We've all felt it--and some of us feel it everyday. That heart-racing, gut-clenching anxiety that grips our whole mind and body. For some of us, it's a rare occurrence that's tied to out of the ordinary stressful circumstances. For others of us, it's a daily burden we carry--and we've forgotten what it feels like to be truly at peace.
And there are variety of solutions offered--medication, diet, therapy, etc.--but the thing that I have found to be the most effective (and the most readily available!) is something I like to call The Thankfulness Game.
"Game," you say? Well yes, it's more fun to think of it that way. You see, whenever I start to feel anxious (or realize that I have been feeling anxious for a while!) I stop and think of 5 things that I am thankful for. They all have to be relatively present things in my life--like the coffee I am drinking that moment or the beautiful weather--not long-past things (like my favorite childhood memory) or future-hopeful things (like a prayer of faith for my mortgage payment to come through).
The key is living in the moment and noticing all the ways God is taking care of me RIGHT NOW. You see, for me and many others, the fastest way to get anxious is to jump into the future and worry about all the things that could possibly go wrong. But they haven't gone wrong yet! And living there won't do anybody any good.
In fact, Jesus said that we only have the capacity to "worry" about today's issues. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34).
Picture a coffee cup. It only has enough room for that day's coffee. But imagine trying to pour in tomorrow's coffee and the next day's and the next day's...you're going to get coffee everywhere. And that's how a lot of us mentally feel: drowned and soaked in our worries.
So: That's the power of The Thankfulness Game. It takes you out of tomorrow and draws you back into today--to notice all the ways that God is taking care of you. And the Bible actually confirms that thankfulness is directly tied to peace: "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6,7).
So, as you go through your day, if you start to feel anxious, just play The Thankfulness Game. Stop and think of 5 things that you are presently thankful for and then just keep doing that as needed! Sometimes I play the game tens of times throughout the day. But the positive side is think how much I have the opportunity to be grateful each day! And I promise, it really does lessen my anxiety!
So, what are 5 things YOU are thankful for today? Share them in the Comments! I can't wait to hear!