worryThis month, the Self-Care Sunday series will focus on freedom. Join me each Sunday as I show how self-care can bring you freedom.

The Negative Effects of Worry

Worry wrapped its sticky fingers around me, threatening to pull me under a wave of despair. Big worries—my husband’s health, the mountain of debt built by cancer—that loomed giant and threatening. Small worries—what to fix for supper, grading papers, the girl at school who seemed depressed—that nagged like mosquitos on a hot summer evening.

Perhaps you can relate. Worries can pile up and cause a host of other problems such stress and depression. According to WebMD, “Worrying is feeling uneasy or being overly concerned about a situation or problem.”  All of us can easily fall into the trap of hyper-focusing on the what ifs in life. But doing so can turn into a nasty habit that perpetuates itself. The constant worrying turns into a sense of impending doom that makes you worry even more.

Living in this constant state of stress lowers our immune system, says David Ropeik in Psychology Today, by focusing our body’s energy on our flight or fight instincts by lowering our body’s response to lower-level functions such as digestion. If we allow worry to invade our space for too long, it can change us in ways we wouldn’t expect. According to Prevention, it can steal our memory, make us gain weight, reduce our libido, cause acne, and make our hair fall out.

There you have it. Worry can kill you (or at least reduce the quality of your life). Jesus tells us about the futility of worry in Matthew 6:25-34. When worry nips at your heels and nibbles at your conscience, try these five steps to banish it.

Freedom from Worry in Five Simple Steps

1. Resolve to get off the hamster’s wheel of worry. Worry has no purpose (Luke 12:25) and it will take you nowhere.

You CAN find freedom from worry! Find out how! #worry #anxiety #mentalhealth #selfcare2. Obey God. God commands us to ‘fear not,’ and he promises to be with us (Isaiah 41:10).

3. Ask for the Holy Spirit. Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit, “He will remind you of all the things I have told you” (John 14:25-27 MSG). We worry because we don’t trust, but we need the Holy Spirit to remind us that God is trustworthy.

4. Fixate on Jesus. Each time a worry whispers in your ear. Say the name of Jesus. He promises to keep you in perfect peace if you fix your thoughts on him (Isaiah 26:3).

5. Praise and petition God. Replace each worry that presents itself with a praise to God. Worried about money? Praise God for the beautiful flowers he created. Ask God to take away your worries and keep replacing them with praises. He promises peace (Philippians 4:6).

By applying these five principles in my life, I’ve learned to banish worry and focus my energy on more positive things—like hope. I love the color green—especially the greens of forests and fields of wild grasses. So, I especially love The Message translation of Romans 15:13

“Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!”

May the God of green hope teach you how to replace worry with his presence.

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