Anticipation anxiety is a phenomenon that underlies many forms of psychological distress. Not only is this part of the growth mechanisms of anxiety disorders (that is, mental disorders so severe that they require professional treatment).
Then we will look at several tips to reduce anticipatory anxiety and that it does not become a self-reinforcing problem.
What is anticipatory anxiety?
Let’s start with the basics: define the term “anticipatory anxiety”. This is a significant increase in our anxiety levels, due to ours fear of suffering in future dangerous situations, Although in the here and now there is nothing that is a threat.
People who experience this are perfectly capable of seeing that there is nothing in the current situation that could pose a danger, and even that nothing that they cannot do in the next few seconds will greatly improve their options in the face. to what scares them. And that will happen later, but yet they enter a state of high activation and alertness, as if the consequences of one wrong move could inflict great discomfort.
On the other hand, anticipatory anxiety it is linked to sensitivity to anxiety. This factor, which is known to depend largely on genetics but also on patterns of interaction with the environment that we have learned and internalized, is our tendency to interpret uncomfortable stimuli and forms of discomfort in general as somehow. something that poses a danger, which will precipitate a sharp increase in our level of anxiety.
Thus, people who are very sensitive to anxiety find themselves in a vulnerable situation, as there are many more events that can cause them to suffer from anxiety disorders. Being aware of this personal trait increases the expectation of experiencing unexpected spikes in stress and anxiety, fueling anticipatory anxiety. This creates a situation of self-fulfilling prophecy.
How to fight anticipatory anxiety
Follow these key ideas to better manage anticipatory anxiety in your day-to-day life.
1. Sleep and eat well
It doesn’t seem, however maintaining good physical health takes us away from vulnerability to anxiety considerably. The quality of sleep is especially important, as it has been found that a relatively small decrease in the number of hours of sleep significantly increases the chances of developing mood disorders and anxiety.
Set and stick to sleep schedules for each day of the week, and try to maintain a balanced diet that provides you with all the nutrients you need, no more and no less.
2. Don’t try to fight the anticipation
When it comes to fighting the anxiety of anticipation, something paradoxical happens; trying to actively counter this psychological tendency only gives you more strength, this makes this combination of stress and anxiety more likely to make us suffer again.
As the name suggests, anticipatory anxiety is all about the inferences we make about what’s going to happen, which means trying to fight it by using arguments to convince ourselves that nothing will happen. It’s usually a good idea, at least if that’s the only metric. we take to prevent anxiety from affecting us. Thinking about it a lot will only fuel the anxiety, and all our efforts to reason will be built on the faulty ground of intense psychological distress.
3. Respect for breaks
Even though we are preparing for something very important, like a final exam, rest periods should be given the importance they deserve; not doing this will make us more efficient and generate more discomfort. If we do not abuse a passive attitude, rest is not wasting time, it is investing it to be in better conditions.
Therefore, it is recommended to create rest periods for your daily life. When the anticipated anxiety arrives, force yourself to spend the next few minutes calming down and feeling good again, nothing more. To do this, get away from what you were doing and rest in a comfortable place where you have some privacy and calm.
4. Practice controlled breathing exercises
Many times anxiety persists mainly due to difficulty with oxygenation well produced by muscle tension itself. This is why controlling your breathing to be able to breathe in slowly and deeply several times allows you to break out of this vicious circle of anticipatory anxiety.
5. Go to the psychologist
Finally, you may need to go to some psychological intervention sessions for a professional to follow your case in a personalized way. It has been found that there are several treatment strategies that can help manage anxiety in those who suffer from it regularly, and that the beneficial effects of these interventions persist.
If you are interested in professional support in this aspect or in any other related to the regulation of emotions and stress, you can consult my contact details by clicking on this link.
- Gu, R., Huang, YX, Luo, YJ (2010). Anxiety and negativity of comments. Psychophysiology. 47 (5): 961-967.
- Hovenkamp-Hermelink, JHM et al. (2019). Anxiety sensitivity, its stability, and its longitudinal association with the severity of anxiety symptoms. Scientific Reports, 9, 4314.
- Taylor, S. et al. (2007). Robust Dimensions of Anxiety Sensitivity: Initial Development and Validation of the Anxiety Sensitivity Index-3. Psychological assessment, 19, pages 176-188.