Today’s Teaching is from Counselor, Bethany McGuire:

Anxiety and Coping Strategies


  • The most common mental illness in the US, affecting nearly 1/3 of adolescents and adults.
  • Biological threat response – a natural reaction if:
    • Proportional to context
    • Time-limited
  • Can become disruptive to life
    • Irrational and/or out of proportion
    • Situational avoidance
    • Numbing/distraction (emotional avoidance)
    • Panic attacks
  • Often linked to depression
    • Feeling hopeless/overwhelmed
    • Feeling numb/empty
  • Some possible signs of anxiety: 
    • Biological: Shortness of breath, digestive upset, tight muscles, headaches, heart racing, sleeplessness, hot or cold
    • Psychological: Rumination, compulsive behaviors or thoughts, worry, phobias, avoidance of emotions/situations, intrusive memories
    • Social: Withdrawal, inflexibility/control, people-pleasing
    • Spiritual: Perfectionism, feeling ashamed/unworthy, discomfort with lack of control in life, legalism (e.g., trying to earn God’s approval)

Coping Strategies: 

Biological – 

  • Exercise – helps raise serotonin levels in your brain, i.e. it makes you happier 
  • Limit/eliminate caffeine 
  • Limit alcohol 
  • Hydrate – plenty of water each day
  • Get plenty of rest (8 hours of sleep whenever possible)
  • Diet – eat healthy, unprocessed foods; avoid excess sugar
  • Consider natural supplements such as magnesium, theanine (green tea), and GABA 
  • Some people benefit from medication for anxiety, though it is ideally not meant to be a long term solution


Psychological –

  •  Breathing
    • Anxiety tends to create rapid breathing, not enough oxygen
    • Deep, slow breathing can calm your body, including your brain
    • Breathe with belly, not chest
    • Inhale/pause/exhale longer than inhale (count if needed)
  • Breathing exercises – Box Breathing/Mind Dump 
  • 5 to 1 Sensory Grounding exercise 
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  • Calm, Safe place exercise 
  • Gratitude practice 
  • Practicing mindfulness – internal and external awareness 
  • Become aware of automatic negative thoughts and begin to challenge those (Take your thoughts captive! 2 Cor. 10:5)
  • Journaling or other creative/expressive outlets 
  • Leave space (margin) in your schedule – do not over-commit yourself
  • Process any unresolved, past trauma with EMDR or other proven trauma therapies

Social –

  • Be in community versus isolation
  • Spend quality time with friends and loved ones
  • Reach out to someone who can help 
    • Family member or friend
    • Pastor or mentor 
    • Counselor 
    • Crisis Line (if in danger of hurting yourself) 1-800 -273-TALK
  • Give yourself a break from social media regularly – Unplug!!
  • Practice healthy communication and conflict resolution skills 

Spiritual –

  • Prayer (includes prayer journaling)
  • Meditating on Scripture
  • Examine any tendencies toward perfectionism or legalism 
  • Practice gratitude and giving grace to oneself and others
  • Have a sabbath ritual – It’s ok to rest! 

Cycle of Anxiety video: