In a year filled with worry and uncertainty, new research1 reveals that over two-thirds of Brits (64%) worry about the past once a week or more, and nearly three in ten (27%) struggle to live in the present.
The research, carried out by comparethemarket.com, also uncovers Brits’ biggest concerns for the future.
Not only do two-thirds of Brits (64%) worry about the past once a week or more, but 16% say they worry about it once a day, and 14% think about it several times a day.
And while 27% say they always or often worry about the past and struggle to live in the present, just 13% say they never worry about the past and always live in the present.
comparethemarket.com found that the top five concerns when looking towards the future are:
Over half (56%) of respondents say that money is the biggest worry when thinking about their futures, no doubt worsened by the economic effects of COVID-19 and redundancy worries arising from the end of the furlough scheme in October.
Health (47%) and family (45%) are the second and third largest concerns for Brits, suggesting once more that recent events have only intensified worries about our health and that of our families. Ageing (33%) and relationships (27%) closely follow, while just 4% say they do not worry about their futures at all.
There are notable differences in answers between younger and older respondents. Nearly a third (30%) of younger respondents aged 18-24 and nearly half (46% ) of those aged 25-34 say they always or often worry about the past and struggle to live in the present. This compares with just 9% of 55-64-year-olds and 2% of those aged 65 plus.
The research also looked into the views of parents on these topics, revealing that those with children are more likely to say they worry about the past and struggle to live in the present (31%) than people who aren’t parents (13%).
While both parents and non-parents worry most about money, half (50%) of parents say they worry about family the most; only a third (32%) of people without children say the same.
For anyone struggling to let go of the past and live in the present, Thomas Webb, Psychology Professor at The University of Sheffield offers his advice:
Mindfulness involves focusing on what’s happening in the present moment. You are aware of what’s happening in your body, mind, emotions, and the world around you, but you don’t think or dwell on these things – rather, you simply observe them.
This involves being kind and understanding towards yourself when confronted with personal failings and recognising that this is perfectly normal and part of the shared human experience.
Self-compassionate people recognise that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing difficulties is inevitable, so they tend to be gentle with themselves when confronted with painful experiences rather than getting angry when life falls short of set ideals.
Don’t dwell on the past
Finally, know that it’s okay to think about the past and the future. You don’t always have to live in the present, but try not to dwell on the past unless you can learn from it. Only think about the future in small doses and in a healthy, positive way (e.g. don’t spend time worrying about the future, think about it just long enough to prepare for it and then move on).
Commenting on the research, Kamran Altaf, Head of Life Insurance at comparethemarket.com says: “Our research shows a lot about us as a nation, and how much we think about our pasts and the future. With all that has happened this year, it’s understandable that some people might worry about the future, but it’s important to try and find a balance between living in the present and planning for your future. “