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7 Ways You Are Letting Anxiety Control Your Day

Award-winning Christian Novelist and Journalist
Published Nov 02, 2023
7 Ways You Are Letting Anxiety Control Your Day

We humans so often let the weight of the world and its constant concerns overwhelm us. At times, anxious thoughts plague us without relief.

The Bible has much to say about this — and about the peace and perfect rest we find in our Lord.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus points out the birds of the air and flowers of the field, noting how compassionately and completely our Father God cares for them, clothing them in finery and providing all their needs.

Given God’s deep care for us, his children, Jesus urges us to remember God will take care of us even greater.

As he says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25).

Adding to this, the Apostle Paul urges us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

But while we can read these passages a thousand times, sometimes knowing something and truly understanding it are two different things. For many of us, anxiety can begin to control our days and utterly consume our lives, causing trouble in our physical health, our relationships, our jobs, and even our spiritual lives.

Many people have anxiety disorders, from social anxiety and panic attacks to generalized anxiety disorder. Medication and behavioral techniques can help alleviate these, but there are times when we have difficulty recognizing when anxiety problems are beginning to get out of control.

How do you know when anxiety is getting to be a problem? Here, let’s take a look at seven ways you are letting anxiety control your day.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Siarhei Khaletski

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1. Sleep Troubles

1. Sleep Troubles

One major indicator that anxiety is beginning to control your day is when you are having sleep disruption. Sometimes this starts out imperceptibly — restless sleep and night waking or feeling sluggish the next day. Other times, we might be plagued with nightmares or unusual, troubling dreams.

Getting adequate sleep is tremendously important, not only to our physical health but also to our emotional, mental, and spiritual health. When we get the recommended sleep we need — usually seven to nine hours each night — our bodies can heal and grow. Our skin is restored, and our brain cells have a chance to refresh and regenerate.

When we don’t get enough sleep, it can lead to stress, which can lead to anxiety. Likewise, when we experience anxiety, our brains can sometimes be too nervous or restless to relax properly.

If you start to notice decreased or restless sleep, look inward. Start to ask yourself whether you are feeling anxious before bed, or in general.

Assess: why am I feeling this way? Ask the Lord to reveal the source of this, and ask him to guide you in ways to give over your anxiety to him. As 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Ways to help with this: incorporate a sleep routine before you go to bed, including washing your face, doing relaxing stretching exercises, taking a soothing warm bath, and turning off electronic devices an hour or more before you go to sleep.

Also, think about some of these Scriptures. Is God speaking to you through any of them?

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety (Psalm 4:8).

Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep (Psalm 121:4).

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust (Psalm 91:1-2).

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Viacheslav Peretiatko

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man with head in hands battling alcohol addiction

2. Coping with Sugar or Alcohol

Another telltale way we can recognize anxiety is starting to control our day is when we start self-soothing with certain things. Perhaps we start to crave sugary foods, ice cream, potato chips, or lots and lots of carbohydrates.

Perhaps we drink alcohol, even if this only looks like a few more glasses of wine each week than usual. Maybe we soothe with other things that can be problematic like compulsive shopping.

If we notice when we’re feeling stressed or sad that our first thought to help us feel better is having something sweet to eat or pouring a glass of wine, that’s a strong indicator our anxiety is taking control.

Often, we think we feel better when we eat sugary foods and carbohydrates, particularly those made of white flour. But usually, they have the opposite effect.

They make us feel sluggish and hurt our immunity, thereby increasing our tendency to experience stress. Alcohol is a depressant, and it can also cause further problems.

The Bible tells us that when we experience struggle, sadness, trouble, anxiety, or despair, we’re supposed to turn to God.

Food and drink or other earthly, fleshly things cannot solve our problems, and often they can make them worse. Sometimes these things become a sort of idol in our lives, too.

Ways to help with this: if you notice you are turning to food or something similar during times of anxiety, force yourself to stop. Drink a glass of water. Take a moment to sit in a quiet spot and breathe or focus on some mindfulness exercises.

If you are genuinely hungry for a meal, that is one thing. But ice cream can’t make the bogeyman go away. Look inward and try to put words to the emotions you are feeling.

Are you angry? Scared? Heartbroken? Lonely? What is the root of your anxiety at this moment? Sometimes naming it can be a huge help.

Meditate and pray on these Scriptures as well and see if there’s something God wants you to hear in them:

Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path: Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags (Psalm 23:19-21).

If you find honey, eat just enough — too much of it, and you will vomit (Proverbs 25:16).

For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes (Luke 12:23).

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/tommaso79

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frustrated woman, prayers for anger

3. Temper Flares and Impatience

Have you ever thought you were perfectly even-keeled, but the person spending time with you keeps asking what’s the matter or if you are angry at them? Or perhaps something unexpected happened and you overreacted, impatiently lashing out.

We all fall short sometimes. No one is perfect. But if you notice the people around you complaining about your grumpiness or irritability, don’t dismiss their words. Take a look at yourself and see if it’s true. Often, our anxiety can reveal itself in anger or outbursts of temper.

It indicates our minds bodies and souls are jam-packed with other concerns, and we have so much going on inside ourselves that we can’t take one more thing. We are at the tipping point. This is a sure sign anxiety is starting to control our daily lives.

Ways to help with this: Exercise plays a huge role in regulating our moods and helping us unleash pent-up steam and aggravation without letting it spill out onto others.

It also helps us organize our thoughts and begin to analyze why we are feeling a certain way. Whether you go kickboxing or take a gentle stroll in nature, doing something physical can help a great deal with this.

Also, consider what is triggering some of this anger. Are you genuinely upset? Is there a problem in your life or a sin that needs addressing? Repressing problems makes them grow, and our anxiety increases right along with that. If it’s not a specific issue, begin to explore some of your feelings and stressors in life. What can you give over to the Lord? How can you cast these upon Jesus?

Also, take a look at these scriptures. Is God trying to speak to you through any of them?

Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:26-27).

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires (James 1:19-20).

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end (Proverbs 29:11).

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/MangoStar_Studio

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Skincare and spa supplies; beauty tips to protect your skin this summer.

4. Poor Self-care

Sometimes, when we are letting anxiety take control of our lives, we begin to slack on daily self-care routines. When I’m feeling really anxious, I might find myself using disposable facial wipes instead of washing my face in the sink.

Instead of making time for fitness, perhaps I skip. Studies indicate teens experiencing mental health struggles such as anxiety often begin skipping things like brushing their teeth or showering on a daily basis.

If you’re starting to scrimp on some of your basic self-care regimens, ask yourself why this is happening. Are you really so busy that you cannot make time for this? Are the stressful thoughts playing in your mind making even the simplest tasks feel arduous?

Ways to help with this: even if it seems really difficult and unnecessary, and even if you’re spending the day alone without another person in sight, stick to your basic self-care routine.

Wake up, eat a nutritious breakfast, shower and brush your teeth, put on some clean clothes, and take a few minutes to neaten your living space.

Remember, your body is a temple, and you are precious to the Lord, created in his image. Meditate on these Bible verses, and see if they speak to your heart:

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them (Genesis 1:27).

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Lilit Amirkhanian

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Woman praying in the dark

5. Poor Spiritual Care

Along with self-care, when we let anxiety control our daily lives, we usually neglect our spiritual life as well. Perhaps we pray to God, but it’s a desperate prayer filled with pleading. We are praying and yearning for a place of fear instead of peace.

This is not a bad thing, for the Bible tells us that when we are anxious, we are supposed to pray. But when every single one of our prayer moments with God is rooted in begging him to alleviate stress, this is a sign anxiety is strong.

Or perhaps we have found we cannot seem to pray. Maybe we feel like God seems far away or we cannot hear his voice.

It’s important to remember this is a feeling and not a fact. God does not change. God is always with us and always hears us. But when we feel he is distant, this is often a reflection of our own mental state. It’s a good indicator we are far more anxious than we think we are.

Maybe we also neglect other aspects of our prayer in our spiritual lives, such as reading the Bible or a devotional, attending worship, or gathering with Christian friends. These are all strong indicators that anxiety is taking control.

Ways to help with this: force yourself to engage in spiritual activities. Go to church even when you don’t feel like going. Pray, even if you think God can’t hear you — trust me, he can, and he does. Consider these scriptures as well:

Come near to God and he will come near to you (James 4:8 ).

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts (Colossians 3:16).

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/kieferpix

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Person on a beach breathing in and out

6. Shallow Breathing

When we’re feeling anxious, sometimes it’s difficult to recognize. Perhaps we stay so busy we don’t even slow down enough to gauge our reaction to stress.

Start paying attention to your breath throughout the day, for shallow breathing is a keyway that anxiety manifests in our daily lives.

Breath is so important to our human existence, and we can tell a lot about how we are doing simply by noticing our breathing patterns. Sit a moment.

Is your breathing fast or slow? Do you feel like you are taking a full, long, slow inhalation each time, or are you doing a lot of shallow breathing?

Shallow breathing indicates we are in a heightened state of anxiety or tension. Our muscles tighten, causing an impact on our breathing. This can be a symptom of anxiety we might even recognize.

If you find this is happening to you, there are a number of things we can do to slow down and increase the freedom and depth of our breathing. This can help everything from our oxygen levels to our blood pressure to our overall relaxation from muscle tension.

Ways to help with this: try “belly breathing,” where you focus on taking in a breath so deep and full it causes not only your chest but your stomach to rise. Allow your belly to rise and fall with your breath.

You can also try “square breathing,” where you draw an imaginary square in front of you. Breathe in as you slowly count to five and draw the first line of the square.

Hold your breath for five seconds as you draw the next line. Breathe out as you slowly count to five and draw the next line. Then hold for five seconds as you draw the final line. Repeat several times.

Also, pray on these Bible verses that focus on the power and importance of the breath:

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).

“I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:6),

You are a swift she-camel running here and there, a wild donkey accustomed to the desert, sniffing the wind in her craving …. Do not run until your feet are bare and your throat is dry (Jeremiah 2:23-25).

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/PeopleImages

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7. Negative Thoughts on Replay

7. Negative Thoughts on Replay

Perhaps you’ve experienced the harsh battering of negative thoughts that seem on constant replay in your mind: it will always be this way. I’m a loser. Nothing will change.

I’ll never be happy. I’m going to drown in this mountain of debt. Or perhaps you find yourself obsessing over the past, whether a wrong you did or a wrong done to you.

These repetitive negative thoughts are a strong indicator you are letting anxiety control your day.

Ways to help with this: often distraction can help with this. Try singing a praise song or volunteering to help someone. Prayerful meditation can also help. So can making a gratitude list. It can feel corny or silly, but it can break a negative thought cycle.

Finally, consider these Bible verses and whether they can help:

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2).

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy —think about such things (Philippians 4:8).

Anxieties can plague us all. Jesus knew this, and so did Peter, Paul, and others throughout the Bible. Let’s do our part to recognize when we are feeling anxious, and whether anxiety is looming so large it eclipses our ability to focus on the Lord and do his work in the world.

For further reading:

3 Ways You Can Fight Your Anxiety

5 Tips for Managing Anxiety

What Does the Bible Say about Anxiety?

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/tadamichi

Jessica Brodie author photo headshotJessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Her newest release is an Advent daily devotional for those seeking true closeness with God, which you can find at Learn more about Jessica’s fiction and read her faith blog at She has a weekly YouTube devotional and podcast. You can also connect with her on Facebook,Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed

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Originally published Thursday, 02 November 2023.