Stop Anticipatory Anxiety: The Fear of What Might Happen
When I experience anxiety, one of the main symptoms I have is anticipatory anxiety, which is excessive worry about what will happen in the future. It is this symptom that keeps me up at night when I'm not sleeping well and often results in intrusive thoughts that interrupt my concentration when I'm trying to focus.
When I experience anticipatory anxiety, it is sometimes related to an upcoming event that I am worried about, but sometimes it's not. Sometimes, I begin to feel anxiety symptoms, such as my heart beating fast or shortness of breath, and I don't know where it's coming from. And then, I start trying to figure out why I'm feeling that way, and I might attribute what I'm feeling to something that I'm worried about in the moment, such as something that is going to happen the next day.
The problem with this is that the worries start to multiply, and before I know it, I'm overwhelmed and unable to think clearly. The anxiety will often escalate to the point that I'm experiencing not just worry but real, uncontrollable fear. I may even experience a panic attack. Often, I'm aware that I'm thinking irrationally, but my thoughts get to the point where my emotions feel out of control, and I feel as though I can't take control of my situation.
How I Cope with Anticipatory Anxiety
I've learned that relaxation is key with anticipatory anxiety. I need to implement relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, and surrounding myself with a calm, peaceful environment.
Another strategy that helps me is simply distracting myself with something that will grab my attention. This might be something like exercise, which is often enough to take my mind completely off what I am worried about. Other helpful distractions are watching movies I enjoy with my family or socializing with others.
I've also found it helpful to imagine a "worst-case scenario" about the situation, and this is often not as bad as my emotions would have me believe. So sometimes, this helps me to reframe my perspective of the situation to where I experience less emotional reactivity to my thoughts surrounding it.
Ultimately, the most effective strategy that I've found helpful is using mindfulness. When I use mindfulness, it keeps me anchored, and I stay grounded. Mindfulness helps pull me back from this downhill slope where my thoughts of worry pick up speed and become feelings of panic and terror. Additionally, I've noticed that when I practice mindfulness to help with this type of anxiety, I am able to settle into sleep. It's taken some time for me to get used to using this technique, but the more I've used it, the more I find that I am able to turn to it when I need to.
For more information on overcoming anticipatory anxiety, watch this.
Are there specific strategies that help you overcome anticipatory anxiety? If so, share them in the comments below.
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2023, February 14). Stop Anticipatory Anxiety: The Fear of What Might Happen, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, June 9 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2023/2/stop-anticipatory-anxiety-the-fear-of-what-might-happen