How to Stop Worrying About the Future

Barely 7 days into 2021, and a protest in the U.S. capitol has turned some people’s New Year’s hopes into worries again.

For those who’ve wisely avoided watching the news, I won’t go into the details about what happened yesterday. It’s not worth discussing anymore than it already has been.

The more important thing is to help people relax their worries about the future. In life, we’re all going to have concerns about something occasionally.

But those concerns don’t have to grip us in a permanent state of fear and anxiety. We have the knowledge and tools available to us to break free.

Why do we worry about the future?

None of us knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. We can all agree with that. So, with that being the case, what’s the point of worrying about future events?

Unfortunately, when people don’t know something, that only leads them to speculate. We either choose to speculate an outcome that could be positive or negative.

For whatever reason, many of us often choose the latter rather than the former. With that tendency of thinking, perhaps at times we’d be better not speculating at all.

Whether it’s a desire to avoid disappointment, or just an outright refusal to see anything positive being a possibility, when faced with unknowns, negativity finds a way to creep into our minds.

Logically, most of us are aware that it doesn’t usually help the situation. But emotions are usually a much louder voice in our ear than logic.

It’s with that point in mind, we can understand that eliminating worry about the future has to involve soothing the emotions.

When our emotions are settled down and quieted, the voice of logic can get a chance to be heard. You can focus more on rational thoughts that can allow you to be calm in the storm.

Here are some tips you can follow to decreases your worries about the future.

Woman sitting down hand on her chin looking down black and white how to stop worrying about the future

1. Take action to build confidence in a positive outcome

When you’re concerned about something in the future, one of the best things you can do is to take action.

Figure out solutions to your concerns. Perform any tasks that you feel will give you best the chance of things going smoothly.

You have the power to do things that can potentially affect events in ways that work out for you.

Inaction will only leave you in a state of anxiety. But the more you try to take steps to alleviate your concerns, the more confident you’ll feel in a positive outcome.

2. Remember past trials to remind yourself how strong you are

It’s probably not your first time worrying about the future. My guess is, you’ve probably worried about other situations in the past.

The interesting thing to think about is that certain events you were concerned about before are no longer a concern in your life.

So, what happened? You got through that situation is what happened. And perhaps you became a stronger because of it.

With all the things that I’ve been through that have been hard for me, I’ve learned that I can handle potentially bad situations.

When you recognize that from what you’ve been through in your life, it can help ease your concerns about anything you’ll be facing in the future.

3. Get regular sleeping hours

Understandably, when you have nagging worries on your mind, going to bed earlier can be easier said than done.

You can first utilize relaxation techniques to calm yourself down in the evening. When you’re relaxed, hopefully you’ll be able to fall asleep faster.

A study conducted by Springer Science and Business Media found that repetitive negative thoughts are linked to going to bed late at night and shorter periods of sleep.

Adopting a regular sleep schedule of going to bed early and waking up early can help you be less worried in your mind.

4. Believe in a benevolent God

Researchers found that those who believe in a benevolent God worried less and tolerated life’s uncertainties more than those who believed in a punishing or indifferent God.

It’s odd that some people like to diminish those who are religious by saying they’re weak for using it as a crutch in life.

But if it’s proven to help people worry less, why is that a bad thing? Why not at least give it a try?

5.  Seek cognitive behavioral therapy

It’s something I’ve touted in other articles given my firsthand experience with it. Here’s more information about cognitive behavioral therapy.

It’s basically the idea that thoughts, feelings, actions, and physical sensations are all connected.

When you learn to respond to your concerns or problems in a positive way, which the therapy teaches you, you’re better able to worry less.

There was research that discovered older adults who received cognitive behavioral therapy managed their worry better than those who didn’t.

You can search Psychology Today to find a therapist that specializes in this form of therapy.

Some worry may be good

As much as we want to avoid it most of the time, it may not always be a bad thing to have a little bit of worry in your life.

UC Psychology Professor Kate Sweeney argues that people who report greater worry may perform better on tasks, seek more knowledge in response to stressful events, and do more successful problem solving.

She believes that it’s because worry motivates us towards preventative and protective behavior, and avoiding unpleasant events.

Examples of this in other studies include:

  • Worry about skin cancer predicting sunscreen use
  • Worries about cancer predicting frequency of mammograms
  • Moderate worry about cancer predicting whether a person chooses to get screened

Professor Sweeney further explains that worry is a cue for when situations are serious and require action.

She argues it keeps the cause of the stress at the front of our mind which prompts us to act. The unpleasant feeling of worry motivates us to find ways to reduce it.

Final thoughts on worry

Most of us never think of worry as something that’s useful, including myself prior to writing this article. But maybe the best way we manage our concerns is balancing them.

We should take what we’re concerned about seriously. But we shouldn’t always jump to the worst-case scenario happening during uncertainty, when it most cases, it doesn’t.

Doing well in taking care of ourselves can help us be best able to practice good emotional regulation. Responding with action in the face of our concerns can also alleviate our worries as well.

If you follow these two principles, you can manage worry in a way that allows you to still be able to live a happy and peaceful life.

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  1. Maria Pinto says:

    I can relate to your examples about Cancer as I am a Cancer Survivor & have met many women & men through some wonderful organizations in California, including a support group I go to online & now a stress/mindfulness group too. I was never extremely worried as the signs were there for me that I had cancer & just accepted whatever outcome there was. I was so fortunate to receive excellent care from the Medical Staff & support from family. So many others aren’t quite so lucky.

    That is not to say that I have not been afraid of the future in other instances, & in a few cases it clouded my judgement with dire outcomes. I know how well fear can grip your mind & heart like a vise to the point of suffocating. Life does teach us some hard lessons but if we can slow down what I call the monkey brain long enough to realize that quite often we do have options & choices.

    Sadly as many of us are looking forward to a better 2021 we witnessed with horror what unfolded this week. I have a few family members that unfortunately believe in many of the conspiracy theories. What I do for my own mental health & clarity on my life path is steer clear of conversations with then on religion & politics.

    What the future holds no one knows, but I am working on living more in the present, enjoying the moments that are given to me.

    1. I’m glad you had a lot of supportive people to help you during that challenging time, Maria. And it’s quite true that it’s important to do what we can to manage our own mental health in the midst of uncertainty. Each day is something to be grateful for, and to enjoy to the fullest.