Anxiety Lifestyle Living Present Mindfulness

Maybe You Need a Break

Picture includes an empty pier at a calm lake.  Quote reads: "The time to relax is when you don't have time for it."  Sydney J. Harris

“Maybe you need a break,” he said as we made our way to our local coffee shop, Philz, to treat ourselves to our weekly Friday coffee.

Violent anger boiled in my belly, exploding out of me as an exasperated, “I can’t!!!” that licked at his advice with fire.

I can’t take a break! I’m making no progress as it is! If I take a break, I’ll NEVER make any forward movement!”

It had been a long week.

It had been a week filled with anxiety as I tried to tackle exasperating items on my “to-do” list. The tasks caused me great overwhelm because they were incredibly challenging for me. They included loathed “technology-related” items that caused me distress. Not my cup of tea.

Yet, I continued to show up each day with determination, intent on pushing forward, despite the frustration and anxiety I felt inside. Day after day, I busily plugged away, making little to no progress.

To say I was frustrated after an exhausting work week with little to show for was a complete understatement.

Sean and I continued on in silence as we made our way toward the coffee shop, the break in conversation allowing my blood pressure to return to a somewhat normal level so I could think clearly once again.

As I reflected on what had transpired, I was immediately regretful for my rageful outburst. I gave Sean a rightfully earned apology, for he did not deserve to be spoken to with such disrespect. Particularly since I knew he was only trying to help ease my pain and lighten my burden.

I was remorseful for my disrespectful response; however, I was incredibly thankful for the insight my outburst provided regarding the state of my internal world.

Clearly, there was an anxiety storm brewing inside. And unlike storms in nature, there is no waiting it out and allowing anxiety to pass.

Picture reads: anxiety equals a warning sign

A Break for Anxiety Breakthrough

To experience the desired calm outside of anxiety, I’ve found it’s necessary to turn inward and seek out the eye of the storm.

Anxiety is merely a symptom of other issues stirring around below the surface. It’s the result of suppressed fears, limiting beliefs, and other emotions going on inside that need attention and require space to breathe.

Anxiety is a warning sign. It’s an uncomfortable, nagging “can’t quite put my finger on the source of this angst” distress signal that reveals we’re in need of some tender loving care. Anxiety cues us in when our needs are not being met and not-so-subtly let’s us know: it’s time for some intentional silence and solitude with God.

My outburst with Sean revealed the forecast of my internal world was dark and cloudy. It revealed my need for God to help bring calm to the storm within.

Image of a girl at a lake with arms stretched toward the sky.  Image reads: "praise your way to breakthrough."

Praise Before Your Breakthrough

After grabbing our coffees and parting ways, I selected a playlist of praise favorites from my Spotify account in an attempt to quiet the anxious chatter in my mind as I made my way back home.

My weary soul consumed the calm, truth-saturated lyrics, bringing me a glimpse of peace, like a ray of sunshine breaking through the stormy clouds.

Ohhhh, how I had missed this! The praise music felt like a long, warm hug from a friend I hadn’t seen in ages.

In all my “doing” the past week, it dawned on me that I had left little to no room for praise. My busyness had caused me to forget about this powerful weapon that is always at my disposal.

When life causes us to feel surrounded by darkness, sometimes it can feel like praise is a luxury we don’t have time for.

But the thing is: praise is sometimes exactly what we need.

Praise allows light to pierce through the darkness and brighten up our insides. It strengthens us from within so we are better equipped to take on the challenges and tasks we face.

Knowing this to be true, I decided to take a “break” for praise. I allowed joy-filled songs consume my inner-being, choosing to praise before my anxiety breakthrough.

  • I sang to God of my trust, despite my doubts.
  • I entrusted my future to Him, knowing that I had no reason to fear, since He is with me always and has already walked the path before me.
  • I acknowledged my faith that He will accomplish whatever He has planned for me and through me. No matter how inadequate I feel.
Image of hands folded in prayer.  Message reads: "Pray your way to peace."

Pray Your Way to Peace

The praise overflowing from my heart drove me straight into the arms of my Father.

Praise has a way of doing that: it leads us out of our muddled muck of emotions so we can find our way back to truth and acknowledge our need for God.

I closed my eyes and broke into prayer, envisioning God holding me close as I offered Him my prayers.

His loving arms surrounded me and I allowed His peaceful voice to soothe my fears. He was unrushed and patient; and His calm demeanor was contagious.

I felt the weight of my anxiety lift as He assured me all of the “pressing” items awaiting me in the day could wait. He lovingly explained this was exactly where I needed to be.

He extended his hand and invited me to join him for a quiet, relaxed walk. I grasped His hand, His touch warming my heart and burning up the doubts and fears that had been plaguing my soul.

As we walked, I poured out my heart to God. I presented my fears, my frustrations, my doubts, my insecurities, my overwhelm.

I told Him about how I felt like I was all passion without potential. I explained how I longed to step into the calling He had for me, but I felt overwhelmed by inadequacy and I was struggling to understand what His plans for me entailed.

I told him about how I felt incredibly under-qualified. How I felt like He had the wrong girl for the job. How I felt like I was completely incapable of accomplishing the tasks that were likely ahead of me on this journey.

God’s Light Breaks Through the Clouds

Picture of the ocean, the sun over head, its light breaking through the clouds.

I continued to pour out my heart to God in prayer.

And as I did, His presence silenced all the deceitful noise that had been screaming in my mind and consumed the dark clouds of anxiety that had been swirling within.

As I spent time in His presence, God exchanged my fears for His peace, distressing lies for His truth.

He reminded me:

  • It wasn’t all up to me: He’s got this. He knows what I’m up against and knows what’s up ahead of me.
  • He’s knows my strengths, and is more than aware of my weaknesses. He knows the plans He has for me in the days ahead, and will continue to provide me with whatever’s required to complete that assignment.
  • He doesn’t need me to plan, scheme, or come up with any solutions. He doesn’t need me to worry about what may come up or concern myself over how I’m going to handle whatever it is that lies ahead.
  • He’s not asking me to accomplish anything out of my own power or my own strength. It is through HIS power and HIS strength that will grant me success in the future.

God lovingly reassured me that all He needs from me is 1) my TRUST in Him to work out His plans in His good timing and 2) my WILLINGNESS TO OBEY when He says, “move, Child.”

As God reminded me of these truths, I could feel the burden of responsibility I had been carrying lift from my shoulders. My previously crushed spirit felt restored.

My prayers of defeat and fear transformed into praise as His love-light burst through my anxiety storm.

As I closed my time of prayer, I was left with His peace. God’s loving presence had faithfully returned my internal world back to calm once again.

Overwhelmed and Anxious? Take a Break, Friend!

Image of a cappuccino with a heart crafted into the foam. Picture reads: "Permission to take a break."

There are times when life feels overwhelming. The bazillion tasks on our never-ending to-do lists can stifle our joy and life’s busyness can rob us of peace.

When life becomes hectic, it can be quite tempting to jump into high-gear and try to get ahead of the craze.

However, sometimes?

Well, sometimes (or perhaps, oftentimes) what we truly need in those moments is not to continue pushing forward. But rather, to slow down and intentionally take a break with God.

If left unattended, anxiety will continue to stir within us, build strength, and cloud our days.

Despite our desire to try to outrun anxiety, the better solution is to seek out the eye of storm.

It’s important to listen to our emotions and hear what they’re trying to telling us. Such as, “hey, slow down…we can’t keep up with your mind’s ambitions and your over-commitments!”

So Friend, despite how busy or crazed your schedule, I encourage you to push pause the next time you feel that crushing weight of overwhelm or your mind feels clouded with anxiety.

Choose to take that break.

Break for praise.

Break for prayer.

Allow God’s presence to break through that anxiety storm and restore you back to peace.

I think you’ll not only find the calm after the storm that you so desperately desire. But also, I trust you’ll find the tasks awaiting you on your “to-do” list a little less overwhelming as God helps remind you: it’s not all up to you.

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