How to Stop Worrying

February 15th, 2021 by Sara Buffington

A life free from worry.  To some of us, it sounds like Shangri-La: wonderful and impossible to find.  But we aren’t doomed to be worry's prisoner.  Read on if you would like to know “How do I stop worrying?”

How to stop worrying

I am no stranger to this topic.  Over the course of my life I have chewed my nails to stubs, bitten the skin around my nails, pulled out my eyelashes, and stress-eaten cheese, chocolate, and jellybeans.  

I have stayed awake countless nights, playing out different horrible scenarios.  I have had panic attacks and crying jags.  It’s not pretty to admit, but I have let worry take over my life.

If someone had said to me in a time of intense worry, “I know the secret of how to stop worrying,” I would have laughed (bitterly) in his face.  

What Does ‘Worry’ Mean?

Synonyms for worry are “anxiety” and “unease.”  But they don’t really sum it up.  Worry is a bit like the wind.  You have a hard time giving a description of it, but you know it when you feel it.   

How to stop worrying-1

When you worry, your mind dwells on difficulties or troubles.  It can even manufacture scenarios to worry about--a hundred million “what ifs.” 

Worry often feels beyond our control, as though we are stuck in its grip rather than the other way around.  

What Does God Say About Worry?

If you have never worried in your life, well, I hate to break this to you, but you aren’t human.  Some of us worry more than others, but we all do it.  

And that is why the Bible is not silent on the subject of worry.  In fact, it is chock full of words about worry and its opposite--peace.

What does the Bible say about worry?  Here are some Bible verses about peace and worry.

This one is in the Book of Common Prayer.  It is called “The Comfortable Words.”  I like that name--words that give you comfort, or even more, words that make you comfortable, like snuggling in a warm blanket with a cup of tea.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in hear

This next verse is one I say every night with my child who suffers from nighttime anxiety.  We like to think the part that says, “I do not give as the world gives” means there are no take-backs with God’s peace.  And he gives without any expectation that you will give him something in return.  Peace is a gift, pure and simple.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” -John

I say this next one to myself when I start to worry about the future--college savings, retirement, or even short term needs that seem beyond us.  It is a reminder that a) God loves me enough to provide for me b) Worry is not making the situation any better.  It is just stealing my focus and my joy.

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 life not more than food, a

This last one is helpful to repeat to yourself.  (Although, truth be told, I don’t like it when others tell it to me.  It feel like I am being scolded, and I am already knee-deep in negative emotions.)  I repeat it to myself because it offers me a way OUT of worry.  It offers this task-oriented, type-A planner something to DO.  

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 G

How Do I Stop Worrying?

And now back to the million-dollar question: How do I stop worrying?  

Here is what I have come to based on what the Bible says: 

YOU don’t.  

God stops the worry by replacing it with his peace.

How to stop worrying-2

I know what you are thinking: “ how do I get God’s peace?”  Well, the good news is that he has an unlimited supply and he is eager to give it to you.  Here’s how:

  • Do you know God?  Have you ever talked to him?  Have you talked to him lately?  If you need help getting started with that (or getting back to that), let us know.  
  • Remember the truth about worry.  Even though worry can seem like the boogie man who dogs your life (ask me how I know this), it is a puny adversary next to the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.  Here’s the thing: light always breaks through darkness.  When this doesn’t feel true because you are in a worry hole, go to the Book of Evidence (that’s what I am calling the Bible). 

    Want more verses on worry in the Bible?  Check out Psalm 23:4, Proverbs 3:5-6, Jeremiah 17:7-8, and Isaiah 41:10 to name a few.
  • Take a breath (really) and be mindful.  Worry makes you live in a future of multiverses.  God’s peace comes in the present moment.  He quiets the “What ifs?” of worry.  Take a breath, be aware of your surroundings, and give God a minute to come into your heart and mind.
  • Take care of yourself.  What? You thought these were going to be all spiritual?  Worry is magnified when we are stretched thin.  Prioritize sleep, take walks in the sunshine, eat nourishing food, drink plenty of water, and connect with others.  

Ditching Worry Is Not One and Done

If you struggle with worry, know that you are not alone.  Well-meaning people will tell you to “just stop worrying already.”  But you know that worry creeps in.  It just does.

I don’t expect my life to be free from worry the same way I don’t expect to be free from thirst.  If I don’t drink water, I get thirsty.  If I don’t call out for God’s peace, I worry.  

The good news is that God’s peace is inexhaustible and always available.  When worry creeps up, take a walk, take a breath, meditate on a Bible verse, talk to God.  Ask him for yet another daily (or hourly) dose of his peace.

God’s peace is inexhaustible and always available.

In some ways, I am thankful that I struggle with worry.  It has definitely forced me to talk to God and to lean on him.  It has made me open my Bible and look for answers.  It has made me humble--I am not capable of producing my own happiness and peace.  I’m just not.

But he is.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” - Psalm 344

Do you want to learn more?  Read this article on "The Opposite of Fear."

Do you want us to pray for you?  You can even be anonymous.

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About this author:

Sara Buffington

Sara Buffington

In April 2013 Sara started leading worship at New Covenant, and she considers it a joy and a privilege. She lives with her husband Peter, their three children, and Poppy the dog.

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