Planning for the Future When You Have Anxiety

December 10, 2014 Greg Weber

When you have anxiety, planning for the future can be extremely difficult. These future planning tips can make anxiety about the future easier.

Planning for the future when you have anxiety can feel utterly impossible. The paralysis, chronic avoidance, and feelings of spinning craziness going on between your ears is something you have to experience for yourself to really understand. And while it's true the future is uncertain, part of being an adult means becoming reasonably proficient at anticipating and planning for the semi-predictable arcs of life: career, finances, health, family, and aging.

The irony, of course, is that anxiety disorder is, itself, an unhealthy fixation on the future -- specifically, how things might go wrong in the time ahead. So, when you have anxiety, planning for the future is really about developing a new relationship with your future, one that's about reasonable preparation and letting go of the things beyond your control. That's easier said than done.

Tips on Planning for the Future When You Have Anxiety

It's not easy, but, with practice, you can learn to build a healthier future for yourself. The tips below can help:

  • Learn how to relax -- You can't accomplish anything with a tense mind and body. Learn and practice some sort of relaxation therapy on a regular basis.
  • Make a list -- I know I keep harping on list making, but there's just no way to execute any sort of future plan without getting it down in black and white. Learning how to get things done when you have anxiety involves list making. Something that I use to make this easier, is an organizational software tool called Evernote.
  • Create a five year plan -- Visualizing and planning (on paper) where you'd like to be five years from now is a good exercise to start creating the kind of future you want for yourself.
  • Plan for stress and anxiety -- One thing people don't tend to do is anticipate the future impact of their mood disorder. The impact of anxiety and other disorders can be predicted, at least to some degree. Planning for future anxiety stress can help you navigate around some of the worst of it.
  • Let go of perfectionism -- Perfectionism is the unreasonable drive to never make mistakes, which, for humans, is impossible. Instead, consider how doing something "good enough" is actually far preferable to trying to do it perfectly.
  • Ask for help -- Anxious people tend to be afraid to ask for help, but doing it all by yourself is incredibly difficult. Others' input can be extremely useful in figuring out what goals to set and how to reach them. People you might ask for help with planning for the future can include friends, guidance counselors, career counselors, family members, clergy, and therapists.
  • Take action -- Anxiety recovery is ultimately about doing, not just thinking or planning. Reaching your future goals involves taking many little action steps over a long period of time. So, make the best plan you can manage, and then get out there and do stuff. Doing something, even if it's the wrong thing, is always better than doing nothing at all.

Even though the future is a moving target, you still have to plan for it as best you can anyway. Hopefully, these tips will make planning for the future when you have anxiety a little more doable.

APA Reference
Weber, G. (2014, December 10). Planning for the Future When You Have Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Author: Greg Weber

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