Two readers recently asked for tips on how to find peace when you’re struggling with anxiety and fear. I know well those anxious, fearful feelings — they were unwelcome visitors on many a dark night. I’ve tried several ways to find peace; below, I’ll share three of my most Blossomy tips for fighting anxiety and fear.
Here’s one reader’s comment, on an article about the fear of being alone:
“My husband left me after 25 years together,” said Beverly on How to Deal With Your Fear of Being Alone. “I’m fine with the divorce because it wasn’t that great of a marriage to begin with. I never should have married him but I was scared to be alone. Now, I’m in the same boat. But now I’m 50 instead of 25 years old!! So my way of dealing with my fear of being alone backfired. Now, how do I cope with anxiety about making another mistake and about being alone for the rest of my life?”
Another reader emailed me, saying:
“Hopefully, one day you can discuss anxiety and fear. Lately I have been suffering from that and have noticed more people going through the same thing more often. Why is this happening? Why are we feeling like this? What can we do to overcome this?”
I agree that more people are struggling to cope with anxiety and fear. I am, too — and I never watch the news! I don’t have cable, and I stay far away from newspapers and news feeds.
Even so, I feel the violence and problems of the world creep in. And the truth is, sad and scary things happen all the time. Just today there was a horrible train wreck that killed several people, a funeral in my city for a firefighter who took his own life, and news that the wildfires are still spreading.
There is no way to avoid bad things in life. Our world can be heartbreaking – and it’s also beautiful. I no longer question God, for it gets me nowhere. Rather, I’ve learned how to live in peace, without feeling afraid or anxious.
3 Tips for Peace When You’re Struggling With Fear and Anxiety
This morning while writing to God, I started making notes for this article on finding peace in moments of fear and anxiety. I recalled a super scary, anxious moment in my life (the night a man broke into my apartment in the middle of the night and tried to rape me) and I started writing about it.
I didn’t plan the break-in as being one of my Blossomy tips for coping with anxious, fearful feelings…but you know what? It works good.
1. Imagine the worst – “What Then?”
The guy breaking into my apartment wasn’t the actual cause of my anxiety and fear. It was the aftereffects of that break-in that made me anxious and fearful for over 30 years. Even today, I still get scared when I sleep alone in a ground-level place.
When I feel those fearful, anxious feelings crop up, I ask myself “What then?” And I keep asking it until I have no answers.
Here’s how it looks:
“A guy breaks in. What then?”
“I fight him. I react instinctively, like I did back then. I may win, I may lose, but I’ll fight.”
“Somehow I get through it. I don’t know exactly how, but it’ll end.”
“I’ll call the police. Maybe he’ll get arrested, like the last guy did. Maybe he’ll go free. I don’t know, but I’ll report him.”
“I’ll get help. Maybe counseling. I don’t know. I depends on lots of things.”
“Will you stop bugging me already? I’m falling asleep and you’re getting on my nerves.” (sound of snoring in peace)
Your turn: write down the thing that’s causing you anxiety, fear, or sleepless nights. Then, keep asking yourself “What then?” Keep writing your answers, until you just don’t know what them.
This will help you see two things:
- You can and will deal with whatever you’re scared of or anxious about. You’ll have no choice! You have the resources, the power, and the ability to cope with whatever comes up in life. And if you know Jesus, you’ll find oceans of peace and wellsprings of joy.
- There are no answers, because the thing you’re so anxious and afraid of doesn’t exist. It hasn’t happened! So you’re wasting your time and energy.
Write it in the comments section below, if you like. You have to write it down, though. Otherwise you’ll just get confused and off-track. The actual act of writing will help you clarify your thoughts and keep you on track.
2. Take care of what you can control
Here’s another tip on how to find peace when you’re struggling with fear and anxiety — this one worked extremely well for me. I rarely struggle with anxiety and fear about a break-in because I have two dogs. They bark when people come to the door in the daytime and they bark at unusual nighttime noises.
My dogs are little so they’d never actually take down an intruder (shhh, don’t tell anyone that). But, a police officer told me that barky dogs — no matter how little — are the best home alarm system. Intruders don’t want noise or attention; they want silencio.
Every night I do what I can to protect myself. I lock up the house and make sure the alarm system has been walked, fed, and watered. I’ve found peace of mind by taking care of the things I have control over.
Your turn: what can you control in the situation that is making you afraid and anxious? If you’re worried about being alone forever, learn how to stop fear from ruining a new relationship.
Take care of the things you can control. Learn, ask for help, get support, get educated and informed about whatever you’re scared and anxious about. This works because it’s often lack of information that creates anxiety and fear. Sometimes you find peace when you get new facts and explore different ways to find peace of mind.
Which reminds me — I wrote 8 Ways to Overcome Anxiety When You’re on Stage when I was dealing with stage fright (performance anxiety). I learned lots about finding peace of mind because I had to play my flute in a duet! That was really scary.
3. Tether your soul to Jesus
How often do you turn your thoughts to things that are good, right, pure, and truthful? When you pray, do you find yourself always asking, begging, pleading, wishing, hoping? Maybe it’s time to get to know God in a new way.
Maybe it’s time to learn about and love Jesus for who He is, not what He can do for you. The more connected you are to Him, the more peaceful and joy-filled you’ll be. It’s inevitable, unavoidable! If you stay tethered to Jesus, you will experience a deep peace and joy.
Your turn: take Paul’s advice. “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” – Philippians 4:8.
This works because fixing your thoughts on the truth of Jesus will fill you with awe and humility. You can’t feel anxiety when you’re filled with the awesomeness of God! Thinking about how right, pure, and lovely Jesus is will fill you with love and peace. You can’t feel scared when you’re filled with joy.
Coping With Anxiety and Fear
In Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World, Max Lucado writes, “The news about our anxiety is enough to make us anxious.”
This pastor knows what it feels like to be overcome by the worries and fear of life. In this book, he shares how to find true freedom and experience more joy, clarity, physical renewal, and contentment by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Anxiety comes with life, but it doesn’t have to dominate your feelings, thoughts, or behavior.
If you feel alone and lost, read How to Find God and Heal Your Broken Heart.
What do you think about my tips on how to cope with feelings of anxiety and fear? First, try them out. Try writing through the “What then?” exercise. Try taking control of the things you can control. Try humbling yourself in front of Jesus, and accepting the gift of His love, joy, grace, and sacrifice.