Dear 100 Hour Board,
How do you keep worries about the future from overwhelming your life?
-My Name Here
I definitely don't recommend this, but the impending doom of finals definitely keeps me from worrying about the future. I guess a semi-good principle would be that focusing on the the things you can control helps you deal with the uncertainties of what you can't control. Good luck!
Right now? Letting go. Accepting that I can't control these circumstances, but trusting that if I keep my head and trust God and myself, things may be difficult but they will be survivable.
When I'm not in crisis mode? Planning like crazy. I plan for everything, and I enjoy it. It doesn't bring me extra stress, but it helps me feel prepared. Unfortunately, planning can't always prepare you for things like global pandemics.
Sometimes when I'm extra overwhelmed, I make an itemized list of things that are stressing me out. Then I separate them into things I can control and things I can't control. Then, I take the list of things I can control and sort them according to priority and severity. I try to tackle them, sometimes starting with the less important things, sometimes the bigger ones... depends on how much I can handle at the time. I've found that this sorting really helps me ground myself and ensure that I don't feel overwhelmed for long.
Dear easier said than done,
The best advice I have is taking things one step at a time. I know it is easy to see the whole picture and think you can never make it, but I promise if you take it one step at a time, it becomes doable. It won't suddenly become easy, but it will become doable. Also, I have found relief as I look back on my life and know that things have worked out for me in the past. I rely on that knowledge for things that seem insurmountable in the future.
-Sunday Night Banter
Therapy. This is what it's for.
That said, it's been a while since I've been to therapy, and I'm definitely less inclined to do so now that I've graduated BYU and it's no longer free. But I still have to manage and cope with fears about the future. This is actually a big thing for me, because I really hate uncertainty, more than most people I've ever talked to. A bad natural response I have to these worries is not consciously addressing my fears. This allows the fear to grow out of proportion, and create an unfounded and deep-set sense of foreboding, doom, and absolute misery. Basically some concern about the future will pop into my head, and I immediately go, "Ohmygoshthat'ssoSCARY, thefutureissoSCARY, there'snoescapefromthisHORIBBLESCARYthing!" The one thing that sticks in my brain is, "SCARY!", which then generates a wall of negative emotion every time I think of the future.
Like I said before, this is a bad response. It is precisely what gives fear the power to overwhelm you. One of the key methods I've found to counter this response is first to just recognize when it's happening. It is really easy to let our brains run with a thought without monitoring it and realizing what we're doing. Once I've caught on to the negative mantras in the back of mind, I make a space for the fear to come out. Instead of shoving it away, I let it rise to the surface. Note this has to be done in a controlled way. Unfortunately for me, I have an insanely strong mind/body connection--the wrong stray thought can (and has... ) cause me to literally throw up (or a whole slew of other unpleasant physical reactions, but listing all of them would take too long and ultimately be irrelevant). And so I let the fear rise up while in a meditative state. Rather than trying to immediately fix the fear, I will simply acknowledge its presence.
The next step is addressing and assessing your fear. A lot of fears have their root in logic and reality. It's when we allow them to grow in the back of our minds that they become illogical and bigger than life. So take the time to break down the bits of your fear that are logical and the parts that have been blown our of proportion. Sometimes you'll realize that what you were scared of isn't so scary after all. Other times it's still real and horribly pressing. In the latter situations, I find it most helpful to cover the broad "what ifs" of the fear, covering all potential situations. For instance, with this pandemic, I've thought about A) the scenario where I do not get the virus at all, B) the scenario where I get the virus and recover, and C) the scenario where I get the virus and it kills me. One of those scenarios has to come true.
There comes a point where our worst fears may to come to pass in the future, and there's nothing we can do about it. By accepting and coming to terms with that, it allows me at least to better move forward. If I can't change the eventual outcome, I will do what I can to optimize what I have in the moment.
Worries over the future can be really hard to deal with. Hopefully this answer has helped you at least somewhat. Good luck, my friend, and keep on hoping things will get better.