Anxiety about the future (A guide)
Anxiety about the future is a common feeling experienced by many individuals.
Anxiety is the feeling of irritability, extreme fear and doubt.
It’s a common response of our body to the stressful event.
In this article we will discuss anxiety about the future.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) has listed the following anxiety disorders.
Phobia is the extreme or severe fear or distress of places, persons or objects.
There are three types of phobias: Social phobia, Specific phobia and Agoraphobia.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
It is less intense than other anxiety disorders.
The person usually feels worry or fear in daily life activities.
It is a consistent fear about some objects, events, people or places.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
This disorder includes consistent or repeated thoughts and recurring behaviors.
There are many forms of OCD such as a person constantly washes his hands because he thinks that his hands are dirty, a person checks doors or locks again and again because his thoughts compel him to do that.
- Post traumatic Stress Disorder
A person experiences PTSD after a shocking or traumatic incident.
The traumatic incidents include death of a loved one, earth disasters, physical abuse etc.
- Acute Stress Disorder
In this disorder a person develops anxiety symptoms after some traumatic experience but these symptoms reduce or vanish after a month.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder
In this disorder a person fears or worries about separation from anyone he has strong emotional attachment to.
- Illness Anxiety Disorder
This disorder is characterized by exaggerating the symptoms of a disease or worrying about getting sick.
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
The symptoms of anxiety include:
- Excessive fear or worry
- Fast heart rate
- Muscle constriction
Causes of Anxiety Disorder
The factors that cause anxiety disorders are described below:
Biological factors: A person who has a family history of anxiety disorders is at more risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
Environmental Factors: The stressful situations make a person anxious all the time.
Physical Factors: The diseases such as high blood pressure, heart problems or thyroid problems lead to anxiety disorders.
Drug addiction: Drug addiction, alcohol or any type of substance abuse cause anxiety disorders.
Anxiety about the future
Fears, doubts and worries are a part of our lives.
In everyday activities it has become a normal practice to worry about upcoming exams, presentations, impending ceremonies or events, to go on a trip etc.
When worries and fears become intensive or exaggerated then they are difficult to control, interfere in daily life and unable to get rid of them.
Continuous anxiety or fear makes a person stressful all the time.
In Psychology, a term Anticipatory anxiety has been used for anxiety about future events.
Anticipatory anxiety is defined as an anxiety people face when they foresee about the future. For example, people with this type of anxiety might also suffer from range anxiety.
People with panic disorder usually have anxiety about the future.
For example they think about the situation in which they would have a panic attack that would make them embarrass or result in extreme distress.
Reasons of having Anxiety about the future
When a child is born, he doesn’t know about his future but when he grow up people start expecting him to plan his career or what he is going to do in the future.
These expectations make a person feel pressured, feared or anxious and in turn this anxiety about the future results in making mistakes and the person gets terrified to do something wrong.
Some evidence has suggested that anxiety about the future comes from the underlying thoughts or beliefs a person holds.
These thoughts or beliefs that result in anxiety about the future can both be positive and negative.
Positive beliefs: A person believes that his or her anxiety about the future will help in avoiding troubles, preventing harmful things to happen, controlling everything, preparing for the bad news and finding a solution for the problems.
People keep on convincing themselves that they are fulfilling their responsibility and their anxiety will ultimately result in positive outcomes.
It’s difficult to have control on the anxiety about the future if a person believes that his or her anxiety is for positive purposes.
Negative beliefs: A person believes that his or her anxiety about the future is harmful and problematic for physical and psychological health.
A person believes that this constant anxiety will take over his mind and he/she will never be able to stop it.
So these negative beliefs about the anxiety about the future will add more anxiety in life and the person keeps on worrying.
Effects of having Anxiety about the future
The constant or continuous anxiety about the future negatively and positively affects our lives.
These are described below.
- Anxiety affects our ability to eat and sleep properly.
- It affects the concentration or attention on routine work.
- The person gets so overwhelmed by the anxiety that he starts avoiding situations or places that would make him feel embarrassed.
- A person feels irritability, restlessness and gradually he loses control over his mind.
- It affects the physical health i.e. headaches, muscles constriction, stomach issues etc.
- The psychological health also gets affected in ways that a person stays in constant fear about the future, and starts avoiding places or situations in which people would ask him about the career or future plans. This constant stress and anxiety can cause generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder etc.
- A person prepares himself to tackle all the issues coming in his way.
- It helps to discover appropriate solutions for the problems.
- It helps to prepare the mind to accept bad or good things that will happen in future.
Coping Strategies to reduce Anxiety about the future
Coping strategies are the useful techniques that help to reduce anxiety or stress and have control on the problems.
In everyday life we can try to make us feel relaxed by talking to a friend, sharing our thoughts with family members, reading a book or novel, writing a diary, making goals etc.
There is also a variety of coping techniques that can be used to reduce or manage anxiety about the future.
These strategies are explained below:
- Relaxation therapy:
The relaxation exercises are effective tools in decreasing stress and anxiety. Deep breathing technique helps to reduce anxiety symptoms such as irritability, confusion, nervousness etc.
It makes the body parts and muscles feel relaxed by inhaling fresh air.
So by practicing deep breathing, muscle relaxation and other relaxation techniques the anxiety about the future can be managed.
This coping technique helps to focus on the present situation, moments, what’s happening now and present life events instead of thinking about the past and future.
The mindfulness ability can be acquired by doing meditation, morning walk, yoga and other exercises.
It encourages positive thoughts and motivates life in a positive direction.
Studies have suggested that exercising meditation on a regular basis boosts the activity of mind.
The more a person meditates the more he becomes able to control the anxiety.
- Healthy diet:
Eating healthy food helps the body and mind to think positively about life and the world.
Try to eat fresh fruits and raw vegetables. Avoid excessive binge eating, fast food and sweets.
Numerous studies have suggested that excess of sugar level leads to depression, stress and anxiety.
Coffee and tea also increase anxiety symptoms because they have caffeine in them and caffeine is the cause of anxiety.
- Spirituality or religious coping:
A person belonging to any religious group should have strong faith in his creator or God.
He must have a strong connection or bond with his God.
If a person performs regular prayers, reads holy books, goes to Church or Mosque and performs all the religious obligations, then he feels himself relaxed, happy, motivated, optimistic etc.
If a person believes that his destiny or future is in the hands of his God then it helps in dealing with anxiety about the future.
Since a lot of people turn to spirituality to cope with their struggles, here are the best spiritual books you can try for anxiety.
- Analyze the thoughts:
Whenever the negative thoughts come to mind try to consciously and immediately interrupt them and intentionally focus on the other positive things which are happening or you can do.
- Distinguish between solvable and unsolvable anxiety:
This technique has been found to be most effective in reducing anxiety about the future.
We become stressed or anxious because we are unsure or uncertain about what is going to happen in our future and think we don’t have control on it.
By writing down the possible risks or the worries that comes to our mind helps in focusing on the appropriate solutions and making plans.
A person must differentiate or distinguish between the solvable and unsolvable issues.
Some issues or problems can be solved by doing proper planning.
For example a student can prepare himself for the upcoming exams by fixing specific hours in a day for studies.
Some future incidents which are unplanned and for whom we are not ready and unsolvable.
So accept and make yourself ready for the unpleasant or worse things that will happen in the future.
If the constant or continuous anxiety becomes uncontrollable then a person must consult a psychiatrist or psychologist.
Psychologists help and treat a person by providing counseling and different psychotherapies.
The generally used psychotherapy for anxiety patients is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
It helps to identify and manage destructing behaviors and irrational beliefs.
Medications also help in reducing anxiety. The psychiatrists recommend medicines which decrease the anxiety level.
The most commonly used drugs are the Benzodiazepines which relieve the symptoms of anxiety.
The anxiety about the future results from the beliefs we hold. It mostly affects physical and psychological health in negative ways.
There is a need to accept what’s happening and will happen in the future.
Just thinking about the bad or worse situations will only make us feel anxious all the time and it will keep us away from a happy and satisfied life.
The only thing we can do to have control on our anxiety about the future is to use coping strategies so that we can remain calm and enjoy our lives.
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FAQs about the anxiety about the future
Is anxiety all in your head?
Yes, anxiety comes from the beliefs and thoughts in our mind. Sometimes it gets so worse or intense that it severely affects our physical health.
The anxiety disorders are treated by using cognitive behavioral therapy.
How do I stop worrying about the future?
By using multiple types of coping strategies a person can stop himself getting anxiety about the future.
These coping strategies are relaxation techniques, religious coping, psychotherapies etc.
What causes severe anxiety?
There are a lot of sources or factors which cause anxiety.
These factors include conflicts in family, job stress, exam anxiety, upcoming events, financial crisis, upcoming job interview etc.
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