Living in the world today, most of us experience anxiety and overwhelm on a daily basis. However, what we want is to feel peace. Yet we are ever busy, going and doing. When we do finally have a few minutes to sit and rest, we choose to watch TV or get on social media. It's time to learn how to replace your anxiety with peace.
Everything in our daily lives is quick, and we want things now. We get food from the drive-through or zap it in the microwave…put another load of clothes in the washer….load the dishwasher. Our lives are about efficiency and speed instead of being present.
Do you ever yearn for days of quiet and slowness? Do you dream of days where the kids play in the backyard, and you can calmly work in the kitchen, or be out in the yard with them?
With all of the busyness of day to day life, anxiety can creep up on us. Even if you’ve never experienced a panic attack, you probably feel anxious or overwhelmed with it all on a daily basis.
I know I tend to feel that way. There’s always so much to do, and I often feel like I need to get things done now, right away, when they come into my awareness.
There are two ways to have less anxiety and more peace.
Each of these is a big-picture thing that anyone can do. You can make these changes starting today, wherever you are and however busy and overwhelming your life feels to you.
Way #1: Cultivate a slower lifestyle
One way to help replace your anxiety with peace is to cultivate a slower life. While you can start immediately, this is definitely something that takes time.
First, decide what things are truly important to you and your family.
Second, make gradual changes to align your life with those values.
If you have kids, think about all of the activities they’re in. Yes, sports and music and dance are all good things. But are they truly necessary for your child to grow into a happy, successful adult?
Would you rather eat together as a family, or rush out the door to get the kids to practice and eat at the drive through?
Now, perhaps your child wants to be a professional athlete, or musician, or dancer. If that’s the case, and it’s actually a huge desire and goal for your child, and not simply a fantasy, then you will probably want to support them in that goal.
One of the biggest blessings I’ve seen during our shelter-in-place time has been the slowing down people are experiencing. Yes, it’s forced.
But my friends with kids are generally quite happy that they’re not running around every night and all weekend. They’re enjoying time with their family, and the kids are doing just fine learning how to play and entertain themselves with hands-on activities (not more distractions, like video games and social media).
I’ve also noticed that people are much more patient. When I schedule appointments for our appliance repair business, people are happy to wait a week. They rarely complain about waiting a few days to get a washer or dishwasher repaired. One couple even said they’d be fine washing clothes by hand, since that’s what they did growing up anyway!
So much of our daily lives brings anxiety because we don’t allow the down time and relaxation time that we need. You weren’t meant to be a machine, and to go and go and go without recuperation.
And by the way, sleep by itself is not enough recuperation.
If you want to replace anxiety with peace, you need to seek out time to be….to create….to enjoy the simple things in life.
What simple things could you do, either by yourself or with your family?
Here’s a short list to get you started:
- brew your own tea or coffee, and simply sit and enjoy it
- read a book
- read a book to or with your kids
- play a board game
- get out in your yard and run around
- eat dinner in your yard
- take a bath with bubbles, Epsom salt, or essential oils
- exchange foot massages with your family members
- draw or paint
- cook or bake as a family
- make a recipe that you’ve never tried before
- go through the piles and boxes and get rid of stuff you don’t want or need
- make a family year book (I make one on Mixbook or Shutterfly every year)
- learn a new hobby – knit, crochet, woodworking, sew, make candles or lip balm
- start a garden
- plant herbs to use in cooking
- learn about herbal medicine
- call a family member you don’t normally talk to
- do yoga or chi gong
- play with your cat or dog
The idea is to do something that doesn’t involve technology and that allows you to relax. Do something that lets you slow down, be present, and notice life.
Peace comes as we let go of the busyness. How much of what you do everyday is actually necessary? Or perhaps, many things have come to seem necessary. What could you live without, which would let you slow down?
You'll replace anxiety with peace as you slow down and make more intentional choices about how you spend your time.
Way #2: Cultivate a peaceful mind
Everything I mentioned under the first way can help….but nothing you do to change your life will help if you’re still anxious on the inside.
You can slow down all you want externally, but if your inner chatter is “go, go, go,” or if you inner state of being is fearful or ramped up, you’ll still feel anxious and overwhelmed.
Cultivating inner peace is the key. This is will truly bring you peace, no matter what is happening in your world.
There are many things you can do to cultivate this inner peace, which comes from a peaceful mind and a peaceful heart.
Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
- t’ai chi or chi gong
- breathing exercises
Essentially, anything that helps you cultivate awareness and be in the present moment will dispel your anxiety.
This practice of being present is a life-long habit that will bring rewards far beyond your expectations. Focus on today, on one 5-minute meditation or breathing session. That’s it. Then do the same thing tomorrow. And every day.
We tend to think that when our life is peaceful, then we’ll feel peaceful. You probably think that if you slow down enough, stop having to run the kids around, work 40 hours a week instead of 60 or more, or get enough sleep, you’ll finally feel peaceful instead of overwhelmed.
We think that it’s our circumstances that create the feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.
If peace came only from peaceful circumstances, then you wouldn’t stand a chance! You’d be doomed to an anxious, stressful, depressing existence.
Peace, true peace, comes from inside. It has nothing to do with what’s going on outside.
True, lasting peace comes from one source – Jesus Christ.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27
Can you imagine being at peace while being robbed?
Let’s look at an extreme example of how Christ can bring you peace even in extremely trying circumstances. (This example is taken from this audiobook.)
A faithful group of six men and women were gathered together for a meal in a home in South Africa. They were all over 60, and were serving the Lord in different capacities in their church.
Suddenly, armed men came through the door. They grabbed one woman and threw her to the floor, breaking her arm in the process. A man got on her back and threatened to kill her.
The kicked another man in the face as he was sitting at the table, knocking him to the ground and almost unconscious.
They attacked every person in that room.
One robber put a gun point blank at one man's head and pulled the trigger....but the gun misfired.
And yet, these are some of the things these faithful people felt or experienced….
The woman with the broken arm reminded them, calmly, that they had come to rob them, and told him to take it all.
The man who was kicked in the face felt incredibly calm, and was surprised that all he suffered was a bloody nose.
Every person there reported feeling calm and at peace. They all also reported receiving clear impressions, directing them in things to say or to do.
Can you imagine feeling at peace while being robbed and threatened with death?
This kind of peace can come only through our Savior, Jesus Christ. It comes as we spend time daily getting to know him and keeping the commandments.
Through the habits of prayer, scripture reading, and service, we invite the Holy Ghost into our lives and into our hearts. As we become more and more pure, and draw closer to Christ, we experience more and more peace.
I have felt this incredible peace myself.
My first miscarriage happened when I was about 8 weeks pregnant. We ended up going to the hospital, and I had a (very mini) delivery, and that was it. Back home and in bed, I sobbed with my husband as I started to mourn this loss. He gave me a blessing, and immediately I felt a peace I have rarely felt since.
The feeling of peace was deep and penetrating. I knew I was loved and I knew everything would be ok. I felt calm. In fact, the feeling of peace filled our whole room. We were both able to fall asleep easily that night.
When you need immediate relief from anxiety and want to feel at peace, try listening to hymns. Just play the music in the background. You don’t even have to pay attention to it.
Why does this work?
Hymns bring peace because they speak of Christ. Even when played at a low volume, they literally bring a vibration of goodness into your home. All music brings a different spirit. When you want a spirit of peace, play hymns.
Recently, I woke feeling a bit anxious, and knew I’d need some extra help that day, beyond reading my scriptures.
Playing hymns quietly throughout the day will replace anxiety with peace.
I turned on the hymns, put the volume low, and let them play all day.
When my husband came home from work, I realized I’d felt calm all day. I was able to do everything I needed to, and yet there was no anxiety. I didn’t feel overwhelmed. In fact, I have a habit where I’ll munch on little pieces of chocolate during the day…and I realized I hadn’t done that all day! (The chocolate habit is one I use to relax, even if I am not aware of feeling stressed.)
In John 14:27, Christ tells us, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
In this scripture, the word “peace” implies quietness and rest. It also refers to prosperity. Something that is peaceful is not troubled, meaning it’s undisturbed.
When our heart is at peace, it’s at rest. Things of the world do not disturb us, even though they might be difficult.
Also, the “heart” in this scripture also means our feelings and thoughts. When we have Christ’s peace, our thoughts and feelings are at ease and undisturbed. It’s smooth sailing inside.
Peace inside leads to peace outside.
If you want to feel at peace, and get rid of your anxiousness, seek after Christ and you will find it.
Do one thing today to feel at peace
- There are many things you can do to replace anxiety with peace. Choose just ONE and start there.
- Making changes to your environment will help, but the best way to feel at peace is to change your inner world. Change your thoughts and feelings by coming to Christ for peace.
- Listening to hymns, praying, and reading the scriptures will all bring you peace.
When have you felt the most at peace?