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When an individual experiences elevated levels of anxiety due to thoughts about a future situation or event, it can be termed as anticipation anxiety. It is usually regarded as a symptom of some other anxiety disorder and not as a separate mental condition. The anxiety can persist for months before the actual event and thus can be very debilitating and draining.
The worry associated with anticipation anxiety is usually about increased focus on what sufferers think may occur, typically with disastrous predictions about the future event. The intensity of such negative thoughts about the future situation helps determine whether the associated anxiety causes some discomfort or is incapacitating.
Symptoms Of Anticipation Anxiety
The symptoms of anticipation anxiety are often similar to that of generalized anxiety disorder. A few common symptoms and effects of anticipation anxiety are listed below:
Increased hesitation, restlessness, negative focus, uneasiness, and avoidance.
Regular tensing of the body while waiting for the anxiety causing event. A tensed upper body can trigger issues like pain in chest, hyperventilation, and muscle spasms, etc. A tense body can also be very disabling.
Changes in behavior so as to prevent the reoccurrence of adverse symptoms
Preoccupation with thoughts about the fearful event can cause relationship problems. It may also pose problems in attention and concentration, which may adversely affect work, enjoyment of desired activities, and other aspects of daily life
Anticipation anxiety may occur as part of other disorders like social phobia, panic attacks, and public speaking phobia, etc.
Stopping The Habit Of Thinking The Worst
Some of the ways to manage anticipation anxiety are discussed below:
- Remember the fact that excessively worrying about uncontrollable things in the future does not result in actual resolution of any unforeseen issues
- Look at the evidence currently available within you
- Carefully determine the best outcome, the worst outcome, and the most likely outcome
- Find out ways to help cope with bad outcomes as well as work towards eliminating the sources that may trigger a bad outcome.
Repeat to yourself that you are the master of your thoughts and that the negative thoughts and worrying have no control over you.
In case you wish to anticipate outcomes of future events or situations, then foresee them as being pleasant and fruitful.
Do not indulge in over analysis of events. Instead you can retrain the brain to not worry about anticipated outcomes. Instead of obsessive, self-destructive, and negative thoughts, train the mind to imagine better outcomes and the sensations of satisfaction that the pleasant results offer.
In the short term, distract the mind and interrupt the emotion to decrease the anxiety levels. This can be done by engaging in a routine task like doing a crossword, or looking at a soothing painting, or listening to some invigorating music, etc. This will help change the focus of attention from negative thoughts and anticipation anxiety back to the present.
Exercising helps burn the additional levels of adrenaline that are released during times of increased anxiety. The physical symptoms of anxiety can be alleviated with breathing exercises, yoga, relaxation techniques, CBT, and meditation.
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