Anxiety About The Future

A Global Pandemic that doesn’t seem to be going away, mandated vaccine roll out to the masses, racial tension, civil unrest, wars, nuclear weapon testing, climate emergencies and severe adverse weather conditions being suffered by various countries….. Yes, there is a lot going on in the world right now. One cannot deny that. Event after event, crisis after crisis, each one more terrifying than the last one.

Such events certainly invite worry, but the truth is there has always been a lot going on in the world, so our generation is actually not unique. However, I feel that the difference nowadays is that with social media, we are constantly being bombarded with current events happening around the world. At times, we have not even finished wrapping our heads around the previous current event before a new one springs up. So it is no wonder people feel so choked with worry and fear.

The thing is, every generation thinks that theirs will be the last and every generation feels that they need to save the world from impending doom. 

This blog aims to provide tips on how to escape those feelings of despair and help you gain back control of your inner peace when turmoil and chaos seem to be the new norm in our world. 

Michel de Montaigne once said: “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”

As humans, we have a tendency to worry way too much. And did you know that 85% of what we worry about never, ever happens. It just never materialises, and out of the 15% that does happen, it has been said that we are actually able to handle the situation. In short, we are wasting a lot of time, mental resources, and energy with worry, anxiety, and fear.

I want you to imagine something, close your eyes if you wish. Imagine that you are looking at a thick, dense fog. The kind of fog that you cannot see through, and where visibility is impaired significantly. How much water do you think it takes to create that great blanket of fog?

I’ll save you from trying to make complex mathematical calculations, the answer is, a few ounces of water. Yes, a few ounces, less than a bottle of water. So that great fog, so dense you could touch it, cannot even fill a bottle of water once squeezed down and condensed. This is how worry is, it appears to be so huge, and so overpowering that it is even able to block our vision and leave us feeling disorientated if we are caught in it. However when you break it down to its smallest components, you will find that it is actually so containable.

I understand that things seem crazy now, but this is the nature and pattern of human existence. Things are always crazy. As the proverb goes, “there is nothing new under the sun” and “what has been will be again.” Stop being afraid that the world will end tomorrow, it won’t. And even if it does, worrying will not change that fact, will it?

Smile, life is so beautiful, full of learning and full of adventure, it really is! But because we live in such a digitalised world, we lose sight of this. So, here are three tips to help you reconfigure your mind to focus on what really matters – which is your inner peace and emotional stability. Anything that disturbs that balance must go.

Tip one – Stop Doom scrolling on Social media

Stop doom scrolling. Literally just stop! Doom scrolling is the catalyst for anxiety. As human beings, we are more afraid of what we don’t know than what we do know. Here is an example to illustrate further, imagine that someone has a terminal illness, and the Doctor tells them when they should expect to die, i.e. they have 6 months left to live. Now imagine another person who also has a terminal illness, but the Doctor does not inform or advise them on how long they have left to live.

Who do you believe will be more anxious? Of course the latter. You see, though in the first example, the person will still have feelings of anxiety because you know, people do not want to die, yet the added knowledge of knowing the approximate time of death leaves him with an element of control. They can prepare for it; they can prioritise tasks and activities that could be done within the timeframe given and they can communicate the information to loved ones. In short, this feeling of added control relinquishes feelings of helplessness and uncertainty, which gives way to the emotional stability they need to deal with the devastating situation.

Now let us explore the second example. They are not given an approximate time of death. Not knowing is the worst feeling for humans. The person wakes up every morning thinking, “Will I go today?” Such a thought paralyses a person as they don’t know what to do first, they don’t know what tasks to prioritise. They don’t know if they will have time to travel to another city to reconcile with a loved one or if they should use the time to fulfil a lifelong dream instead. Uncertainty brings doubt, and doubt brings discomfort and an unsettled, restless mind.

So, doom scrolling on social media happens when we are afraid that we don’t know something, so we constantly swipe and swipe to see if there is something that we may have missed, to see if there is something that someone else knows that we don’t. 

It is a survival mechanism. A piece of information that we don’t know can leave us susceptible to danger, to harm. So, we as humans, always have the urge to know. This is made worse because new information is disseminated rapidly, there is always some official announcement or new policy being announced on social media platforms – even though social media was initially for socialising with friends, and not to act as a channel for political communication. It is no wonder why anxiety levels about the future are high.

Tip two – Physically Disconnect

Without sounding redundant, go outside, without your phone. Go to a restaurant, without your phone. Take a long trip, without your phone. Many of us are addicted to our phones without knowing it. And it makes sense. Technology companies have literally redesigned our world in such a way that one cannot survive (easily) without their phone, in the western world anyway. It just connects us to so much convenience, entertainment, and security (imagine being stuck in the middle of nowhere without being able to get in touch with friends or the authorities). 

I understand how useful a phone is, but it is not vital to our existence on this planet, of course it isn’t, that is why we have been able to do just fine for thousands and thousands of years without it.

You know, back in the day, people came to find out about events sometimes long after it happened, because they relied on messengers and story tellers to relay information to them. This meant that they could focus on their immediate world and their immediate surroundings. Nowadays, before you finish digesting one bit of information, you are already being bombarded with a new one. How can your brain cope? Also, it is not like the information is just being told for information’s sake, but it is always told in a way that somehow demands some kind of action from you. If a story comes up in relation to Climate crisis for example and about flooding in a particular country, it is almost told in a way to make you feel some kind of responsibility, to bear the guilt. The rhetoric makes you start thinking of all the ways you or your actions could have contributed to such a disaster. 

This is not to say that one should be ignorant or blasé about world issues, but we cannot sacrifice our mental health and fall into a pool of despair over things we cannot control.

On that note, it is not your responsibility to save the world. It is not my responsibility. The weight of the whole world is too much for our shoulders to bear and endure. This does not mean we should live in a reckless way or be ignorant of how our actions may or may not impact the state of the world, but for goodness sakes, a line needs to be drawn somewhere. What is the point of saving the world and yet losing our minds? It is an unfair trade. 

Tip three – Speak to someone

This is the most important.

I have found that the best way to stop overthinking, to stop worrying, to stop running scenarios in your mind repeatedly, to stop allowing that inner voice within you to amplify your fears and worries, is to speak to someone. Whether it is someone you know and trust or a stranger, speaking to someone allows you to offload the negative feelings inside you. If you do not, they will continue to build up in you until your mind can no longer contain it.

I’m sure it goes without saying that speaking to the right person is paramount. Do not speak to someone who will wallow in anxiety with you and drag you down further emotionally.

Speaking to the right person gives you perspective. Where you may see a great dense fog, they may see something that once condensed, can barely fill a glass of water.

I really hope this helped. Below are some specific people I have teamed up with to help you if you have specific worries. Click on their photos to access their social media pages.

1) Lauren Magers is the creator of the Happy Life System where her mission is to build self-mastery & create the happiest life for kids and families. Everytime I go to her, she just oozes positivity and light. Feel free to have a chat with her or you can also find her free affirmation cards at www.laurenmagers.com. Head over to her Instagram @laurenmagers to get a glimpse of her work.

2) If you are worried about your finances, I recommend having a chat with Peta-Kay. She is a personal Finance and Business coach who founded the Pearls & Perils coaching in 2020 out of a desire to help people stop surviving and instead thrive in their Finances. She provides one to one personal finance coaching and business coaching for small business owners.

3) Have questions or worries about your health, nutrition & fitness? Alex is the one I would talk to. He is a certified sports nutrition coach and specialist and also the founder of Titan Power. With a Masters in Physical Education and Sports Science, he prefers to use scientific approaches when it comes to his personal training and nutritional plans.

4) If you want a general mindset boost, Samson Yung-Obu is your guy, the author of nearly 15 books and a Masters in psychology, I think he knows what he is talking about.

 

5) If you are worried about your rights and responsibilities, United Legal Access is a good bet. The founder, Sibon Phiri, is an English legal practitioner who became a New York attorney and also specialises in US law making her able to help people from both sides of the Atlantic. Her organisation United Legal Access provide free initial legal advice on contractual disputes, consumer rights, employment and housing law matters. They also provide low cost immigration advice and assistance.

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