Like most people these days, anxiety and depression impacts my family. As a content creator, I try to offer tangible tools of support. So, with help from a licensed therapist and a pastoral counselor, I developed a document containing these daily strategies to help us focus on truth. I’m including all of the text here, for easy sharing. I also have printed copies available on my Etsy store.
When our world darkens—whether through anxiety, depression, or others hurts—fear and pain can feel overwhelming. In such times, we must make sure our perspective is aligned with the Light of the World (John 8:12). Make the strategies outlined here a part of your daily practice, to build your identity on the truth of Jesus Christ, instead of anything else.
1) Orient yourself.
Look around and notice
5 things you can see,
4 things you can feel,
3 things you can hear,
2 things you can smell,
and 1 thing you can taste.
Supporting scripture: Deuteronomy 30:19; Isaiah 26:3; John 14:27, 16:33
2) Relax your body.
Follow a progressive relaxation technique where you tighten and then relax each muscle group in succession, from feet to head, considering Psalm 46:10 along the way: “Be still and know that I am God.”
Supporting scripture: Matthew 6:25-26; Romans 12:1; Psalm 46; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; Phil. 4:6, Col. 3:15
3) Appreciate creation.
Go or look outside. Notice the biggest and smallest things around. Pay attention to the details of creation.
As you explore, practice deeply breathing in the truth of the Creator and breathing out the lies of the enemy.
Supporting scripture: Genesis 1:27; Job 12:7-9; Ecclesiastes 3:11; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 11:3
4) Practice gratitude.
As much as you can, tune out distractions, focus your thoughts on these words, and thank God for this moment. Then, identify five other things you can be grateful for. Write or draw them in a journal so you can remember God’s provision.
Supporting scripture: Psalm 107:1, 118:24; Ephesians 1:16; Colossians 3:17; 1 Thes. 5:18; James 1:17
5) Offer praise.
Play a worship song with the lyrics visible on screen. But don’t just watch—sing! Singing is referenced over 400 times in the Bible, with at least 50 of those being commands. It’s no wonder: singing helps regulate our breathing and worship lyrics help reorient our minds to the Father. Keep going until you’ve been singing for at least 15 minutes.
Wondering where to start? Try this playlist: tinyurl.com/strategyfive.
Supporting scripture: Hebrews 13:15; Psalm 69:30, 71:8, 100, 139:14; Ephesians 5:19
6) Quench your thirst.
First, drink a glass of water (at least four ounces). Drinking plenty of water each day has been shown to decrease anxiety and increase a sense of calm.
As you quench your physical thirst, read or listen to a Bible passage to quench your spiritual thirst. Reflect on what God is saying, then read/listen again. Write (or record yourself reading) all or part in a place you can refer to later. Talk with God about it. You might consider some of these or check your favorite Bible app:
|Psalm 23||Psalm 33|
|Psalm 63||Psalm 34:17-18|
|Proverbs 3:5-6||1 Peter 5:6-7|
|Matthew 11:28-30||John 8:1-38|
|Philippians 4:5-8||Ephesians 2:1-10|
Supporting scripture: Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18, 9:16; 2 Timothy 3:16, 4:2
7) Anchor your breath.
Find a comfortable place to sit or lay. Breathe in deeply and hold, then breathe out slowly and hold, making each step last at three or four seconds. (Here’s a video to demonstrate.) Say “In Christ I am” in your mind as you inhale and use words like these (all of which come from Scripture) to finish the statement on the exhale:
Supporting scripture: Jeremiah 1:5; Galatians 2:20; Eph. 2:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Peter 2:9
8) Walk in love.
When you are physically able, take a walk (even if just around your room). As you walk, go through the alphabet to see who God brings to mind for each letter (such as: A for Adam, B for Beth, and so on). Pray for them. Maybe send them a message of encouragement, or ask how you can best pray.
Next, consider who God brings in your path today. Ask him to make you aware of ways to care for them. Is there someone who needs a hug or a listening ear? A hot meal or a warm bed? Some compassion or gratitude? A few strategies or ideas?
Supporting scripture: Matthew 5:43-48; John 13:34; Philippians 2:3-4; 1 Peter 4:8; 1 John 4:7-21
9) Adjust priorities.
Identify all the places where the world enters your mind. Social media? TV? Games? Music? News? Podcasts? Books? Certain relationships? Consider how much brings truth and how much spews lies you have to navigate. In which direction are the scales tipped? Take steps ensure more truth comes into your mind every day to counter the lies that inevitably creep in.
If you have a smartphone: Adjust your settings to limit the amount of time spent in apps that don’t prioritize God’s truth. (Tips: iPhone or Android) If you frequently wake in the middle of the night, adjust your settings so the only app available then is one that speaks truth. (Need a Bible app? Consider these: Dwell, The Bible App, ESV Bible, The Bible Project App.)
Supporting scripture: Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8; 2 Timothy 1:7
10) Receive forgiveness.
Acknowledge where you’ve sinned against God. Consider and confess what motivated you to this sin. Then, receive God’s faithful forgiveness. (Remember, Jesus already paid the price for all of your sins, past, present, and future! Forgiveness is promised for those who follow Christ.) Avoid the temptation to think you can fix yourself. Rather, seek and rely on the Holy Spirit to equip you to turn away from sin.
Supporting scripture: Psalm 51; Luke 6:45; Acts 3:19-20; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 1 John 1:9
11) Forgive others.
First, remember that forgiving those who harm you isn’t possible until you are living in the light of God’s forgiveness yourself. (Go back to “Receive forgiveness,” if needed.)
Who do you need to forgive? Think about someone whose behavior you ruminate over, someone you’ve walked away from, or someone who brings up feelings of bitterness or irritation. Suppose they were standing in front of you, requesting you to release them from their debt. What conditions do you want to place on them before you forgive them?
Now consider standing in front of God requesting the same release from your own debt, only just before the judge finds you guilty Jesus takes your place and accepts your debt on himself… forgiving you completely. Ask God to help you offer this same forgiveness to the person(s) you identified.*
Supporting scripture: Matt. 5:23-24, 6:14-15, 18:21-22; 2 Cor. 5:19-20; Eph. 4:32; Heb. 12:14
*As noted by Christian counselor Dan Allender, “Forgiveness involves a heart that cancels the debt but does not lend new money until repentance occurs.” The other person’s repentance and reconciliation with God is on them, although we can, and should, pray for that.
12) Trust God.
Imagine holding a backpack of all your fears. How big does the backpack need to be to hold them? How much does it weigh? Now imagine the God of the universe holding your entire backpack with just a pinky finger (because he’s that big). He holds it gently, compassionately, to signify how much he cares. Tell God you want him to carry your burdens and fears because you know he works all things for your good and his glory. Then, decide today to practice believing and trusting God more.
Supporting scripture: Psalm 18:30; Prov. 3:5-6; John 11:40; Romans 8:28; 1 John 4:18
We were never intended to do life alone. Stay connected with your community and talk regularly with someone you trust. To connect with a trained counselor 24/7, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text MHA to 741741. In crisis, you can also call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Bonus Tip: Need to find a Christ-centered community who can support you through recovery from a hurt, habit, or hangup? Find a Celebrate Recovery group in your area.