This month I'm writing all about self-therapy.
In this post I'm going to teach you how to be less anxious about the future.
It all starts with building what I refer to as an inner insurance plan, an investment in your current mindset that will repeatedly pay dividends down the road.
This is one way to take action now so you can worry less about what's to come.
An inner insurance plan is all about building hardiness, which is essentially developing faith in your ability to cope with an unknown future filled with things you simply can't control.
When you have greater faith in your ability to handle life's twists and turns, you live a less anxious life. Period.
Sounds good, right?
The following four steps are an introduction to investing in inner insurance. They will get you started on the right path for developing the healthiest mentality possible for the future.
1. Feed yourself the language of coping and resilience.
First and foremost, commit to developing an internal dialogue in which you tell yourself that you will be ok no matter what you have to endure. Even if horrible things happen, remind yourself that you will find a way to adjust.
The opposite would be to feed yourself the idea that you won't be ok, and all that does is promote a life of anxiety. Get used to saying to yourself, "No matter what happens, I will be ok," even if you don't believe it. You may not be ok in the moment or in the midst of a crisis, but time and investment in the self heals much of the emotional pain.
2. Commit to developing reciprocal sharing and support in your relationships.
People who are more calm about the future know they can fall back on deep relationships for support. They've developed a vast support network and will move toward it in times of need.
Assess whether your relationships with the most supportive people in your life are one-way relationships. Do you tend to play the role of the "taker," meaning that you receive much more support than you give?
People who offer support also require support, even if they don't ask for it. Therefore, it's imperative that you commit to making your most valued relationships a two-way street for support so that you'll have help in your greatest moments of need.
Face-to-face support solidifies a bond between two people much more than digital support. The latter definitely helps, but a human bond is best strengthened through in-person contact. Strive to rely on messaging, calling, or video conferencing as a supplement to in-person connection, not the other way around.
3. Cultivate your passions so you can fall back on them during challenging times.
Your passions are helpful for making life feel meaningful in times of loss and suffering. If you don't already have several hobbies that make you lose track of time, then it's time to start developing them even if this involves a massive trial and error effort. The healthiest hobby I can think of is journaling. Other examples of passions include traveling, art, music, scuba diving, photography, web design, and spiritual enhancement seminars.
Try to develop at least one active passion and one passive passion.
You inner insurance plan requires at least one active passion, which is likely to help you cope better in times of heavy stress. Active passions involve physical exertion. Activities like cycling, swimming, kickboxing or yoga are as good as it gets for managing high levels of anxiety and stress. This active passion cannot tap into your impulsive side, such as gambling or drug use (for obvious reasons).
Passive passions are activities that don't require strenuous physical exertion, such as growing a collection, learning a language, conducting frequent online research on a favorite topic, or attending meetups on a topic you love to talk about.
Cultivating multiple passions provides you with options for reminding you that life can still feel meaningful if you lose touch with your purpose or value.
4. Develop healthy habits that give you a sense of personal control when everything else feels out of control.
When significantly negative life events occur, people often have a hard time maintaining self-care, but a major negative life event is less likely to derail healthy habits already on auto-pilot. Worst case scenario, your deeply engrained, healthy habits will naturally resurface once life returns to some semblance of normalcy.
There's certainly an overlap between passions and healthy habits. Some healthy habits to consider are daily exercise, making your bed, flossing, maintaining a commitment to regularly scheduled, face-to-face interaction with friends, minimizing emotional eating, and striving to eat foods with fewer ingredients.
Positive habits make the world feel more predictable and give you a sense of personal control.
Commit to these four strategies and you'll feel like you've taken out a giant inner insurance plan to protect you in the future.
After all, is there a more a priceless gift you can give yourself than the sense that you can handle whatever the future will throw at you?
(Photo Credits: Bigstock.com)
This post was originally published for Self-Therapy Month at Techealthiest.
Techealthiest is an exciting blog dedicated to teaching the technology of health and happiness. Learn innovative tips and strategies for improving your relationship, including the impact of your digital world on love and marriage.
Dr. Greg Kushnick is a Manhattan psychologist in private practice with offices in Chelsea and the Financial District. He employs enhanced CBT techniques to help one New Yorker at a time. He has extensive experience working with people to alleviate their anxiety, depression, anger and relationship problems.