Many holy scriptures include instructions on how to circumvent the worries of the world. Buddhism teaches practitioners to live in the present rather than dwelling on the past or fretting about the future. The Bhagavadgita encourages readers to bypass fear by pursuing the selfless service of others to the best of their abilities. The Bible instructs believers to cast fears and worries aside because God is present and will take care of them.
As comforting as these thoughts may be, learning to worry less is easier said than done. It takes practice to change your perspective from trepidation to trust.
Prayer and Meditation
Spending time in prayer or meditation is a common recommendation for those who tend to worry too much. Both practices are known for bringing a sense of calm to people who make them a habit. Once you quiet your mind enough to engage in prayer, you may find that the answers to the problems you're facing become more easily apparent, thus alleviating some of the anxiety that comes with them. To get these benefits, however, you probably need to make prayer or meditation a regular habit.
To make your daily practice more intentional, you need a plan. Many people have a specific space they set aside for talking to God or meditating, but for most faiths, this isn't strictly necessary. No matter where you pray, though, consider the following steps to give yourself time to relax in the presence of God:
- Find a private space.
- Have a journal and pen ready so you can write down anything that you want to remember.
- Sit quietly for a few minutes, allowing your mind to slow down.
- Once you are calm, lift any thought that races through your mind to God.
Using this method allows the things that worry you most to come to the surface so that you can pray and release them. If nothing comes to mind, think about the people you love and ask for peace for them. Even if you only spend 5-10 minutes praying or meditating, you are likely to notice that fewer things bother you throughout the day.
Counsel and Community
It's easy to get bogged down with worry when you feel alone or isolated. It's scary to think you have to handle all the problems that come your way by yourself. You may start to believe that you don't have the resources to overcome obstacles or meet your basic needs.
Having a strong support system to fall back on can help you face your fears with courage. If you are feeling overwhelmed, there is a good chance that others are, too. Invite some friends over for coffee or dinner with the intention of sharing what's going on in your lives. Just saying your worries out loud can lift some of the burden off your shoulders.
If this doesn't help, or if the fears return as soon as everyone leaves, consider seeking additional support. Most pastors have had some training on listening to congregants who are going through tough times, and if your worries are beyond the scope of their expertise, they can likely refer you to a therapist. Your faith community may also host support groups for those who are struggling with worry. The key is recognizing the abundant resources available to you and finding one that fits your needs.
It's one thing to be told not to worry but quite another to make an intentional effort to allay your fears. Once you take the first step toward calming the concerns that overwhelm you, you may be delighted to find how much freer you feel.