By Faithgirlz Author, Allia Zobel Nolan
I admit it. I’m a worrywart. I’ve been one all my life. In fact, worrying IS my life. And recent world events haven’t helped matters. You name it; I worry about it. I’m anxious over terrorism, hurricanes, global warming, meteorites, bridge collapses, falling elevators, Ebola, lightning, and eclipses. Of course, I also worry about deer ticks, ingrown toenails, my cats leaving me, and that investigators will someday discover the amount of calories in a one-hundred calorie yogurt is actually 350. I’m anxious for family, friends, relatives—all of mankind—even strangers. I fret about the past, the present, the pluperfect. And that’s just a drop in my sea of jitters.
So where is God while I’m wringing my hands? Probably in his office, with a “Don’t worry. Be happy” sign on his desk. I can see Him now, sitting there, shaking His head, thinking:
Where’s her trust? Doesn’t she realize I’m in charge? Doesn’t she know all the worrying in the world—even by a professional like her—is moot? Haven’t I told her over and over (365 times in the Bible to be precise) “Do not be afraid”? Didn’t my Son explain about the lilies, the birds of the field, the rock and the bread, the snake and the fish? What gives? What do I have to do to make her understand?
Okay, so I know I shouldn’t worry. But I do. I’m still a work-in-progress. But I’ve done some research and even written a book about it. Here are a few tips to help manage all the worry.
1. Let There Be No Crisis before its Time
Don’t worry about something that will take place in a week, a day, or even an hour. The variables will be different then than they are today. If you have to make a decision on Friday, wait until Friday, and see what the day brings. Remember, Jesus said, “…do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (Matthew 6:34)
2. Don’t Let Possessions Possess You
When you let material things rule you, you give them power. For example, if you can’t find your favorite earrings, don’t let that spoil your day. You can buy another pair, but you can’t get back another day. Jesus reminds us “… do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25)
3. Set Worry Limits
If you feel yourself falling into the worry trap, but find it hard to control, do the next best thing: establish limits. Set a timer or a phone alarm for 15 minutes. Tell yourself: “I feel the need to think about this (my split ends; my lack of Facebook friends; the bully in PE, whatever). But I’ll only do it for 15 minutes.” When the time is up, the alarm will be a tangible reminder to let the worry go. Schedule this time when you have something important to do immediately afterwards (like meeting your BFF to go shopping, or doing an errand for your mom). This way, you’ll have to drop worry and refocus fast.
4. Stay Grounded in the Present
Imagine: You’re at the movies and a worrisome thought crosses your mind. Oh my goodness, I was supposed to meet Ginger today after lab to give her the notes she wanted. I, like, totally forgot. She’s going to hate me. That thought leads to another: Maybe I can text her now and tell her I can bring the notes to her house tomorrow. In the meantime, you’ve missed half the movie. Quash worrying thoughts such as these with some questions:
- Can this wait?
- Do I have to stop what I’m doing and fix this immediately?
- Can I solve this problem right now, right this minute?”
If the answer is “No,” then stay in the present moment and make a note to “fix” the problem later.
5. Keep a Worry Journal
Jot down what you are worried about, the date, and how much time you spend on the worry-go-round. For example, “I’m joining my church’s teen choir on Wednesday. What if the others think I’m a dork? What if my voice cracks? I spent all day, on and off, worrying about this. May 10, 2015.” Then, the following Wednesday, when you return from choir after having an awesome time, you’ll realize your fears were all in your head.
Do this with all your anxieties and you’ll see how many of the things you worried about actually happened, and how many didn’t. Referring to this journal often will show you how much time you waste worrying needlessly.
Start working on your worries by trying out some of the tips above. Check back next week for more advice on eliminating worry from Faithgirlz Author Allia Zobel Nolan. Zobel Nolan is the author of Whatever: Livin’ the True, Noble, Totally Excellent Life, The Worrywart’s Prayer Book, Angels in the Bible Storybook, a contributing author of The Beauty of Believing: 365 Devotions that Will Change Your Life, and over 170 other titles . Visit her at www.AlliaWrites.com.