Wondering how to manage your anxiety as a Christian mom? These biblical strategies work in the counseling room, and they’ll work for you too.
How do I control my anxiety?
It’s a question that so many moms are struggling with every day.
Worry and anxiety steal our joy and peace, and it is almost impossible to truly enjoy family life when you’re wrestling with worry.
But it’s such a common struggle that you might even start to think it’s normal!
Yes, anxiety is a normal part of the human experience… but God has a better way. And as you learn to manage anxiety when it pops up, you’ll find more peace and joy in your daily life – and your family relationships will grow so much deeper.
Today, we’re doing a deep dive into the question of how to control anxiety. I’ll share the strategies that I’ve used again and again as a Christian counselor, and the biblical foundation for why they work.
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Managing your emotions matters
Anxiety and worry will quickly get in the way of every mom’s dream: ENJOYING every moment of family life .
If you want to soak up your time with your kids while they are little, you need to be fully present in the moment… and you can’t do that if you’re stuck in anxiety.
And if you want a happy Christian marriage with marital intimacy… you can’t always be distracted by your worrying.
In today’s world, anxiety is the #1 thing that brings people into counseling and steals their joy from family life. Let’s take a look at what’s going on with anxiety (especially for us Christian moms!) and why we can do about it.
What anxiety and worry look like
Since this is such a focused conversation on a big mental health topic, I’ll start by reminding you that I am a licensed counselor, but this blogpost (and all of my resources) are informational and not professional therapy. See my disclaimer statement for more.
I know how common anxiety is for Christian moms today. One of the most common questions I hear from women is some version of this question: “How do I control my anxiety?”
But sometimes, we mean different things when we say “anxiety” – so let’s take a look at some of the most common symptoms. If you’re struggling with worry or anxiety, what might be some warning signs that you need to do something about it?
- Are you struggling physically? Anxiety might include feeling fidgety or restless but also may include stomachaches, headaches, dizziness, and even panic attacks, where you feel like you can’t breathe or you’re having a heart attack.
- What about emotionally? Worry and anxiety often come with feeling nervous and uneasy, but also feeling irritable or having outbursts of anger or crying.
- You will definitely find that your thinking is not helpful. For many people, the mental symptoms of anxiety are the most obvious. If you can’t slow down your thoughts or find yourself constantly thinking in a negative pattern or believing things that are untrue or unhelpful, this might be anxiety.
- There are relational impacts too. It might be difficult to trust other people or to feel intimate and close with the people you love, because your’e always thinking and worrying.
Of course, just like with depression, anxiety happens on a scale. For many women, it’s an occasional thing that it annoying but can be managed. For others, it is a full clinical diagnosis that is making it difficult to live life well.
If you are struggling in a big way, please talk to your pastor, seek a counselor, and get help. Jesus does not want you to spend your life worrying… He wants you to enjoy an abundant life with him and the family He has given you.
Why do I struggle with anxiety... I'm a Christian!
As you find yourself thinking, “How do I control my anxiety?” the next question is probably this one: “Why do I struggle with anxiety, I’m a Christian!”
The reality is, even when we are following Jesus and have a close relationship with him,, we still live in a broken world. In fact, one of Jesus’ promises in the gospel of John is this: “In this world, you will have trouble.” (John 16:33a)
Not our favorite promise from the Lord! But that’s only the first half of his promise. He continues immediately with this promise: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b)
Even Christians will struggle with the brokenness and sin of this world. But as Christians, you have a powerful weapon against anxiety: The Holy Spirit! Before we look at that, though, let’s acknowledge some of the reasons why Christians struggle to control anxiety and worry.
- Our bodies are broken by the Fall, and many of us have chemical imbalances or hormonal issues that can be linked with anxiety.
- The sin and evil in the world is real, and there is plenty going on in the news, on social media, and in our own communities that can legitimately scare us and worry us.
- The world around us, and Satan himself, are constantly telling us lies. It’s difficult sometimes to recognize them or constantly refute them. “What if” thoughts and “just follow your heart” thoughts are not helpful and not godly, but they are all around us.
- We all go through seasons of spiritual dryness where we might not be as consistent in reading our Bible, praying, or staying involved in our faith community. This can weaken our defenses against anxiety.
How do I control my anxiety? The action steps.
There are tons of places in the Bible where God talks about anxiety. But one of my favorites as a Christian counselor is to turn to Philippians 4 – because not only does God tell us “do not be anxious about anything” but He tells us exactly what to do when we are feeling anxious!
So let’s walk through one of the most helpful verses in the whole Bible for dealing with anxiety:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)
In a separate post, we walk through the next verse, Philippians 4:7, which gives God’s PROMISE for us when we are feeling anxious – you definitely need that truth to find hope in the middle of your worry!
And next week, we’ll be diving deep into Philippians 4:8 and looking at how to take control of our thought lives.
But let’s start now by breaking down the action steps God gives us in this verse.
1. Make God bigger than your problems.
The Apostle Paul uses two words in this verse that we typically try to avoid (at least in the counseling room):
Most things in life are not truly “always” or “never.” But anxiety is!
God is clear that there is absolutely NOTHING in this life that needs to drown us in anxiety. The emotion might be normal, but because of God, it is totally unnecessary.
In EVERY situation, you can manage your anxiety. He is not promising that this will be an easy or simple task. But He is making it clear that He is bigger than your problems.
Every single one of them.
Now, God is not saying that the troubles you are facing don’t matter. He’s not saying that they are easy or insignificant. The emotions you feel are real and they are important.
But when we struggle with anxiety, we tend to make the problem big. We focus on it. Our thoughts resolve around it. Instead, God says we should turn our focus to Him and make Him bigger than our problems.
2. By prayer and petition
One of the best ways to make God bigger than your problems is to turn to him.
Pray and petition him with what you need to control your anxiety.
Yes, this includes praying and petitioning about the thing that is making you feel anxious. If you’re worried about your child’s friend group, pray about that! Ask God to work in that situation.
But this also includes praying about the emotional struggle with anxiety and worry.
In fact, I think that God wants us to pray about that first.
At the end of this verse, we are told to “present your requests to God.” And we’ll look at that action step in just a minute! But I think this is where God is inviting us to ask him for all the things we want, need, and are feeling worried about.
First, God cares about your heart.
He wants you to trust him. To lean on him. As the psalms say, He wants to be your refuge and your strength.
So when you are struggling with anxiety, pray about that. Confess the worry and ask God to fill you with trust. Seek his peace. Ask him to comfort you.
With the big things and the small things – “in every situation” – pray and petition. Ask God to replace the anxiety with peace, joy, and trust.
3. With thanksgiving
As your problems get bigger in your own mind, your gratitude gets smaller. You’ll notice everything that’s wrong, everything you’re worried about, and miss the things that are great.
So this intentional step is really helpful: focus on thanksgiving!
Whatever you think about and focus on will control your emotions. For example, I could tell you: “feel anxious right now.” But you would only be able to do that if you start thinking about things that make you feel anxious.
When that’s what is going on, turn your attention to the opposite. Ask yourself a few questions to change your focus onto gratitude.
- What am I thankful for?
- How have I already seen God show up in this situation?
- Where is the Lord already bringing blessing into my life?
- What great things are going on in my family, my church, my life, my heart?
Yes, turn to God with your problems. But don’t ignore the blessings you already have to be thankful for. At the highest level, you have the gospel! Give thanks for the forgiveness you have in Christ and the new life He gives you.
3. Present your requests
As I mentioned above, God wants you to pray over the emotion of anxiety – but He also wants you to trust him to handle the situation that is making you feel anxious!
Present you requests to God. Tell him what you need. What you want. Ask him to step into the stressful situation and make it better.
If you’re worried about your child’s friend group, ask God to bring godly friends into their life and to protect their heart from peer pressure.
Or maybe you’re worried about your marriage. Ask God to turn your husband’s heart toward you, ask Him to restore communication in your marriage, or ask Him to bring more joy and intimacy in your relationship.
Sometimes, we convince ourselves that our requests are too small to bother God with. We try to pretend they aren’t that big of a deal or don’t really matter.
But if you’re worried about something, God wants to hear about it. He wants to help!
Of course, presenting your requests to God does not mean that you will get everything you’re asking for. God is not a magic genie with the job to make you happy every day. He is good, and He will work out the situation in the best possible way, even if you don’t understand it in the moment. But He wants you to come to him with every emotion and every request.
4. Trust what He does
One of my pastors will often say that we show we trust God by praising him no matter what happens. We ask for what we want and need, and then we praise him no matter what happens.
Take a look at the next verse in Philippians, and you’ll find great encouragement in how God promises to respond to your anxiety. He promises to give you peace. Peace that doesn’t even make sense! Peace that protects your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
In every situation that makes you anxious, you can trust God.
When you’re feeling worried, you can trust God.
And as you learn to manage this hard emotion, as you find an answer to the question of how to control anxiety, you’ll find that you can ENJOY family life more. You can lean into your family relationships more. And God will bring peace, joy, and purpose into all parts of home and family
Listen to Episode #133
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Disclaimers: I am a licensed therapist but my podcast, blog, and resources are not professional or personal advice. I am an affiliate for many of the resources that I link to, and may earn a small commission if you purchase through my link. Read my full disclaimer here.