An Examen for Anxiety

Published on 12 May 2021

This examen is written for those who may experience anxiety, but please seek professional help or resources if you are particularly concerned about your own anxiety or that of someone else. 

1.  Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. You may keep your eyes closed, or open, if that is more comfortable for you. And breathe. Notice your breath, and try not to judge it, even if it seems erratic or uneven. Just notice and label your in-breath ‘in’ and your out-breath ‘out’. Try and deepen your breath and feel calmer as you do this for a few minutes. Imagine Jesus is beside you in your space. Is He on the sofa with you, or on the floor beside you? Is he holding your hand or can you just feel his loving, non-judgemental presence here beside you? During this beginning of your prayer time, you sense that you are safe. You know in your heart that, with the Lord being here with you, all burdens can be given to Him – “you will find rest with me” (Matthew 11:28-30).

2. Then, with Jesus beside you, look back over your day with gentle care:

  • How did you feel when you woke up? Did you feel tension? Or numbness? Or did you actually have a great start? Accept the experience and hand it over to Jesus. You can do this with words, or even with a physical gesture to feel truly lighter and less burdened.
  • Moving through the day, was there any point where you felt anxious? Did this make you feel separated from God? Or was God right there with you in the middle of the stormier times? Looking back at these feelings from a distance, try and have a heart of compassion for yourself as you let Jesus listen to your experience, knowing He loves us just as we are. Was there actually a time, even if it was a brief moment, where you felt connected, or free from your anxious thoughts? This could simply be hearing the birds sing on your commute to work, or that one smile from a stranger. Perhaps you’d like to offer this gift up to the Lord by giving thanks in your own way. You could smile at Jesus who is next to you, or squeeze Jesus’ hand, feeling secure that you are not alone.
  • With all of these images and thoughts coming to a close now as you sit here at the end of your day with Jesus, imagine there is a blanket or a rug on your floor before you. Jesus picks up both edges carefully and pulls the rug up in the air, shaking any dust from it. You watch as the dust slowly settles on the floor. Imagine all of your thoughts that have raced around in your mind today are just like this image before you. Let them settle. Let them go. Hold on to that gift from your day. Smile, and watch as Jesus smiles with you too. You take another deep breath in and out.

4. You may like to end with a personal prayer of thanksgiving, something like:

“Lord, thank you for being with me through the difficult times, the times when I have felt anxious and depleted. May I always seek your presence in order to find some tranquillity, some peace, amongst the storms. Amen.”

 Mental Health Awareness

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