Our home is tucked under a graceful canopy of live oak trees, which keeps the house cool and shady during blazing Florida summers. I absolutely love those trees. Except in springtime. When the oak pollen appears, every flat surface turns a sickly shade of green. My eyes itch and I battle massive headaches, fluish, achy joints and the persistent feeling that I’m one throat tickle from getting sick. I join the stampede to the drugstore antihistamine aisle and hope it rains–soon–to wash the pollen away.

Lately, though, I’ve noticed another ailment that seems to sneak in much the way oak pollen does: free-floating anxiety. One day everything is fine and the next, you’re up at night with massive headaches, a queasy, fluish feeling and a general sense that everything is sort of green in your world. I’ve talked with many people lately, all suffering the same symptoms. “I can’t put my finger on it, but I’m worried and nervous and anxious about, well…everything.”

Sound familiar? You are not alone. Anxiety hits everyone at one time or another. Like oak pollen, it usually doesn’t attack forever, but I’ve found a great way to combat it.

The Anxiety Rx: Make Two Lists.

Title one list, “Things I control.”

Call the other one, “Things I don’t control.”

Now, take a few minutes and think about what’s causing that pinched, queasy feeling in your gut. Take the first thing that pops into your head and decide which list it belongs on. Keep going until all the things worrying, nagging and giving you a headache are on one list or the other.

When you read over the list, I think you’ll be surprised how many worries are on the “Things I don’t control” list.

Next comes the hard part: let go of those things you don’t control. Decide–consciously and deliberately–that you aren’t going to worry about them any longer, since you have no say about the outcome. I take this list and mentally slip it into God’s inbox. Then, equally deliberately, I (try to) pry my fingers off the list.

My job is to deal with the things I do control: like how I treat my family, how many words I write a day, how many projects I send out, how I spend my time and money.

The other list? Not mine to stress over. Learning to let it go brings freedom and the ability to breathe deeply. Give it a try…and let me know how it goes.

Meanwhile, I’ll be outside under the live oaks, writing.

PS — My wonderful editor at Abingdon Press, Ramona Richards, wrote an article about my journey to publication. Would you take a minute to check it out? http://www.christianfictiononlinemagazine.com/buzz_track.html