Anticipatory Anxiety: 5 Healthy Ways To Keep It At Bay
Updated on December 20, 2022 by Team ShineSheets
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Anticipatory anxiety can leave you restless and exhausted.
Imagine – it’s right around your bedtime. You begin your typical night routine: brushing your teeth, removing your makeup, and maybe even listening to your favorite podcast. You finally crawl into bed, and then… you start thinking about tomorrow.
Maybe you have a major project coming up for work and you’re on a tight deadline. Perhaps you have an exam, a job interview, or a difficult discussion with a loved one soon. As you lie in your bed, you begin to dwell on everything that could go wrong. What if I didn’t study enough? What is my boss going to say when he finds out I didn’t hit my sales goal? What if I blank out during my presentation?
While it’s perfectly normal to have some nervousness over upcoming and unpleasant events, it’s not okay for those fears to hinder your day-to-day life.
What is Anticipatory Anxiety?
According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, anticipatory anxiety is worrying about a future event, situation, action, or decision.
Anticipatory anxiety can manifest in various ways, and it can worsen over time as a result if it is not properly addressed. Sleeplessness, lack of hunger, mood swings, physical tension, and restlessness are all common symptoms of anticipatory anxiety.
What to Do When You Have Anticipatory Anxiety, Regularly
What can you do to manage this feeling of impending doom? There’s no black-and-white answer as people have varying degrees of anticipatory anxiety. Some may experience it a few times a month, while others may face a daily struggle.
Regardless of where you may land on the spectrum – and yes, it is a full-fledged spectrum – it’s worth taking the time and effort to find the best solution for you.
1. Try to get enough sleep on a regular basis
It’s an age-old piece of advice, but it’s pertinent to your overall health. According to the CDC, adults need at least seven hours of sleep or more per night.
At the same time, we get it: it’s not always so cookie-cutter. People have work, classes, jobs, children, elderly family members, and many other forms of taxing obligations. But in order to reduce the occurrence of anticipatory anxiety, a proper sleep regime can be detrimental. Try to do your best to get as close to eight hours as possible.
2. Move your body
Again, usually easier said than done. Understandable. But, carving out at least twenty minutes a day to do some form of exercise can immensely lift your spirits. Daily movement lowers stress and anxiety levels and promotes better sleep (which is especially important for people with anticipatory anxiety).
Plus, it doesn’t need to be anything intense. Going for a walk, cleaning, dancing around your room, and stretching can all make a lasting impression on your daily mood. They can also act as a brief distraction from your anxious thoughts.
3. Talk to yourself, kindly
Having anticipatory anxiety does not mean that you should be mean to yourself!
Talking to yourself is a completely normal and appropriate method to process difficult thoughts, feelings, and emotions. But, there’s a catch: make sure that when you are talking to yourself, you are doing so kindly.
Did you know that our minds think nearly ten times faster than we can verbally speak? This means that we can pack in quite a bit of negative self-talk within a very short timeframe. Letting our thoughts flow verbally can allow us to sort through them at a slower pace, ultimately helping us think through our problems with a higher degree of rationality.
Converse with yourself out loud the same way you would converse with a close friend; it might just help you get some thoughts off of your chest.
4. Get out and socialize
It is challenging to socialize when you’re dealing with anxiety, and that’s why you need to try. We’re not suggesting that you head over to the nearest bar and chat up with new people.
Making dinner together, having a drink, or going for a walk with a close friend or family member is one of the best ways to cope with anticipatory anxiety.
Whether you’re looking to distract yourself for a few hours or unpack some of your anxiety-related troubles, it is best done with someone you love and trust. Chances are, you’ll be glad you made the effort to see them.
5. Face the problem head-on
Uh oh… Now that’s a tricky one. In some cases, it’s best to “rip the band-aid off” as some might put it. Of course, there are some situations where this is not possible, but sometimes nipping the problem in the bud is the best way to truly lower your anticipatory anxiety.
For example, maybe you made a mistake at work and you’re anxious about telling your manager. First and foremost, you must remind yourself that you’re human, and humans screw up. You may begin thinking about the worst-case scenario… but, try thinking about the best-case scenario. Maybe they will be understanding and forgiving, and they’ll respect you for owning up to your mistake.
Once you’ve spent a bit of time being thoughtful about how you’re going to confront the issue, muster up the courage to go solve it. Even if you don’t achieve your ideal outcome, you can at least feel better knowing that it’s off of your chest.
Anticipatory Anxiety Is NOT Permanent
At the end of the day, our minds are incredibly powerful. They also like to play tricks on us. Doing these practical exercises can at least put you on the right path to coping with daily, weekly, or monthly anticipatory anxiety.
If you’ve already given these methods a shot and you’re still not feeling much better, that’s okay! In this case, please reach out to a professional for help. A trained therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist can help you to address the root causes of your anxiety. Nowadays, there are plenty of affordable online services that can cater to your specific requirements too.
You are already taking a courageous step by doing your research, so go ahead and grab a cookie, pour a glass of water, or light your favorite candle. You got this.
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