5 Ways to be Rejuvenated & Realigned When Anxiety Takes You Off Course

Ever find yourself fully aware that somehow you took a detour from your course of life but unaware how to 1) get back on track AND 2) ensure you don't navigate to the same detour again? Have you recently, like me, taken on so many pressures that anxiety crept in and debilitated you? These are 5 Ways to be Rejuvenated & Realigned When Anxiety Takes You Off Course that I've had to learn during my six week sabbatical from my doctorate.

1. Set aside time on your calendar for intentional rest. 
And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good (Genesis 1:31a, ESV)
I love that back in Genesis when the creation of the world is described,  God rested on the 7th day. Not because He was tired or overwhelmed, but because He had finished His intended work. He established a precedent of starting and stopping work, unlike so many of us that are going, going, going. God looked at His work and reflected; He saw that it was good. Why is intentional time of rest needed? Because it forces us to stop, reflect on, and assess our work.

Recently, I dropped a class which gave me 6 weeks of NOT rushing home to study all night 3x a week. I found a gym accountability partner and started going to the gym 2-3x a week to refocus on my health (stress and such has resulted in a 15 pound weight gain this year). I took entire weekends to stay home instead of hanging out with others, instead, reading, listening to podcasts, etc.. All of these things gave me time to stop to reflect on the work I had done in the previous months and have more clarity on how I became so overwhelmed and exhausted. Now that I'm back in school and soon resuming work, I know I'll need to continue setting aside time for rest and reflection moving ahead.

2. Purposefully and actively change your thinking.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2, ESV)

Ephesians 4:22-24 talks about "putting off and putting on," referring to salvation, but I think the phrase fits for this topic too. When you find yourself having deviated from where you were once headed i.e. in career, personal life, fitness journey, marriage, singlehood, etc. you want to get rid of the habits that took you off course but also add habits to KEEP you on courseThis transforming and renewing of your mind comes from meditating, or thinking, on new things. Many times, when we're anxious, we've allowed false thoughts to creep in as distractions, and believing those lies have transferred to the actions we're doing.

In addition to my regular bible study, I'm using this book as a daily devotional. I strongly recommend it to EVERYONE- "FIND REST: A Women's Devotional for Lasting Peace in a Busy Life." Its daily posts include bible verses and personal stories that are categorized in these elements of finding rest:

  • Build Only on Rock
  • Live According to Your Design
  • Set Aside Superwoman
  • Connect with God
  • Shift Your Perspective
  • Create Life-Giving Relationships
  • Walk in Obedience
  • Have No Fear

This podcast episode from Therapy for Black Girls called Shedding Superwoman Status also shifted my mindset tremendously, specifically as a black women and some of the cultural pressures we willingly embrace that are unhealthy.

3. Create boundaries that keep you focused.
Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you (Proverbs 4:25, ESV)

More and more, I find myself taking social media fasts. While I recently have made them a monthly part of my "sabbath weekends," (one weekend each month that's on my calendar when I say NO to all social outtings) I'm learning to be led by the Holy Spirit on when I need to cut back on my screen time. The biggest benefit has been less unhealthy comparison. I never realized how much of the pressure I take on comes from seeds that are planted when I scroll through my timeline. I may realize that I've bitten off more than I could chew, but then I see Sister X doing twice as much as me on IG, so I convince myself to keep going. That's wrong. Comparison on social media can be so subtle, yet so detrimental to staying on track with what God has told us to do.

These last 6 weeks, I also took time to remember what I feel like God has so clearly told me to accomplish on this earth (there are 6 things). Constantly putting those things at the forefront of my mind helps me use discernment with saying "NO" and "YES." The other day, I came up with a great idea and got to planning it all out, then I sensed the Holy Spirit say, "Did you check if that aligns with your purpose?" What I was planning wasn't inherently wrong; it just wasn't, at the time of planning, completely aligned to my purpose. So I pulled back to give it some time, pray about it, and determine how/if it fits into what God desires for me to spend my time on. Every thing we take on that's not attached to our purpose takes away from our daily 24 hours to walk in purpose.  I've had to become okay (and am still working on it) with missing out on lunches with friends or going out on the weekends at time, and that's a shift. One of the ways I became so anxious a few months ago was because I was trying to do an already exhausting list of things God called me to PLUS be available every time my different friend groups wanted to meet up. Ask yourself: "How does saying YES to in this moment force me to say NO to something I'm destined to be doing?"

These are some of the boundaries I need to get back to.

4. Let go of your need to have everything planned out. Practice flexibility.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6, KJV).
2 weeks ago, when my friend and I headed off to Rio de Janiero, Brazil, I was nervous. Typically, when I travel, I have a well-planned itinerary with every minute laid out. Leading up to the trip, I sensed the Holy Spirit say, "Have no plans." It was unsettling, but I went with it. On our first flight, to Panama, I realized why. We would miss our connecting flight and end up having to stay in Panama for 24 hours unexpectedly.

Here's what the Lord taught me... When we have everything in our lives already planned out way in advance, we get taken by surprise when things don't go our ways. When we forego rigidity of our plans, we give God space to do "exceeding and abundantly above all we could ask or think." When we realized we would have to stay in Panama overnight, I started looking up hotels. I found a Holiday Inn about 30 minutes from the city and started thinking how we would afford transportation and lodging in this unexpected place. Then I stopped and said, "God, this didn't catch you by surprise, so you already have it figured out." We ended up getting all our accommodations in Panama paid for by the airline  (and they were much nicer than the Holiday Inn + all of our meals and transportation were included), and we got to explore a country we never intended to even visit #bonuspassportstamp

Had we already had plans in Brazil, we would've lost money from having to miss the plans AND I would've been worried and angry for the delay. Since we had no plans, I could sit back and just enjoy the surprises. Listen- I am KNOWN for being INCREDIBLY planned out, so trust me when I say, there's a place for your organization, BUT there's something so peaceful about surrendering your will to let God navigate. Be obedient to what or where He calls you, but leave the rest to Him. God just needed us on the plane headed towards the destination to gift us with an unexpected, enjoyable detour trip.

5. Enlist accountability.
Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed (Proverbs 15:22, ESV).
Old habits die INCREDIBLY hard. If you're a perfectionist, workaholic, and/or always need to know the plan ahead of time, it's going to be hard to overcome that. YOU NEED HELP TO STAY
ACCOUNTABLE. You know why I blogged about Why I Had to Take a Break from my Doctorate? Accountability. I can make a commitment to myself and tell no one, and forget it. If I tell others, they check on me. My family and friends are all aware of the shifts I'm making and I often say, "Hey, I struggle with being disciplined with ___________. Check on me each day this week." You need that. If people in your life can't hold you accountable and keep you encouraged to make changes in your life, what is their role in your life?

How are you staying on track despite life's attempts to get you off course?

Staying on Track,

Dear God, Thank You for being You. Thank You for how you can take overwhelming and rock-bottom situations and use them to build us up. I pray for each and every reader who needs to be encouraged in life. Maybe, like me, they've been guilty of biting off more than they can chew. Give them the strength to step back and re-assess if they're still on track for destiny. If they aren't, I pray my journey can be an encouragement to get back on track. Help us all to be steadfast to Your plan and goals for our lives. You created us with such purpose and intentionality. Help us not lose sight of it. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Restore to Me- Joann Rosario
Help- Erica Campbell feat. Lecrae