3 Ways to Wage War on Worry

cancer chemo chair prayers suffering thrive Apr 15, 2021

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We fight the fear and worry in our minds and with our faith but today’s three ways to wage war on worry will help you fight fear and find the peace of mind and calm you long for with an often forgotten and underestimated way- your body.

I’m pretty sure every hospital has the same standard issue waiting room chairs. Comfy enough for hours of waiting but with an industrial strength to with stand hundreds of hours of nervous shifting and spilt coffee.

Sitting on the squeaky plastic chairs of the stark, sterile room we’d been told to wait in after my colonoscopy, I was tired and still slightly drugged and loopy.

The words “We found a tumor and it’s either cancer or lymphoma” sounded more like “We found a sandwich and it’s either ham or cheese.”

Maybe it was the colonoscopy drugs still in my system making me woozy and uncaring, maybe it was denial, maybe it was the peace of God, either way, as far as I can remember all I said was “Oh, OK.”

It wasn’t until my doctor called later that week to say the pathology results confirmed cancer – rectal cancer – that I fell apart and the fear crept in. 

Ok, so maybe it didn’t creep in, but more like swept in with the unrelenting force of a nor’easter gal in mid winter in the Yukon.

But you get the picture. I was afraid.

If you’re new around here, welcome, this month we’re diving into the fear, worry and overwhelm that comes unwanted with every cancer diagnosis – fear of the millions of unknowns.

Fears of leaving our kids behind.

Fear of the pain and treatment.

And yes, fear of dying.

We’re looking at how to fight it, conquer it, and not let it boss us around and be in the driving seat of our cancer journey so we can feel calmer, more in control, and have a peace about us that’s not depending on what the surgeon says or how rubbish we feel.

That moment in the doctor’s office wasn’t the last time I felt panic and fear take over. Of course not. I’m not immune and I know you’re not either.

No one is.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that we can’t banish fear once and for all. But we can learn to deal with it, shut it up, take its power, and see if it’s what we say in England – all mouth and no trousers – or as you say – all bark and no bite.

I know you’ve been there as I have heard from so many of you that fear, especially fear of the unknowns, is your biggest struggle when it comes to your cancer journey.

I know you want to stop thinking every headache is a brain tumor.

I know you want to face the possibility of not seeing your grandkids go off to college with more peace than panic.

I get that you want to be able to lie on the scan machine with a calmness you’ve not known before.

That’s why today we’re going to talk about 3 ways to win the war on worry.

I’ve said it before and will say it again – we can’t stop the worries coming but we can face them head on and rob them of their power to drive the cancer train we’re on.

But before we dive in I want to invite you to do two things:

  1. Make sure you listen to next week’s episode where I interview the most handsome pastor I know – Al Hardy – when we dive into fear fighting and look at what we can learn from the numerous times God says don’t be afraid in Bible. So don’t miss that.
  2. I’ll be doing a Fear Fighting Q&A episode where you can ask me anything. Maybe you’ve been listening these last couple of weeks and have been saying “yes but…” or “how do I deal with this in my situation?”

    Now is your chance to ask your questions!There are two ways to submit your questions – either submit it in writing at www.nikihardy.com/ask or leave me a quick voice message that I add add into the Q&A . You can do that at www.nikihardy.com/message.

So how do we wage war on worry? 

Because that’s what it feels like, a never ending war.

All too often we think of fear and worry as a mental battle that rages in our minds.

And we forget that anxiety, fear, overwhelm, uncertainty and panic don’t just affect our bodies and show up there physically, but can be fought there too.

So today I want to give you 3 ways to wage war on worry in your body.

Not just because they’re often overlooked but because I find them super powerful and often easier to get to grips with and put into action than some other things we’ve talked about.

But, before we do I want to encourage you not to dismiss them for their simplicity.

Their power and effectiveness lie in how simple, easy to do, and inherently linked to the way our bodies handle and hang onto fear that we’d be bonkers not to add these to our weaponry as we wage war on worry and fear.

Waging War on Worry with Our Bodies

Smiling:

First is something you may feel like you haven’t done in far too long – simply smiling.

And I know, you may not feel like got anything to smile about but I want to let you into a little known fact.

Smiling, whether fake or real, causes feel good hormones to course through our bodies.

Yup, you heard me, don’t even need to have anything to smile about. Simply smiling a big fake smile – whether you feel like it or not – one that makes the corners of your eyes crease – will release hormones, endorphins and natural pain killers. 

Smiling works to reduce stress, elevate your mood, decrease pain. It’s brilliant.

So next time you feel fear or worry start to rear it’s ugly head or get the better of you in the chemo chair, smile a big wide goofy grin. 

I promise you it works – I’ve tried it in so many different situations from doctors appointments to before I go on stage to speak.

Click here to read an article all about the benefits of smiling.

Moving:

Fear and panic have a way of paralyzing us, don’t they?

We freeze in place, get stuck in bed and can’t muster the courage to move.

We’re blinded and stare into space.

It is time to break out of that displacement activity, fight the freeze and paralysis.

Or maybe when fear gets you you don’t freeze; you get jittery.

Either way fight fear by getting moving.

Go for a walk – outside is best where you can breathe in the fresh air.

Have a 30 second dance party.

Arm wrestle your grandson.

Mow the lawn.

Vacuum the house.

I don’t really care, but moving helps shake off the jitters.

Ideally, it’s a long walk or a yoga class, not something that’s going to amp you up.

But just like smiling, exercise has positive effects on our mental health and stops us dwelling on our fears. 

Exercise diverts us, releases muscle tension and even engages the part of the brain that fights imaginary fears

When coupled to the other things we’ve talked about recently, using scripture, looking at what’s real and what’s imagined, journaling, it’s super helpful.

Click here to read more of the benefits that exercise gives you to help treat anxiety.

So – how are you going to get moving today?

Breathing:

You have heard me talk about how my go-to, fear-fighting weapon is breathing in Jesus and breathing out fear, but want to add another component.

Block breathing or square breathing 4×4 breathing. 

This is where you in hale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts and repeat.

This deep breathing (used everyone from navy seals and marines, to CEO and actresses) has been proven to reduce your heart rate and blood pressure – the two things fear shoot through the roof.

As I block breathe, I even move my hands in a square as I go up and breathe in for 4 along and hold for 4, down and exhale for four, back along as I hold for four, then repeat.

Add in visualizing a calm, peaceful scene like the mountains, lapping ocean waves or somewhere you feel calmest and happiest, AND then add inhaling Jesus and exhaling fear, and you’ve got yourself a powerful weapon in your arsenal.

Click here to read an article all about Square Breathing.

These are just three ways to wage war on worry and I’m sure you’ve got other go-to things that help you.

I’d love to hear about them!  Leave a comment and be a part of the discussion.  I would love to hear from YOU!

And remember – these are stackable!!

You can smile, move breathe, and visualize all at the same time – while reciting scripture.

In this war against worry we need the cannons firing, while the infantry and cavalry charge. 

Try different things in different combinations and see what helps the most – Do what works for you.

Above all, be sure that you don’t need to let fear and worry be the driver in your cancer journey.

Before we do what we love to do here which is pray with and for each other, want to remind you to leave your questions for our fear fighting Q&A either www.nikihardy.com/ask or leave me a quick voice message at www.nikihardy.com/message.

Let’s take a moment to pray using our simple guided prayer format that uses the acronym TRUST.

Thanking Him for who he is and what he’s done.  Resting in his love.  Unburdening our hearts.  Surrendering our hopes, fears and needs.  Taking Him at his word.

If you haven’t already, you can download your own copy of our TRUST prayer practice on a beautiful book mark below!

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If you haven’t already, download your TRUST prayer book mark HERE so you can pray along with me and pray with more confidence and less doubt in the week ahead.

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