When you suffer from anxiety, every day can feel like a battle. Depending on your schedule, you may be having anxiety before you even get out of bed in the morning. Thankfully, there are many anxiety coping skills that we can incorporate in our day-to-day, without relying solely on medication or spending a lot of money.
But not all advice is created equally. There’s a lot of fluff out there on the internet, tips that simply don’t work, aren’t practical, or follow more of the new age teachings than faith-based teachings. If you’ve been frustrated with the search results, read on for my list of anxiety coping skills for Christians.
General Anxiety Symptoms
Wondering if you’re experiencing “real” anxiety? Here are a few anxiety symptoms you can read through to take stock of where you’re potentially at.
- Feeling restless, nervous, or tense
- Feeling a sense of impending doom or panic
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing (hyperventilation)
- Trembling or sweating
- Low energy, weakness or feeling tired
- Having trouble concentrating or obsessively worrying
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Experiencing GI (gastrointestinal) problems
- Difficulty gaining control of worry
- Avoiding things that you think trigger anxiety
FYI, anxiety sufferers aren’t always hiding under the bed or breathing into a paper bag. No, many of us are simply out there trying to live our lives, and doing a pretty good job at faking it. It’s only when we get away from the crowd that we have a mental break down in the bathroom, or have a hard time getting out of our car before going into a public place.
If this sounds like you, know that you’re in good company. Hi there, I too suffer from anxiety. That being said, God can move mountains when it comes to anxiety levels.
I’m a firm believer he can do that for you too.
How are Christian anxiety coping skills different from mainstream?
You may be asking yourself if there’s really any difference between Christian-based coping skills and the mainstream coping skills. I’m here to tell you, yes, there is.
For starters, the mainstream likes to focus a lot on self. How are YOU feeling, what is YOUR truth, what’s going to make YOU feel better. Listen, I’m not saying that we don’t need to be compassionate with ourselves or that self-love is beyond our reach. However, in order to wrangle anxiety, I think it’s crucial as Christians that we understand that the only real rest we’ll find is in Christ.
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
This is imperative when it comes to overcoming anxiety, because when we’re anxious, that means that our eyes are not focused on God. In fact, they are focused inward, on self. Being anxious means we’re worried– whether that be about the future, about our safety, how we appear to others, etc.
Simply put: we’re distracted by our emotions.
Yes, it’s good to take inventory of our feelings, yes, let’s be self-aware, but let’s not be so focused on ourselves that we lose sight of what really matters. Remember that we must lean on God during times of stress, and especially during times of extreme stress and anxiousness. The Bible tells us to be anxious for nothing, but through prayer and thanksgiving, make our worries known to God.
Christian anxiety coping skills
Anxiety can make us feel like we’re standing on shaky ground. It can impair us from living, and make daily tasks seem impossible to complete. Here are a few anxiety coping skills to help you prevent or move through an anxiety attack.
1. Get Moving
Built up nervousness is like shaking a bottle of soda– there’s pressure that’s waiting to be released.
It may sound basic, and even exhausting, but it’s so important that we get our bodies moving, especially during an anxiety attack. Research suggests that physical activity can help decrease panic attacks and relieve stress and anxiety. Taking a quick 10 minute walk around the neighborhood, doing a 20 minute workout, or hopping on the treadmill are all ways we can release some of that nervous energy and refocus our minds.
Prayer is one of the most powerful tools we have as Christians. If you decide to take a walk to blow off some steam, be sure to pray while you’re at it. The Bible tells us to give our worries to God, and this couldn’t be more true during a time of anxiousness and stress.
A good prayer to start with is, “Dear Lord, thank you for your mercy, grace, and for always loving me. You understand my situation and the stress I’m currently under. Please help me release this worry, move through this anxiety, and fill me with the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
3. Read Scripture
This is a no-brainer, but one that we sometimes avoid during an attack. Remember, the enemy wants to keep you in a state of stress, and so he will do whatever he can to prevent you from picking up your Bible. Some of my favorite books of the Bible to read include the book of Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Lamentations, and Ecclesiastes.
Even reading just a chapter can help you refocus and lean on God and his word.
4. Phone a Friend
Proverb 12:25 says, “anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” The key is to phone a trusted Christian friend or mentor, who can give you Biblical advice and emotional support.
Don’t get me wrong– it’s not that we can’t trust our non-Christian friends, but we have to remember that their advice may lead us to look for relief apart from God. This may sound extreme, but friends with even the best of intentions can give terrible counsel that can cause more harm than good. Furthermore, in trying to make you feel better, they actually cause you to think more about your problems, which can lead to more anxiety.
5. Listen to Christian Music
Music can do wonders for the soul. While listening to angry or sad music may bring validation, it’s better that we choose uplifting Christian music during times of great stress and anxiety. Be sure to check out this post for my recommendations on the best Christian music for anxiety.
6. Play with Your Dog
Dogs are one of the best natural remedies for anxiety, and make great emotional support animals. Studies show that even the act of petting a dog can release oxytocin and serotonin, which are the feel-good hormones that can alleviate anxiety and depression.
For quick relief, go snuggle up with your favorite furry friend, take them on a walk, or play fetch in the backyard. Simple activities like this can help you stop focusing on your worries and focus on your dog instead.
7. Go to Sleep
Not getting enough sleep can increase anxiety and stress levels. So when you’re feeling run down or anxious, take a nap. A quick 20 minute nap or resting on the couch can help you wind down and hit the reset button. It also gives you the mental break you need.
I heard a quote one time that I really enjoy: “Sometimes the most Godly thing you can do is go to sleep.” Oh, so true.
Things to Avoid
There are definitely things you need to avoid if you’re trying to reduce stress and anxiety. Here are a few worth mentioning.
- Don’t use drugs or alcohol. Numbing out is never the solution. Using substances like drugs and alcohol will only feed your anxiety in the long run. For more help, please see this post on Powerful Bible Verses to Overcome Addiction.
- Avoid high anxiety television. Watching movies or our favorite TV shows can bring a a sense of comfort after a long day, but be sure to avoid dark programming. Shows about crime, murder, and high-anxiety situations can subconsciously affect your own anxiety.
- Stay off social media. It’s no secret that social media has been linked to depression and anxiety. When you’re feeling the stress, it’s not a good idea to scroll through your home feed on Facebook.
- Turn off the news. Yes, we need to stay informed, but when you’re having an anxiety attack, avoid news articles and videos like the plague. Tuning into politics and worldly discussions will only add fuel to the fire.
- No drama people. Yeah, we’ve all met the person that is addicted to drama. If you’re trying to heal your anxiety, part of this process means surrounding yourself with chill people. People that focus only on drama and problems are not good for you to be around, so avoid these influences if you can.
YES. Having anxiety doesn’t make you less or a “bad” Christian, it just makes you human. We’re living in tough times, so naturally the stress and anxiety levels are up. We all struggle with something in our lives. However, the good news is that as a Christian, we know that we are redeemed–bought back– by Christ. This means that no matter the struggle, we can rest in knowing Christ. So if you are suffering with anxiety right now, please remember that this can help you grow spiritually stronger and lean more on the Lord.
Yes. We can read about this in Luke 22, when Jesus knew he was about to be arrested and crucified. He invited his friends to an olive grove to pray, but everyone fell asleep. This is when Jesus got down on his knees and prayed to God three times that His will be done. And in Luke 22:44, we read that Jesus was so anxious that he was sweating blood. So when we bring our worries to God, rest assured he KNOWS what we’re feeling, more than we know!
Curing anxiety can be a process that takes time, but worth the effort. The easiest way to cure anxiety is to grow your faith and trust in God. Truly, all anxiety stems from fear– about the future, the past, expectations, etc. This is easier said than done, but it is only through Christ that we can be set free. For his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).
We live in a dying world. As Christians, the current culture climate can bring on a lot of unwanted anxiety and nervousness. That’s why it’s so important that we learn anxiety coping skills to help us through these times.
To recap what we’ve learned in this article, anxiety can manifest in a number of ways and strike in many areas. Even Jesus experienced anxiety before the crucifixion. Yet we can look to God and the Bible for the ultimate wisdom on moving through it. In addition, practices such as exercise, phoning a friend, listening to Christian music, and taking a nap are all things we can incorporate into our recovery plan.
I pray this blesses you.
Any mental health information contained within this post is for general purposes only. It is not in any way a substitute for specific medical advice. You must therefore obtain the relevant professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action based on the information in these webpages.
If you are in crisis or you think you may have an emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.