Are you stressed and overwhelmed? Every decision feels like a major life decision this year. I want to share what has been helping me process my feelings and worries. Instead of letting anxiety swirl around unbridled in our minds, let’s rein it in and put it on paper. Seeing things in black and white helps us be logical, take steps to work through dilemmas and even raise our dopamine levels by achieving a sense of accomplishment.
I created a printable worksheet of the things I jot down when my mind becomes too full. When we have so much going on it’s hard to even identify what is causing our stress. A weight is lifted by identifying our stressors alone. Instead of one giant looming during sleepless nights, there are smaller, more identifiable obstacles.
Click image to get high-resolution version. Downloading the image to your desktop and then printing usually works best.
If you struggle with anxiety, chances are you are an insightful and sensitive person. Those are lovely, God-given characteristics, but on earth usually our strengths are also our greatest weaknesses. When people prone to anxiety have their sensitivities bombarded, and when they can’t make sense of what is happening around them, anxiety creeps in.
As a sensitive person, I sometimes envy qualities of bold and dynamic personalities. But they too have a pendulum swing of strengths and weaknesses. Whereas some experience anxiety under stress, charismatic personalities might become prideful or angry.
It’s time to put down whatever we are self-medicating with because it’s only masking the problem. We have to address what is really on our hearts and be courageous.
Skip the coffee, try a weighted blanket (I have this one and LOVE it), try Formula 303 (natural muscle relaxant) or magnesium to ease nerves. And let’s get going on this worksheet to live without fear!
Top stresses + what can be done?
First identify your top stresses instead of letting them be bundled all together in one giant stress ball.
Second, is there anything that can be done about them? If there is something that can be done — a call, an errand, an apology — then there you go, do it!
But oftentimes we fear the unknown. We imagine circumstances and worry about things that will never happen. Stop saying “what if” and start asking yourself “what is.”
And finally, if it’s a hard decision or something that requires waiting, pray. Pray every day. Don’t tire of praying. God will give you an answer in time. I think we tend to think that “answer” means yes, but keep in mind, sometimes the answer is no.
Also remember that beautiful things happen to our character during waiting. Waiting is a tool that will bring us to our knees and depend on God. Imagine how much you would grow spiritually if nothing bad ever happened to you and you got everything you ever wanted without working. You would be naive and boastful. God is growing us to be wise and humble. He’ll do whatever it takes to mold us to be more like his son because he loves us that much! He promises to never leave us, to walk beside us and lend us HIS strength. Lean on him!
When you’re stressed everything seems like bigger task than it really is. When you’re on edge you’re not even sure where to start.
Take a few minutes and write down everything you can think of that you need to do. You might not have room on this paper, but keep going, get it all out!
Top 3 priorities for today
Chances are you cannot tackle that entire to-do list in one day. And that’s ok! Instead, identify the top three priorities from that list. Write those down on the sheet and focus on those today.
Sometimes anxiety paralyzes us and we would prefer to lie in bed and do nothing — but doing something gives us a sense of accomplishment. And accomplishment increases dopamine.
Dopamine is a feel-good neurotransmitter that delivers messages to the rest of our body. It affects things such as learning, motivation, heart rate, sleep, mood, attention.¹
Lack of dopamine is thought to be a culprit to some mental disorders and addiction problems.
So let’s boost it and tackle what we can today!
Along the same lines, a grateful heart increases oxytocin.
If you’re curious about the difference between dopamine and oxytocin (I was #nerd), I found this:
Dopamine is your brain’s signal that a reward is at hand. The joyful excited feeling is released when you approach something that meets an unmet need. Oxytocin is the good feeling of social trust. It’s released when you find the safety of social support. Source: Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy
Oxytocin is the same “love hormone” that is released during pregnancy, labor and breastfeeding.
So take some time and process what you are grateful for right now. Instead of focusing on the one or two stresses in life, focus on all that is good and lovely.
And put on a smile! Do it, even if it’s fake. Research shows the physical act of smiling can trigger good things in the brain!
A grateful person puts on armor against jealousy, anxiety and fear. When you’re grateful, you’re honoring God.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. — Philippians 4:8
Pray for others
How many times do we tell someone we’ll pray for them and then completely forget! (Sigh and forehead slap.)
First of all, it’s a great idea to pray right then and there for that person. And then write it down. There’s a spot on the worksheet to write the names of those you are praying for as well as subjects that are on your heart.
In our human way, we believe that focusing more on ourselves will satisfy our desire for love and happiness, but it does not and cannot!
Our generation promotes of self-focus, self-care, self-importance, self everything! We’re so concerned about what we want, how to get it and when we’ll get it that we become incapacitated to see or care about the needs of those around us. True love means putting others before ourselves.
And it will bring you more joy than you can imagine to do something kind for someone. Or send them a message you are praying for them.
Click image for high-res, printable image.
10 more ways to fight fear
- Memorize Psalm 23 (printable above)
- Go outside
- Take intentional deep breaths
- Turn off screens
- Eat a healthy diet
- Visit a friend
- Act of kindness
I quit facebook a few weeks ago! I didn’t get on very often, but when I did I noticed that I felt discouraged and sometimes judgmental. So I deleted my account! And it felt GREAT. I was actually smiling the rest of the day, haha!
Click image for high-res, printable image.
Fight fear with the Word
We are not in charge of how many years or hours or minutes we have on this earth, God is in control of that. And he has said not worry. He loves us deeply — so much he would sacrifice his only son. He knows the numbers of hairs on our head. (Luke 12:7) He keeps count of our tossings and puts our tears in his bottle. (Psalm 56:8)
It is said there are over 365 versus telling us not to fear in the Bible — that is a verse for every day of the year! It is not a suggestion; is a command and a truth. The more mature you grow in your faith, the less you fear.
“Jesus doesn’t condemn legitimate concern for responsibilities but rather the continuous mindset that dismisses God’s presence.” — Max Lucado, Fearless
Let’s be courageous!
Share this with someone who needs this today!
P.S. I had finished the post, but the word courageous is lingering on my mind. What if we not only overcome anxiety, but also decided to be courageous on top of that? That’s a double punch!
God tells us over and over to be courageous. He will help us do it!
Here’s one more printable for you to hang up!:
Click image for high-res image.
I wrote SO much more about overcoming fear in this post. Give it a read and you won’t feel helpless anymore! It’s like getting a reality hug.