Article by Carnetha Wilson, Living Well Counseling graduate student.
“Take one day at a time” is an idiom that is commonly easy to dish out when giving advice but hard to live by. What does it mean to take one day at a time? Taking things one day at a time can usually mean dealing with each day’s problems one at a time or when they come, instead of stressing or worrying about the future. Matthew 6:34 (ESV) says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” This verse is simply saying that every day has enough troubles of its own and there is no need to further stress by anticipating the future troubles to come.
We can find ourselves anxious about daily tasks, work, school and even family. This anxiety can become overbearing. What would it look like for us to wake up excited for these things instead of worried? One day I found myself nervous and anxious to check the mailbox that afternoon. The thoughts in my head were, “My grandmother was right, there are always bills in this adult world.” This task seems so small, but it began to discourage me even as I made my way to work. I thought, “I work a lot and it seems like my money is always going towards bills. Why is adulting so expensive?” These thoughts began to spiral into a ball of anxiety that led me to worry and even procrastinate about checking the mailbox.
Here are some helpful tips that I have learned to help take things one day at a time:
- Take my thoughts captive.
- 2 Corinthians 10:5 “…take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” This is choosing what you will allow to take root in your mind. Thought spirals are very common when becoming anxious about a situation. What does it look like to stop these thoughts and compare them to what is true and proved? Instead of thinking, “I’m so tired of bills”, let’s try, “Thank God I have a stable job and that I’m able to pay my bills.”
- List out what I can control and what I can’t control.
- Listing out what I can control in a situation and what I can’t control in a situation has helped me to persevere through different daily problems or failures. Learning to accept what we cannot control will help us to stop being anxious about nonexistent problems or circumstances and only handle the ones we can within the day. Time will continue to pass, and we can’t control that. However, we can control what we will do with our time and how to make the best of it to help ourselves and others.
- Keep trying and show some grace.
- We are human and there is a lot outside of our control. All we have to do is try our best every day. Every day there will be simple accidents or misfortunes of life, but we can choose how to handle these situations and trust that God still has our best interest in life. We can rely on the facts of what is within our control and do our best to regulate and persevere through each day.
- If necessary, seek professional counseling.
- Sometimes you may even need help learning to take things one at a time if circumstances tend to always be stressful and overbearing. Feel free to contact Living Well Professional Counseling.