Practical Ways to Navigate a Hyper-Anxious World: Tools to Help (Part 4)

Get tools to help you navigate anxiety in part 4 of our 6-part article series.
6 min read

Editor’s Note: This is part 4 of a 6-part article series. You can navigate to the other available articles at the bottom of this one.

Let’s do a little experiment in this article. We’re going to go through a process, and I want you to practice paying attention to your body. Can you pay attention to your own body?

One is I’m calm.

Ten is I’m intense right now, like can’t even stay in my own body intense.

Five is I’m on the edge, my brain’s intact, but my lid is starting to flip. I’m getting a little overwhelmed by what you’re saying, Tara.

So, pick your number, and then scroll through the pictures below slowly. I want you to notice what you meditate on. I want you to pay attention to the pictures and see if you can feel how your body starts to inch up in a little bit of stress by simply viewing a picture.

God has created us in a way that the mind and the body are deeply connected in so many ways.

Practicing Feeling

Files with labels
Image Credit: Image Source/Getty Images

Maybe this puts some feet to the stress you might be feeling. What stresses you out the most? There’s a lot on your desk right now. Lot of things you need to attend to.

Book-shop-in-Paris
Image Credit: Helena de la Guardia/Moment/Getty Images

Your internet just broke, and you need some information. It’s somewhere in this pile, and you need to get it fast—but nothing’s alphabetized or organized.

Old-abandoned-industrial-building
Image Credit: inkret/E+/Getty Images

This is often how we’re feeling. Just that. Everything’s broken, empty, and isolated … and we’re losing hope.

Do you notice it in your body? See if you can name the emotion that these are bringing up in you. And if you can give it a number of how strong it feels, do that. Everyone is on different spectrums.

And now what we’re going to do is move toward pictures that actually meditate on a little bit more of life and what is good and what is pure and what brings hope.

Let’s see if you can feel the shift happening just by simply tuning in. Tune into your 5 senses. Imagine what you would see, smell, hear, taste, and feel if you were in these scenes.

Directly-Above-Shot-Of-Cutting-Board-Amidst-Various-Ingredients-On-Table
Image Credit: Natalya Danko/EyeEm/Getty Images

Maybe take a deeper breath and smell the different scents that might be in the scene.

climbing-and-stepping-in-a-river-exploring-a-beautiful-natural-area
Image Credit: Lisa5201/E+/Getty Images

Sometimes we just want to get rid of all the noise because we’re weary and tired of helping everybody else. And we alone just need help.

Relating to Parents

This is how parents are feeling right now. They can’t get away. They can’t go for a walk—they feel trapped. And so, just to even imagine going for a walk is good for our souls to be able to meditate on good things.

Even if we have to close our eyes and imagine a scene where we can find space in margin—nobody is climbing at us and needing us, there’s no technology and no meetings, and we can smell the air—that’s good for our souls.

God has created us in a way that the mind and the body are deeply connected in so many ways. I wish I could walk you through all the Scriptures to show you how profound it truly is.

Name the Tools that Help You

So, the question for you is, do you know what calms your body? Do you have tools? I always say, we just need 5. It’s important to get to a place where you are able to name your 5 tools.

My 5 are:

  • Journaling
  • Talking
  • Exercising
  • Tuning to 5 Senses
  • Creating

Journaling

I know that journaling helps me cause I’m a verbal processor, and I don’t always have access to people. And, not to mention, people can only handle so much. So, journaling to my Father and knowing that He’s hearing it all allows me to get it out. In a way I’m probably a heretic in my journal because I am venting it out. And then it’s like a song from King David, where eventually I land on the truth of who God is and His goodness.

Talking

The next for me is to be able to actually talk about it. I’m a verbal processor, but even if you’re an internal processor you need somebody to talk it out with because you need to tell the narrative. Get around 1 or 2 safe people in your life.

Exercising

Exercise helps me. And it’s part of my preventative work. If I exercise, I have more margin for the stress of the day and perspective.

Tuning to 5 Senses

Tuning into those 5 senses is something that I will do literally in the middle of the day, several times a day. I’ll imagine myself going somewhere to my favorite spots with God, or I will literally walk outside and just take in the air. I might meditate on a tree to focus in and do what I did with my oldest scout girl when she was 5 (see article 2).

Creating

Lastly, I like creating with my hands. I do not have a lot of free time to create with my hands. I am intentional about setting aside time to do something—even if it’s coloring with my kids. Parents being able to color with their kids, to be able to collage, to do an art project together is important.

Even if we’re not crafty at all, cooking is a way of creating. Being able to do something with our hands and moving the body actually shifts our anxiety and the intensity.

So, what are your 5? Maybe jot a few that you know right now.

Know your 5 and also know the 5 for little kids. What can they can do and go to when overwhelmed? It teaches us how to lean in. And these are gifts from our God.

Neuroscience has proven that if we spend time praying—actually petitioning, speaking with our words, and asking for help—it literally shifts our brain.

Back to Scripture

Now, when we go back to the Scripture, instead of do not be anxious being the focus, it’s do not be anxious about anything. You better first understand what anxiety is.

We know these tools that God is giving us. He’s given us things like prayer. Did you know when you pray your brain literally shifts and transitions? It’s unreal. Neuroscience has proven that if we spend time praying—actually petitioning, speaking with our words, and asking for help—it literally shifts our brain.

And to be able to focus on what is good with gratitude and thanksgiving—those are things that God has been giving us to say, I want you to be able to care for your anxiety.

The reality is that we are all going to get anxious. So, we need a path for what we’re going to do when it happens—just like we need a plan for when we’re sad, we’re disappointed, we’re angry.

Articles in this Series

Webinar-Parenting-in-an-Anxious-World

Supporting Families in an Anxious World: Professional Guidance for Children’s Ministry Leaders

This webinar is designed to help you navigate being a shepherd to parents who are facing some of the most overwhelming traumas of our times.
Webinar-Parenting-in-an-Anxious-World

Supporting Families in an Anxious World: Professional Guidance for Children’s Ministry Leaders

This webinar is designed to help you navigate being a shepherd to parents who are facing some of the most overwhelming traumas of our times.
Webinar-Parenting-in-an-Anxious-World

Supporting Families in an Anxious World: Professional Guidance for Children’s Ministry Leaders

This webinar is designed to help you navigate being a shepherd to parents who are facing some of the most overwhelming traumas of our times.
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  Updated on November 4, 2020

About the Author

  • Terra A. Mattson, MA, LMFT, LPC, and her husband, Jeff, are raising their two daughters just outside of Portland, Oregon. They are the founders of Courageous Girls and the counseling and organizational-development firm Living Wholehearted. Terra is a licensed marriage and family therapist who has helped thousands of women at every stage of the journey over the past two decades. She is the author of Courageous: Being Daughters Rooted in Grace. Learn more at Living Wholehearted and My Courageous Girls

  • Your Ministry Spark Team is made of ministry volunteers, leaders, and experts who work with David C Cook. We’re passionate about helping others know, love, and follow Jesus. And, we have a big heart for those who serve the kingdom—that’s you. Together, we can do this!

© 2020 David C Cook. All rights reserved.
© 2019 David C Cook. All rights reserved.
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