Don’t Worry About Tomorrow: Make Progress Today

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated May 1, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Life can feel overwhelming with daily demands, and worries may arise about how your current situation may impact your future. However, for many people, worrying can incite stress and challenging symptoms that make it more difficult to achieve goals. If you’re hoping to reduce daily stress to make future progress, there are a few areas you can look at for making change. 

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Are you ready to get out of anxious thought cycles?

What does it mean to worry?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines worry as mental distress, agitation, concern, or anxiety. Often, worrying involves repeated concerning thoughts about a fear of the future. You might be worried when facing a situation where you don’t know what to expect or don’t like the outcome of a situation you’ve been told about. You might start to think through every possible scenario or how you might react to the point that it causes stress.  

Worrying can be like running in place—you’re making a significant effort and expending physical resources, but you aren’t making tangible progress. When you worry, it can keep you stuck in a loop where you’re not moving forward, like running in place. 

What are the impacts of worrying?

Some worrying may be healthy if it helps you achieve a goal. However, worrying excessively can harm your mental and physical health. For example, frequent worrying may cause you to experience muscle aches and pain. It could also increase your blood pressure, lower your libido, upset your stomach, or cause extreme fatigue. As worrying is directly related to stress, the negative impacts of stress may also affect how you worry. 

Worrying can leave you with an overall sense of doom, which may lead to anxiety attacks or depression. People with anxiety and depression may struggle to break the cycle of worrying, which could cause withdrawal from relationships, social anxiety, lower productivity, and a lack of self-care.
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How to make progress today instead of worrying about the future

There are several ways to start making progress today to reduce worry about the future, including the following. 

Practice mindfulness 

Mindfulness is an exercise and way of living that involves focusing your mind on external and internal stimuli to ground yourself in a moment. Often, mindfulness involves the intention of soothing anxiety and stress or being able to sit peacefully with your thoughts, regardless of what they may be. It has been proven effective in reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. 

Mindfulness can take many forms. However, you can start by closing your eyes, relaxing your mind, and focusing on the present moment. To ground yourself, focus on your breathing, each of your five senses, or the thoughts passing through your mind. If you have worrying thoughts during mindfulness practice, imagine them like leaves flowing down a stream. Let them pass and flow away from you. 

Take action

When you worry, you might think without taking action, like in the example of running in place. Instead, you are repeatedly thinking about a problem and rehearsing it in your mind. To overcome worry, start taking action in the present. You can think of potential solutions to each worrying thought that crosses your mind and take action by following through with one of your ideas. 

Try to take risks, even if you’re worried about the outcome. Having a mindset that you can overcome any adversity can help you cope with disappointment if it occurs. If your worries do not have solutions or are caused by a situation out of your control, it might be beneficial to use a skill like radical acceptance, which involves learning to accept your situation with your entire mind and being. 

Address your fears

Worry is often rooted in fear. For example, you may feel worried because you fear the unknown. In these cases, acknowledge the fear at its source. Acknowledging what you’re afraid of can help you reframe your beliefs around that fear. 

For some people, worrying can be exaggerated. After an event occurs, you might feel relieved to know it wasn’t as terrifying as you thought it would be in your head. Think about your fears in advance and remind yourself of other times in your life when your fears didn’t turn out to be true. 

Consider creating two to three plans for your “worst-case scenario” as well. Worrying is often prompted by feeling out of control. If you feel you can handle any situation, you might feel less worried that the situation will be disastrous for you.  

Change your thoughts

It is possible to control your thoughts and perceptions. For example, if you’re worried about not getting a job you’ve been interviewing for, remind yourself that not being picked doesn’t take away your intelligence, ability to get another (potentially better) job, or your resilience. Seeing failure as a lesson to help you grow may help you feel less afraid of failing. 

Instead of telling yourself to stop worrying, replace maladaptive beliefs with functional beliefs. Then, live as though you believe the positive thoughts are true. For example, instead of worrying about a school presentation, practice the presentation and tell yourself you’ve done a fantastic job and are excited to show it to your classmates and teacher. 

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Are you ready to get out of anxious thought cycles?

Speak to a professional

If your worrying is causing significant distress, happening daily, or causing difficulty functioning, you might be living with an anxiety disorder. However, regardless of your diagnosis, speaking to a professional can help you address these worries healthily and patiently on a schedule personalized to you. 

Get support with online therapy

If you’re nervous or worried about trying therapy in person or face barriers to treatment like cost or distance, you can also try online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp. Studies show that online therapy can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. It also offers a cost-effective solution for those worried about paying for therapy.

Three months post-treatment, a University of Zurich study found 57% of online therapy clients no longer had depression compared to 42% of traditional in-person therapy clients. These statistics can show how addressing your worries with an online therapist may help you relieve potential underlying causes. 

Takeaway

Worrying can be caused by stress, anxiety, or maladaptive thought patterns. If you’re worried about your future, the steps above might help you get through your day more productively. However, you can also work with a licensed therapist to further discuss these challenges and develop a comprehensive treatment plan.
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