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Dear Stavroula

Ask Stavroula: Fears for My Future Ruin My Daily Life

November 14, 2020

Dear Stavroula, 

I am 50 years old and my problem is that my fears for the future do not let me enjoy my daily life. I have always been a very anxious person and uncertainty has affected me a lot. From a young age, I was trying to think of possible bad scenarios that could happen in my life and find ways to deal with them. But I could enjoy the beautiful moments. 

During the past year, however, the situation has affected me a lot. I feel insecure about our lives, about my job, and about my children's health. I feel a constant stress, a weight on my chest for everything that can happen and that I cannot control. The result is that I can no longer enjoy anything. Even when I experience a beautiful moment I think that this can end, I am overwhelmed by anxiety and insecurity, which I now experience physically. I know this is absurd, I have talked to psychologists, but they did not help me much. I would like you to help me if you can, maybe with some practical advice. Maybe I can calm down, because I do not want to resort to medication. 

Rachel 

Dear Rachel, 

It is really a very unpleasant feeling that you are experiencing and it can ruin the joy in your life, if you cannot control it. And the new reality that we have been living through this year makes things even more difficult. 

You write to me that you do not want to take medication, however before you decide to keep this attitude, you may need to talk to a doctor you trust, a specialist who can decide if your case requires medication or not. Many of us have a prejudice against the drugs for psychological issues, but we do not have the knowledge to evaluate the benefits or consequences of their use. 

Of course, there are practical ways to slowly start enjoying your life again. One of the most important things you can do is focus on the present moment you are living in. Every time you feel that worrying about the future beginning, you can remind yourself that this worry is not a real fact, but an emotion due to a thought you created. The real fact is that we live in the current moment. Whenever the problem arises, you can think about how to deal with it. So try to focus on the solution, not the problem. Be aware of every negative thought without judging yourself for it, and observe how this thought affects your body. Then try to bring to mind thoughts that relax you or that are pleasant to you. 

During each day, start using all your senses, for short periods of time, when you are doing some task. For example, when washing your hands, focus on the movement, the sensation of water, the smell of soap, the sound of running water. Gradually start increasing the amount of time you focus on each task you do each day. Start doing the same when you eat, when you walk, when you breathe. It will help you live longer in the present moment. 

Finally, there are breathing techniques that you can find for free on the internet, as well as meditation techniques. 

It may be very difficult at first to chase away negative thoughts and focus on the present, but with daily practice it will become easier and easier. After all, even when you do it, even for a little while, the benefits are many. 

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