I love reading classic letters of spiritual direction. The quotation below is a piece of classic counsel for “nerves” (which, I think, would probably correspond to what we would call “anxiety” today).
“Personally I believe that the cure for nerves is an attempt at contemplation. I hope this does not sound absurd. But it seems to me that the one thing that does cure that maddening soreness of spirit that we call nerves is to sit still, in body, mind, and soul, and exclude every thought but that of God as He is in Himself. But it is foolish to say all this…. Perhaps too you have not much time to sit still bodily. I do think, however, that the remedy lies in that immense effort of cessation of effort. I wonder whether you ever take attributes of God, and set them before you, excluding everything else: saying the word-e.g. PEACE; over and over again-and then imaging it in a quiet sea, a space in air, a summer garden, and so on….” (R. Hugh Benson. Spiritual Letters of Monsignor R. Hugh Benson to One of His Converts. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1919, pp. 95-96.)
Being still like this isn’t easy, but when I am feeling fearful, anxious or just nervous, being still and remembering God in the simple way Benson suggests actually helps.