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Worried About the Future? Try These Tips for Managing Your Unease

Everyone worries about the future to some extent; worry is a function of how humans naturally respond to the unknown. And nothing is more unknown than the future.


While a certain amount of worry can be productive, prompting us to prepare and plan, excessive worry can impair our ability to enjoy life and make sound decisions. Understanding this form of anxiety and learning to manage it can significantly improve one’s quality of life and mental well-being.


What it feels like to worry about the future


Worrying about the future takes as many forms as there are people. No one worries in the same exact way. But it ultimately involves feeling anxious or concerned about events that have not yet happened and may never happen. It often includes persistent thoughts or imagined scenarios about potential problems or disasters, leading to feelings of dread and unease about what lies ahead.


Worrying about what lies ahead often involves a mental process called “catastrophizing,” where the mind jumps to the worst-possible outcomes. This can lead to a vicious cycle of anxiety, where the act of worrying triggers more worry, creating a state of constant anxiety that is detached from realistic probabilities of events occurring.


Why we worry about our futures


The tendency to worry about the future can be triggered by various factors:

  • Uncertainty: Human beings have a natural desire for predictability and control over their environment. When faced with uncertainty about future events, the lack of control can lead to anxiety.
  • Personal experiences: Past experiences, especially those involving unexpected negative outcomes or resulting in trauma, can condition us to anticipate similar events in the future, no matter how hard we try to remain calm and in-the-moment.
  • Cultural and social influences: Media stories about global crises, economic downturns, or health epidemics can amplify personal anxieties about the future.
  • Personality traits: Individuals who are naturally inclined towards negativity or pessimism may be more prone to worry about future events than people with other characteristics.

Signs your fear of the future is escalating


Recognising the line between normal concern about the future and excessive worrying can help prevent a period of difficult mental health from developing into something more lasting. Here are some signs that worry might be getting out of control:

  • Constant anxiety. When you start feeling anxious, uneasy, or worried more days than not, and being unable to remember the last time you felt relaxed, it may be time to seek help.
  • Physical symptoms. When you start experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety, such as difficulty sleeping, headaches, stomach problems, or muscle tension, it may be time to seek help.
  • Impact on daily life: When worry disrupts concentration, job performance, social interactions, or daily tasks or routine experiences, it may be time to seek help.
  • Avoidance behaviour: Avoiding certain activities or decision-making out of fear of potential outcomes can be a sign that anxious feelings are getting to be too much.

7 tips to manage worry about the future


We can never calm our worries by knowing with certainty what the future holds. So taking steps to manage our fear of the upcoming unknown is the best we can do. With time and practice, these steps can help us recognise and control our worries over the future so quickly, we never completely lose our calm.


  1. Focus on what you can control: Identify aspects of your concerns that you can influence. For instance, if you are worried about job security, you might focus on enhancing your skills or updating your resume.
  2. Practice mindfulness: Engaging in mindfulness practices can help anchor you in the present moment, so the future has less hold on your thoughts. Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga can be beneficial.
  3. Limit exposure to negative triggers: Be mindful of your media consumption and the conversations you participate in, as these can sometimes fuel anxiety about the future. If you’re anxious about your work, try to excuse yourself from negative conversations about the organisation or coworkers.
  4. Prepare, don’t panic: There’s a fine line between preparation and panic. Organise and prepare for the future logically, without letting fear drive your actions. This might include setting financial savings goals or creating contingency plans in personal and professional life.
  5. Evaluate your plans. Sometimes (not always) anxiety can stem from our efforts and actions being misaligned with our values. Ask yourself: What do I value most? What ideals would I embody, if I could? For instance, if your worry over the future is focused on your finances, and financial independence is something you value, even setting a very small amount aside in savings each month may help you feel calmer. Or, if you worry over your work performance or career trajectory, consider whether you’re actually working toward what you want to be doing. If you’re not, perhaps there are ways you can start a hobby or side project focused on what you want to be doing (if shifting jobs is not an option).
  6. Talk about your worries: Sharing your concerns with someone can provide a new perspective and reduce the burden of your uncertain feelings. Sometimes, just verbalising worries can help us see them more clearly and realistically.
  7. Seek professional help: If worries about the future are overwhelming and starting to interfere with your ability to function, therapy – whether a traditional in-person session or an online self-therapy app – can offer you strategies to manage anxiety effectively.

By understanding the nature of worrying about the future, recognising your own tendencies and patterns, and employing strategies to manage them, you can reduce how much you think about the future. While it’s normal to worry about what lies ahead, it shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying the present and moving forward with purpose.




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Vidula V Sawant (M.A., M.Phil., CRR No. A80980) is a clinical psychologist with 5+ years of experience and a passion for understanding the complexities of our minds and behaviours.

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