Do you ever lie awake at night worrying about things that haven’t happened yet? Do anxieties about the future affect your mood or reduce your productivity? If the answer to these questions is “Yes”, you are far from alone! Everyone worries, especially about people and events that are important to us.
The problem with worrying about the future is that it wastes so much of your time and energy. When you’re suffering from anxiety, it’s tough to get past it and enjoy the present. It’s a vicious loop: the times when we feel drained of energy are often the moments when we become more anxious, leaving us susceptible to even more worries. Worrying doesn’t achieve anything. On the contrary, it leaves us more fearful of things that might never happen.
On a logical level, we know we can’t control events in the future, yet we still do it. The good news is that we can learn to control our anxiety. Read on to discover our tips on how to stop being afraid of the future.
When you find yourself feeling fearful of the future, try some of these tried and tested techniques:
A very effective way to replace worries and negative thoughts with positive emotions is to count your blessings. Just list all the things that you appreciate and value. Your brain cannot simultaneously process both positive and negative thoughts. By thinking about everything you’re grateful for, you leave no space for fear and anxiety.
Next time you’re worrying about the future, pay attention to your breathing. Taking some slow, deep breaths relaxes your body and mind. Yoga breathing techniques are helpful: gently press on one side of your nose to close that nostril, then breathe in through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of four, then slowly breathe out. Repeat, alternately closing the other nostril.
When you’re worrying what the future might hold, nothing brings you back to the present as quickly as mindfulness. Look around you and become aware of your surroundings. What can you hear? See? Smell? When you’re fully in the present, worries about the future melt away.
While the world is undergoing a period of considerable uncertainty, it’s natural to be worried about the future. But if you’re stuck in an endless cycle of negative thoughts and worries, Bach flower essences can rebalance your emotions and restore your ability to cope with life’s challenges. Bach flower mix 85 treats anxiety, while Bach flower mix 71 helps to deal with general stress.
Many worries about the future arise from our lack of control. If you’re worried about an upcoming event, ask yourself whether there is anything you can do to resolve your fears. If there is, do it. If you can’t, there’s no point in worrying.
It’s a natural reaction to try to push things that are worrying us into the background. But rather than fretting about things which might or might not happen, try confronting them head-on. Ask yourself what would happen next, and how you would meet the challenge. Voila, you have a plan and are in control again.
Fight worry and stress with the Progressive Muscle Relaxation technique. When we’re stressed, we hold tension within our muscles. By tightening and then relaxing muscle groups around the body, you’re reminding yourself how it feels to be relaxed.
When you’re worried about something in the future, imagine how you would rate it on a 1 - 10 sliding scale of worry, with 10 being “the most worrying fear” and 1 being “nothing to be worried about”. If you rate your fear as below 5 on the scale, tell yourself it’s not severe enough to be worth wasting time and energy on. And if you measure it higher than 5, you can start to make a plan to deal with the problem.
If you find yourself worrying about the future late at night when you can’t sleep, it can be helpful to write down your fears. This action brings the problem out into the open. Once you’ve written down all your worries, throw the paper away. This simple action helps to clarify your thoughts.
"A trouble shared is a trouble halved" goes the old saying, and it often proves true. Share your fear about the future with a trusted family member or friend. They might have a different perspective on the problem that will help you to take control. Some people prefer to talk to a stranger such as a professional counsellor or therapist, who will be able to offer sound advice.
Don't let worrying eat into your time and energy. Next time you find yourself afraid of what the future holds, try one or more of these tips and break the pattern of negative thoughts and anxiety.
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