What Is Anticipatory Anxiety And How Do I Manage It?

If you experience increased anxiety thinking about a future event, we outline grounding techniques to help calm your mind.

What Is Anticipatory Anxiety And How Do I Manage It?

I was always a nervous wreck when it came to going away with friends. And sometimes, I still am. My heart beats faster at the thought of leaving my home and my mind sorts through all of the possible negative outcomes. Sometimes, I even get light headed and tingly at the thought of it. This is because I’ve experienced panic attacks while away from home before. Therefore, my mind links being away from home to that bad experience, causing me to fixate on a possible, recurring future situation. This is called anticipatory anxiety.

What Is Anticipatory Anxiety? 

Anticipatory anxiety is when you experience an increased level of stress or anxiety when you think about a future event. The event can be weeks away, like an upcoming work presentation, or right around the corner, like going to the grocery store.

Typically, those who struggle with anticipatory anxiety fear possible negative outcomes and link the future to the past. It also causes our imaginations to run wild. This magnifies situations, which can debilitate us from even carrying out day-to-day activities.

Anticipatory anxiety is also not a distinct mental health condition. Rather, it is linked to other mental health disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety, specific phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Drawing of a woman with her face in her hands and a cloud of thoughts around her.
(Vectorium/Shutterstock)

How Can I Identify It?

The symptoms of anticipatory anxiety usually include difficulty concentrating, trouble managing emotions or feeling numb, loss of interest in daily activities, muscle pain, nausea, appetite loss, sleep issues, rapid heart beat, shortness of breath, dizziness, tingling in the body, upset stomach or hot and cold flashes.

Symptoms can vary per individual and may come and go, however, these are usually good indicators that you may be suffering from anticipatory anxiety. But don’t worry, there are helpful tools to combat it. 

How Can I Manage It?

While anticipatory anxiety can seem overwhelming, there are various grounding techniques (a practice that helps calm you when faced with negative or challenging situations) to combat the situation. Check them out below.

Take Deep Breaths

When you are beginning to feel overwhelmed or sense fear of the future slowly creeping in, try box breathing. 

Box breathing is a technique used by police officers, U.S. Navy SEALS, nurses, and more. First, exhale through your mouth, ridding of all oxygen in your lungs. Next, slowly breathe in through your nose and count to four. You should feel the oxygen filling up your entire chest. Now, hold your breath for another slow count of four. Then, using the same four-count, exhale all of the air through your mouth.

Be conscious of each breath, count and movement. It will help center you and calm your thoughts. 

Go Through The 5-4-3-2-1 Technique

This five step process can bring you back to the present and slow your heart rate. 

Image of drawn hands counting down to one.
(ST.art/Shutterstock)

First, acknowledge five things you can see around you. Examples include a phone, a dog or an outlet. Pay attention to detail and call it out. Next, acknowledge four things you can touch (and actually touch them!). It can be your hair, a desk, a rock or the floor under your feet. Now, acknowledge three things you can hear outside of your body. It can be a bird singing, your cubicle partner typing or the soft music playing in the area. Then, acknowledge two things you can smell. Examples include your sweatshirt or a pencil. And lastly, acknowledge one thing you can taste. Maybe it’s the taste of morning coffee left in your mouth. 

While it’s a lengthier process, it can slow down your heart rate and steady your breathing. Just stay focused on the various sensations. 

Journal

If the above grounding techniques weren’t much help, pull out your journal and begin to write.

One prompt that can help calm the anxious mind includes writing down all of your worries. Without hesitation, spill every thought in your head onto the page. This creates a form of release. Another writing prompt includes writing about past anxious experiences and how you overcame them. If you got through them once, you can get through them again. And if neither of those are your cup of tea, then take action by writing down what you will do if your fear comes true. This gives you a sense of control and puts you back in the driver’s seat.

Anticipatory anxiety can be mild, or it can have severe side effects if linked to a deeper disorder. If you feel like you need professional help, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local provider.

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Sophie Turner’s Latest Instagram Post Has Fans Concerned

Sophie Turner recently posted a photo of herself showing off her post-baby body and now some fans are worried that the actress has dropped too much weight so soon after giving birth to her daughter with Joe Jonas, Willa. The Game of Thrones star gave birth to her first child after a low-key pregnancy that […]

Sophie Turner’s Latest Instagram Post Has Fans Concerned

Sophie Turner recently posted a photo of herself showing off her post-baby body and now some fans are worried that the actress has dropped too much weight so soon after giving birth to her daughter with Joe Jonas, Willa. The Game of Thrones star gave birth to her first child after a low-key pregnancy that was kept carefully under wraps until it was obvious that Turner was expecting.  

Sophie Turner’s Latest Instagram Snap Causes Concern

Dark Phoenix actress Sophie Turner made some fans concerned for her health in a recent Instagram post. Turner, who welcomed her daughter Willa last July, showed off her petite figure in a pair of Louis Vuitton shorts, a triangle bikini top, and an oversized button down shirt that possibly belongs to husband Joe Jonas. The casual ensemble left plenty of Turner’s skin on display, including her incredibly flat tummy. 

The first picture in the photoset was a close up of Turner’s torso, which gave followers a good look at her green striped bikini top. The royal blue shorts, which hit Turner at just above her knees, clung to her hip like a lover, accenting the UK-born actress’ curves to a very flattering degree. The second photo was a mirror selfie that showed off more of Turner’s outfit and body. 

Considering the fact that Turner gave birth just a year ago, it’s pretty impressive that she’s managed to snap back into shape, though she no doubt had lots of help shedding any baby weight she might have acquired. Perhaps because young mothers face so much pressure to immediately lose the weight they gained after pregnancy that some fans expressed concerns that Turner looked so thin. 

Comments From Worried Fans Pour In

“I’m starting to think the baby was a figment of my imagination,” one person wrote while another asked, “Didn’t you had a baby? How the f do you look so good?” While there were plenty of positive comments praising Turner’s looks, including some who called the star their “body goals,” there were also a handful of comments expressing concern that she was too thin. 

A fan left Turner a heartfelt message that read, “You lost so much weight! I mean no bad, I just want to say that I hope you are not battling with any kind of physical or mental illness! Love you, take care!” The well-wisher added a red heart emoji at the end of their post. Another poster called out Western beauty standards for pushing young women to go to extremes to stay in society’s definition of attractiveness, adding, “I hope she is healthy…before so called Western version of fit and beautiful.” 

Mixed in with the sincere concern from some fans were unhelpful comments about Turner’s body. “You are so skinny,” one Instagram user wrote, followed by three shocked face emojis. Another simply told the Game of Thrones star, “Please eat a burger,” which is insulting on top of being unhelpful. You’d assume that by now people would understand that commenting on someone else’s body, whether it’s to say they’re too fat or too thin, is totally unnecessary and completely unwelcome. 

Yes, Sophie Turner did have a baby a year ago, but the actress apparently enjoys fitness, as evidenced by her and husband Joe Jonas’ many walks during the coronavirus quarantine. Despite the fact that the couple were clearly trying to keep their pregnancy low-key, they still risked exposing their secret with these almost daily walks, even though paparazzi were posed around their neighborhood to snap pics. 

A post shared by Sophie Turner (@sophiet)

It’s not so unbelievable that Turner, who is only 25 years old, would get back into shape fairly quickly. The concern from fans is probably appreciated, but respecting Turner’s privacy and her own autonomy over her health and body would probably be appreciated even more.

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