How To Deal With Anticipatory Anxiety? 5 Important Tips


Imagine this scene. You are in the tranquility of your home, doing your homework, when suddenly a cascade of negative thoughts about a future situation invades you.. Even though it hasn’t happened yet, you imagine the worst outcome over and over again. These terrifying scenarios, even if you don’t want to, steal your peace of mind and you don’t know how to control them. Has it happened to you?

The situation we just described doesn’t just happen to you. It’s a more common defense mechanism than you think. If you identified with the aforementioned scene, don’t worry, there is a solution! In the following lines we will tell you how to deal with anticipatory anxiety.

What is anticipatory anxiety?

When we talk about anticipatory anxiety we are referring to a state of constant and elevated worry about future events, which gives rise to self-fulfilling prophecies.. That is to say, waiting for that “peak” of fear levels to appear makes us become very tense, causing us to go into a loop.

It is a manifestation of anxiety that is generated when a person feels overwhelmed by situations that have not yet occurred. It is characterized by excessive anticipation and fear of facing these situations, which can generate a high level of emotional discomfort. If you have experienced it, you know very well that anticipatory anxiety can feel like an agonizing dance with the future, like a torment that makes you relive in your mind events that have not yet happened.

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This anxious anticipation can be so vivid that it feels as if the situation is already happening.. Anticipatory anxiety can occur in different scenarios: a public presentation, a job interview, a trip, a doctor’s appointment, an important exam or even everyday events such as going to the supermarket or talking to someone.

And, okay, if you’re wondering how normal worry is different from this manifestation of anxiety; The answer is: its intensity and disproportion. You see, ordinary worry is brief and helps us prepare, while anticipatory anxiety is recurrent, irrational, and interferes with the normal development of our daily lives.


Causes of anticipatory anxiety

The causes of anticipatory anxiety are varied. These could be related to variables such as genetics, biological factors, such as a problem in the regulation of neurotransmitters such as serotonin or norepinephrine; stress, or having experienced traumatic situations.

Additionally, personality can also play a very important role. People who are very self-critical, perfectionistic, who tend to have many negative thoughts or unrealistic hopes tend to be much more likely to experience anticipatory anxiety..

Symptoms of anticipatory anxiety

As with other disorders, the symptoms of anticipatory anxiety can vary from person to person. These can present as emotional or physical manifestations. Below we will mention some:

emotional symptoms

The emotional impact is based on:

Physical symptoms

The physical impact is based on:

These symptoms can interfere with different aspects of a person’s life, such as their academic or work performance, their personal relationships, and their general well-being.. In addition, they can lead to the avoidance of situations that generate anxiety, constant checking that everything is fine, and even social isolation.

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Tips for dealing with anticipatory anxiety

Fortunately, there are several tips that can help people feel more at peace and reduce the effects of this condition. Here we will tell you some keys to dealing with anticipatory anxiety.

1. Identify and challenge the triggers of your anxiety

Recognizing and challenging the negative and catastrophic thoughts that often accompany this type of anxiety is very important. It is essential to remember that thoughts do not necessarily reflect reality. A practical and realistic approach can help counteract these negative thoughts.

Although we know very well that anxiety cannot be cured just by “trying hard” or avoiding it, it is important that you pay close attention to the thoughts that generate that anxiety.. Ask yourself: are they realistic or catastrophic? We invite you to question their veracity and replace them with more objective thoughts that generate greater well-being.

2. Practice relaxation techniques

And, no, we are not telling you to run out and buy a plane ticket and go into a ashram of India and create your own story of “Eat, Pray, Love”… Although, if that is what you want, nothing stops you. But we can tell you that there are simple techniques that you can apply from home.

Try deep breathing, yoga, meditation or mindfulness It can be an ideal option to keep you in the present. When you start to make them part of your life, these tools will help you reduce physical and mental tension, thus reducing anxiety and promoting a state of calm and serenity..

3. Create healthy habits

Yes, we know you’ve heard and read this many times, but it’s important! Try to lead a healthy lifestyle, with a balanced diet, avoid alcohol, caffeine and get enough rest. This will help you keep your anxiety levels much more regulated.

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And please, start moving! You should know that physical exercise is of great help in these cases because it increases the release of dopamine and serotonin. The more intense the exercise, the more relief you will have from the anxiety that overwhelms you so much..

4. Set realistic life goals

As we talked about previously, there are different personality characteristics that can influence the appearance of anticipatory anxiety; among them perfectionism, impatience and the desire to want everything and want it now.

If you identify with this, when you set new challenges, try to make them achievable. Breaking these goals down into smaller, more achievable steps can help reduce feelings of distress.. Allow yourself to focus on more manageable tasks!

5. Seek support

Don’t let everything stay in your head! Seeking professional support in psychotherapy, sharing your worries and fears with family and friends can give you relief and a different perspective on your situations.

Appropriate therapeutic support can also help you navigate the path of acceptance of uncertainty and understand that this is a natural part of life.. When you accept that you do not have complete control over future events and focus on what is in your hands in the present, anticipatory anxiety will decrease.

And remember: anticipatory anxiety can be treated and improved. It doesn’t just happen to you, many people experience it. With effort, dedication and the necessary support, you can learn to manage it and live a calmer life.