My five-year-old son came to me today and asked, "Mommy, do you ever worry?"
I would have liked to say that no I don't worry, but in my desire to be 100% honest with him, I replied, "Yes, honey, I worry sometimes. Are you feeling worried about something?" He said, "Yes. I'm feeling worried about people dying from the Coronavirus." I said, “Me too Buddy, but do you know what God tells us to do when we are worried? Let’s go see what the Bible says.”
I'll be honest. I am feeling a bit anxious about the Coronavirus myself. I worry about the government restrictions, the response of the people, and the toilet paper shortage. I know we all are. Fear, anxiety, depression, and other similar feelings are very common today and even more so since these crazy times started. When my son asked me about it, he presented me with an opportunity to talk to him about what God says about fear and worry.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Fear can be debilitating. It causes anxiety and stress. Stress can have a huge impact on your health, mind and heart. It can cause a wide variety of unhealthy physical symptoms. No wonder there are so many commands in the Bible to “Fear not!” When worry and anxiety creep in, there are some things that you can do to get rid of them. You must do what is best for your physical and mental health so you can continue living as good of a life as you can. You must do what is best for your spiritual health so you can remain faithful to God.
Fear is an emotion that draws someone into a self-protective mode. Anxiety is a constant fearful state, accompanied by a feeling of unrest, dread, or worry in which the person may not be aware of what is creating the feeling of fear. - AIFC*
Pray. The number one thing you can do for fear, anxiety, depression, and stress is take it to the Lord. Scripture offers hope for the debilitating aspects of fear and anxiety. This is difficult to do. We think it’s easier to hold on to control because if we’re not in control, then what? We even fear the unknown. We tend to doubt the Lord and His ability to handle our problems. The following exercise has helped me to give my fears over to the Lord.
Fear to Faith Activity
Take a few minutes and do this activity. It will teach you how to take your fears to Christ and let him handle them. He is ultimately in control of things we could never be in control of.
You are going to make a list titled "Fears List.” Under the title write down things that make you feel fearful or anxious. Then you are going to do what Philippians 4:6 says and pray about each of the things on your list. When you are done praying, cross out the word "Fears" and write "Prayer.” Your fears list will change into your prayer list. This is how mine looks:
After you write down your fears, search your Bible, Bible app, Concordance, or the internet to find out what the scriptures say about your specific fears. Next to each of your listed fears, write a corresponding Bible verse that answers your fears with a promise. Here is an example of how to do it.
Use this as an opportunity to memorize scripture. If the Word is written on your heart, you easily can access it when trials come; and they will come. Each time you feel fearful of something, add it to your list, pray about it, then choose not to dwell on it. You have the choice not to live in fear. Choose what is best for you!
Exercise! Spend some time in God’s beautiful creation. Get some exercise outside if possible. Even small amounts of exercise change your body’s chemistry. The Mayo Clinic lists these good things that exercise can do for your health - physical and mental: increases your endorphins, improves your mood, increases your self-confidence, relaxes you, lowers symptoms of mild anxiety and depression, improves sleep which can be disrupted by stress, increases your fitness level, and gives you a sense of command over your body and your life.
You don’t have to do much. Don’t make it just one more box to check off. Find something that you love to do. You can take a walk in a park. Go for a bike ride on a quiet trail. Swim in a nearby pool or lake. Do deep breathing exercises. Even stretching is good for you!
Cut out unhealthy or addictive substances. "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31
Stop smoking. SmokeFree.Gov says that smoking cigarettes instead of dealing with your anxiety will only make it worse in the long run. Not to mention nicotine is linked to mood changes.
Cut out the alcohol. According to healthline.com, "Alcohol is a sedative and a depressant that affects the central nervous system." It may make you feel good for a moment, but it will not fix anything. In fact, it could just make it worse.
Ditching caffeine is something else you should do. Research from the Cambridge University Press shows that caffeine may cause or worsen anxiety disorders. It may also cause panic attacks in people with panic disorder. In some people, eliminating caffeine may significantly improve anxiety symptoms.
Stop eating/drinking sugar. Sugar gives you a high, but it also makes you crash. Psychology Today lists 4 Ways Sugar Could Be Harming Your Mental Health.
Get Some Sleep! According to an article called Sleep Disorders written by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, "anxiety causes sleeping problems, and new research suggests sleep deprivation can cause an anxiety disorder." Sleep is SO important. What Happens When You Sleep? Your body has the ability to heal, keep your immune system strong, and balance your appetite. If you are sleep deprived, you may feel more irritable and anxious.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. - Matthew 11:28-30
Alternative Therapy. Get a massage, a facial, a manicure or pedicure. Get an adjustment by a chiropractor. Look into a light box or light therapy. You can go to a float spa or salt spa. Journal. Relaxation exercises. Aromatherapy. Time with animals. herbal teas. Acupuncture. Support groups. Go on a vacation if you can. There are so many options here!
I want to encourage you to talk to Jesus about your fears. All the activities listed above can help distract you from the things you're afraid of, but only by giving them to Jesus and choosing to let go of control, will you truly be free from fear. Fear cannot thrive where faith exists. Our fears are nothing compared to the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. " 1 Peter 5:7
1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." Jesus is the answer to everything!