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Last Updated on December 15, 2020

How to Stop Worrying About the Future: 8 Practical Techniques

How to Stop Worrying About the Future: 8 Practical Techniques

Have you ever lost sleep worrying about something that has yet to happen? Has worrying about the future interrupted your productivity or your mood? If so, it’s time to learn how to stop worrying with some simple techniques.

Worry happens to all of us, particularly when it comes to events, people, and things that are important.

While anxieties are a normal part of life, worry is a waste of our valuable time and energy. We get into a worry cycle of considering worst case scenarios that will almost certainly never come to pass.

While we may never learn how to stop worrying about the future completely, there are ways to help us better manage that worry, so we can save ourselves some time. In this article, we’ll go over exactly how to do just that.

How Worrying Wastes Time and Energy

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” —Leo F. Buscaglia

Part of managing worry is being aware of the costs. When we create awareness, we are better able to create proactive solutions to minimize or eliminate that cost and improve our mental health through relaxation techniques.

What does worrying about the future cost you?

  • Worrying about what has yet to happen uses up valuable mental real estate and time.
  • Focusing on worry not only makes it difficult to handle your to-do list, it also blocks you from seeing those opportunities or the steps that lead to them.
  • Worrying about the future is also an energy drain leaving you susceptible to more worry. Worry is at its most powerful when your energy is low.
  • It is a present-moment joy-crusher that can lower not just your energy but also your mood.
  • Worry does not get you to a place where everything is OK. Actually, it does the opposite.
  • Worrying about the future creates a vicious cycle of more worry about the future.

8 Ideas on How to Stop Worrying

When I find myself worrying about the future, I use the following techniques to manage the worry.

1. Practice Mindfulness

Since worrying about the future pulls us into the future, nothing busts worry faster than some present moment mindfulness to get us in control of our thoughts and emotions.

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Take a look around and notice what is surrounding you. Use your five senses to describe your immediate surroundings.

Taking note of your surroundings by using your senses is a great way to pull yourself into the present moment where future-related worry cannot bother you.

Here is a simple guide on mindfulness for beginners.

2. Do Deep Breathing

Have you ever noticed your breathing when you are worrying? If not, the next time you are experiencing worrisome thoughts about a future-related event, check in with your breathing.Chronic worrying can affect our physical health if we let it extend into the long-term. Worrying causes our breathing to become shallow, and deep breathing can help us to relax, decrease anxious thoughts and get us out of worry mode.

Here are two techniques to use to engage those deep breathes and cue relaxation:

The 4, 4,and 4 technique

Give it a try right now by taking a deep breath in through your nose to a count of four. Hold it for four, and then let the breath out through your nose or mouth to a count of four. Do that four times.

Be sure to do this technique slowly so you do not hyperventilate or make yourself dizzy.

Oxytocin Breathing

It actually releases the powerful hormone oxytocin into your brain. This is the same hormone that is released when you are hugging or kissing someone you love.

Here’s how to do Oxytocin Breathing:

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Take a very deep breath so that you are filling up your belly with air. Once you feel your belly expand to the point that you can no longer take in any more air, release it slowly by letting out an audible “Haaaaaaaaaaaahhh.”

Repeat this technique a few times until you feel yourself relaxing. Worry hates deep breathing, so this is one of the quickest and the easiest techniques to use.

3. Express Extra Gratitude

As you are probably already aware, worry creates negative thoughts and feelings. Gratitude does the exact opposite.

Since your brain cannot think positive and negative thoughts at the same time, gratitude is a great technique to use when you want to learn how to stop worrying. Not to mention, it’s something you can do anywhere and any time, especially when just have a few spare minutes.

I often use gratitude when worry wakes me up in the middle of the night. When this happens, I begin listing all the things I am grateful for until I fall back to sleep. It works like a charm.

To get started, take a look around. Begin listing at least three things or more that you are grateful for. It could be the chair you are sitting in or the sleeping pet at your feet.

Before you know it, the feeling of gratitude will replace the negative feeling that worry causes.

You can get more ideas from this list of 40 simple ways to practice gratitude.

4. Lean Into “What Ifs”

It is all too common to want to shove worry aside, especially when you have a tight project deadline or a calendar full of obligations. Doing so, however, is just an invitation for the worry to stick around even longer, so it’s not an effective way to learn how to stop worrying.

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Rather than try to ignore the worry, lean into by asking yourself the following question: “What if what I’m worrying about were to actually happen?”

Once you have your answer, then ask yourself this follow-up question: “Then what would happen?” Keep asking the follow-up question until you have run out of “then what’s.”

I always find that doing this exercise takes the bite out of worry. I also walk away with a plan should what I’m worrying about actually happen.

5. Take Back Control

“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” —The Dalai Lama

What do you have control over? What can you fix? What can you do to prevent whatever you are worrying about from happening?

For many of us, worry creates a feeling of being out of control and not safe. Doing things that are within our control helps us to regain those feelings of control and safety.

6. Tighten and Release

When you are worried, do you often feel a tightness in your stomach, chest, or throat? Use that tightness to help you relax.

Tighten every muscle in your body. Tighten your legs, suck in your stomach, clench your bottom, tighten your arms, and make fists. Hold your muscles in that tight position for just a moment, and then release all your muscles.

This technique is called Progressive Muscle Relaxation[1]. It combats worry and stress by creating awareness around what the body feels like when it is in a relaxed state.

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7. Use Worry as a Gauge

Worry serves as a great gauge to let us know what is important and what is not. When you want to learn how to stop worrying, tune-in to the gauge.

How important is what you are worrying about on a scale of 1-10? If you gave it a 5 or less, ask yourself this question: “Since this thing I’m worried about isn’t very important, what is really driving the worry?”

If you gave it a 5 or higher, then it’s time to turn worry into a motivator to start taking action.

8. Write or Talk It out

Getting worry out of your head diminishes it. It is like the old analogy that if you shine a light on bacteria, it dies, but if you keep it in the dark, it grows.

If you do not feel comfortable talking your worry and emotions out with a friend, family member, coach, or another trusted professional, try writing about it. Get it all out on paper, and then throw the paper away.

Writing about your future-related worry takes the charge out of it and creates more clarity and awareness.

Final Thoughts

Worrying has nothing on you. The next time you find yourself worrying about the future:

  • Create awareness around what the worry is costing you.
  • Use one or more of the worry busting techniques.
  • Remember that you are not alone when it comes to worrying (we all do it).

By following the steps above, you’ll be able to have a more worry-free life so that you can reclaim your precious time and stay productive.

More on How to Stop Worrying

Featured photo credit: Gabrielle Henderson via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] University of Michigan: Stress Management: Doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation

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Pam Thomas

Chief Change Officer @What's Within U; Helping people dig out from the ruts that keep them stuck personally and professionally.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

We all lose our temper from time to time, and expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone. However, there are times when anger can become overwhelming or damaging, and during these times, it’s important to learn how to deal with anger.

Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and professional. You may express too much anger, too often, or at times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at anger management techniques that will help you better control your emotions.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

Expressing Anger

Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your significant other, kids, boss, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information if we are willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

Here are some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

Being Passive-Aggressive

This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. It’s not very productive but extremely common.

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Poorly-Timed

Some people get overwhelmed and express anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

Ongoing Anger

Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

Over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time; it’s a no-win situation.

Healthy Ways to Express Anger

What about the healthy ways[1] to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.

Being Honest

Express your anger or disagreement honestly. Be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond.

Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

Being Direct

Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.

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Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else, and don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

Being Timely

When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, as that’s only going to do more harm than good.

Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

How to Deal With Anger

If you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

1. Slow Down

From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response, and that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.

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When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner. Doing things that helps you learn how to release anger can make an uncomfortable situation more manageable before it gets out of hand.

2. Focus on the “I”

Remember that you are the one that’s upset. Don’t accuse people of making you upset because, in the end, it’s your response to what someone did that really triggered your anger. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “Why don’t you ever put away your dishes?” Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me—can you work with me to come to a solution?”

When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

3. Work out

When learning how to deal with anger, exercise is a great outlet. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

If you’re not sure where to start with an exercise routine, check out Lifehack’s free Simple Cardio Home Workout Plan.

4. Seek Help When Needed

There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from a mental health professional if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert about learning to control intense emotions. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable and healthy level.

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5. Practice Relaxation

We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation.

That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax, like being around people we enjoy, practicing deep breathing or listening to music. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and physical activity.

Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and release tension when learning how to deal with anger. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax when warning signs of anger start to bubble up.

6. Laugh

Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep anger in check and help you get over a bad mood and feelings of anger more quickly. This isn’t part of formal anger management techniques, but you’ll be surprised by how well it works. Remember, life is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed fully along the way through healthy emotion. Make sure you take time to laugh and have fun.Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress, which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing.

7. Be Grateful

It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for in order to help you learn how to release anger and invite in more positive feelings.

Final Thoughts

Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go or motivated. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much, and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring you joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life—the things that we seem to forget yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

More Resources on Anger Management

Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

Reference

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