected me on that highway without me even knowing it. I thanked him for never leaving me alone, for always guiding me, and for caring so much about me.

All this happened in maybe half-a-mile of driving time, and my peace returned. I still had a job to do (get home safely), and I needed complete focus to do that. But I didn’t need to worry about anything else.

Being thankful can chase away anxiety.

Jesus says, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” He knows we have plenty to handle right now. He doesn’t want us looking forward with fear; he wants us to focus on today with faith.

What is your trouble for today? This week?

This week, I have more than I can handle. Even today, there’s more to do than I can get done. When I think about all the tasks I need to accomplish, I literally feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins, which I notice when I get anxious. I am tempted to “fight” by attacking the tasks with fervor, but then I burn out and exhaust myself. I am also tempted to “take flight” by procrastinating and prioritizing lower tasks over important tasks.

God in the Details

If Jesus was sitting beside me right now, I think he’d say something like this. “Yes, you do have a lot on your schedule this week. But you have a choice. Will you handle it with the faith that I will give you the strength and peace to get it done? Or will you choose to take it all on yourself and destroy your peace?”

This is the system that works best for me. I divide my day into tasks. I set a timer for 45 minutes so I’m not sitting too long at my desk. When the timer sounds, I get up and do some exercises to get my blood flowing again. I look outside to help my eyes refocus and take in the beauty of God’s creation. I thank God for what I have accomplished and I ask him to help me with what’s next. Then I return to my tasks, refreshed and ready to go.

When I drive to town to pick up my children from school, I reflect on how the day progressed. I remember how overwhelmed and anxious I felt at the beginning. I remember my little conversations with God throughout the day, and I thank him for caring about all the details. Even if I didn’t accomplish as much as I would have liked, I celebrate whatever I got done and I thank God for never leaving my side.

Jesus wants to walk with you in the busy holiday season.

Involving God in all those details chases the fog of anxiety away. It also helps me when the next busy day begins. I remember how faithful God was to me the day before, and I trust him to help me again.

If anxiety is threatening to destroy your peace this holiday season, I encourage you to use your anxious moments as prayer triggers. Focus on the immediate path ahead of you and thank God for his faithfulness. The Prince of Peace will be your companion in these busy days, and you’ll never feel alone!

Questions for you:
      • How does thanking God help you chase away anxiety?
      • What time management system helps you gain peace?
      • In what area do you need God’s strength the most this holiday season?
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24 thoughts on “Trading Anxiety For Peace, Part 3

  1. Thanks for these reminders today, Sarah. We’re packing for a trip to visit family this week, and this is one of my biggest triggers for anxious moments! The reminder that God will give me the strength needed to remember all 467 items needed for two young children, family craft nights, meals, and outdoor fun brought some peace! I’m grateful!

    1. Hi Stacey! Ha ha, 467 items…I totally understand! Praying God’s peace on your travels this week. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Happy Thanksgiving, Sarah. Using my anxious moments as prayer triggers always helps. Focusing on the one important thing instead of the unknowns is a great strategy. Timely wisdom in a busy season.

    1. Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Debbie! Thank you for stopping by today. I’ll check out your site tomorrow morning (taking a quick break from my article writing deadline right now)!

        1. I’m actually enjoying my quiet morning online and checking out your site now. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  3. Thank you for your insight and firsthand knowledge of how to deal with anxious thoughts. I love how you let go by turning to praise and gratitude. I know how helpful that can be. I also know what a blessing it is to give yourself a change of perspective in the middle of anxiety. You mentioned going outside to refresh and prepare for the next task. I know how that really helps me. Blessings for a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    1. Thank you, Mary! It’s cold here this week, but I am blessed to live in the woods and enjoy the view from an abundance of windows. I am glad that helps you too…you often have beautiful nature photos on your site, which I adore! Happy Thanksgiving to you also!

  4. The scarcity mindset really gets me, too, Sarah. 🙁 I have to find it with an abundance mindset, knowing that God’s grace is more than enough, and knowing that in this moment, I have everything I need. Thanks for sharing! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family.

    1. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving too, Lisa! I made the pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce this morning. Can’t do Thanksgiving without either one!

  5. Such important things to think about here. Thanks for being a good resource, Sarah! And thanks for linking up at #PorchStories.

  6. I relate so much to this! I struggle with driving anxiety as well. The upcoming busyness of the season and the increasing to-do list also produces anxiety in me. I love your suggestions to talk with God throughout the day and thank him. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

    1. Hi Valerie! I’m so glad to hear from you. I did have a good Thanksgiving. Fighting anxiety about my to-do list happens nearly every December. Praying continuously helps me through. Blessings to you!

  7. Thanks, Sarah, for the reminder that the Babel in the Manger is the Prince of Peace, not stress and anxiety. Prayers for layers of soothing calm as you move through Advent.

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