I’ve never really paid attention to the feeling of dread, but it’s with me more often than I’d like to admit. Perhaps you, too, are familiar with this gloomy emotion that can feel like a pesky, insistent dark cloud.
This year I’m working my way through Joyce Meyer’s wonderful daily devotional, Love Out Loud. Earlier this week, her reading was about dread, a relative of fear that holds us back. “What is the point of dreading something we have to do?” Joyce wrote. Great question.
Since dread may cause us to procrastinate or experience unnecessary stress, I’ve been trying to examine when and why it shows up my own life.
Things I Dread
A situation where I don’t feel in control. It might be going to a party where I don’t know many people, or imagining worst-case scenarios when a loved one is traveling, or waiting for the results from a medical test.
An uncompleted project. Doing the taxes. Finishing the writing of an article that doesn’t feel like it’s flowing. Tackling a disorganized garage.
A future discomfort. A mammogram. A root canal. A colonoscopy.
A tough conversation. Asking for a raise. Working through a conflict. Talking about finances.
5 Ways To Overcome Dread
These are some practical strategies to chase the dark clouds away:
1. Become aware. If we recognize when we’re feeling dread and can sit quietly and face it, we may lessen its grip. Deep breathing, meditation and mindfulness exercises are all ways to become more present and examine what we’re feeling and why.
2. Pray. This verse is a good, simple prayer that always helps my brain and soul return to a calmer place: “For God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a good mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NLV)
3. Take one action. For me, facing the task and doing something is often the thing that brings relief. If the task is especially dreadful, I turn on my timer and tackle it for 10 or 15 minutes. Just getting started helps.
4. Laugh. I love the phrase “comic relief.” Laughter always helps me put things in perspective. (Dave Barry’s article about his colonoscopy is a must-read.)
5. Talk to a professional. If anxiety feels like it’s becoming excessive or turning into a daily problem, a visit to a counselor or health care provider may be in order.
How About You?
Are there things in your life that sometimes cause you to feel dread? Do you have any strategies to add to my list? I always love hearing your perspective and ideas.
You might also enjoy reading “Microburst Your Way to Success,” about how 15 minute bursts of focus can help us accomplish great things.
Here’s to less fear and more peace in the days ahead,