Most of us are guilty of worrying over what might happen – even if the odds are negligent! Yet this is a widespread issue known as anticipatory anxiety. With people suffering from social anxiety, it can be rather severe. Finding yourself in a social situation, you can think constantly about what can go wrong. You become immersed in considerations about what you will be called upon to do if this or that trouble occurs. Some other people may get yellow perpending on what people around them are thinking about them. Are they stringently judgmental? When too severe, anticipatory anxiety can result in physical ailments like pain in the chest and difficulty breathing. It can absolutely destroy your concentration on your current tasks, so you need to get your condition well in hand. Here’s what to do to stop stressing about an upcoming event.
Mindful individuals are acutely aware of the present. They do not tend to be obsessed with the future, much less be troubled about it. This practice makes you handle current situations without meandering into the future or the past.
You are mindful means you don’t wallow in negativity and consequently don’t get wretched. Mindfulness is often achieved through meditating. For those who find stressful thoughts obtrusive, a course in meditation may be efficacious in escaping from meddlesome misgivings.
Lay far-reaching plans
A common source of anxiety is the realization that you are insufficiently prepared for what may come. Running over possible stumbling blocks in your mind can help you plan in advance – what you are going to do if you are stumped, how you can respond to sensitive topics. You can even pre-plan things like staying off sugar, strong drinks, too much coffee and stuff like this.
Scrutinize your anxious state
Can you put a finger on what it is that is troubling you? Is there a really perplexing conversation in the offing or are you thinking painfully of the impression you will produce? When you have pinpointed your most fearsome point you will be better equipped to control the situation.
Deal with your vexatious thoughts
So you have something brewing up that may get you into a huff, make it a subject of a calm conversation with yourself. Pretend you are giving support to a friend of yours. Admit that you are worried but check your thoughts for feasibility.
If you are unsure about how to set about it, begin with posing the following questions:
- Are my conclusions logical, are they borne up by any tangible evidence?
- Can there be factors that overthrow these misgivings?
- Is my thinking very much black-and-white?
- Are there any contradictory facts?
- Am I realistic in my conception of the future?
- Do I ascribe to other people thoughts without knowing whether they really think so?
- Try to envisage what may occur after what you fear came
Picture to yourself that what you are currently dreading has actually taken place – and things turned out just fine! You will certainly be laughing remembering how much on edge you had been before and comparing it to the outcome.
Go back to the past instances when you had been nervous but things came off quite well. Write down such episodes, carry this list on you and reread it whenever you are gnawed by doubts and anxieties.
Prepare your response to sensitive situations
Consider what aspects of a situation cause you anxiety. Having placed your finger on the most problematic point you will be able to prepare yourself to tackling the situation.
Let’s look into some examples of such instances:
- Nobody laughed when I cracked a joke? I can broach another topic and smooth out my awkwardness so people won’t pay attention to it.
- You feel the pressure of a noisy party and a packed place? Get out of the room outside and take a few deep breaths of fresh air.
- You cast about for the name of your interlocutor and are left at sea? Tap on your forehead and say: “Sorry, your name just slipped my memory.” Or maybe: “Sorry, your name got lost in the noise.”
Remind yourself that you have had all this before
Take a notebook and put down cases in which your grim misgivings failed to materialize. Remember your anxiety prior to the event, what you did to mitigate the difficulties of it, and what you felt after that has blown over.
Know what aspects can and cannot be controlled
Many things stir us up to an anxious state for the very reason that we have no control over them. Turning them over in our minds makes us feel a little better, as if thereby we can, by the simple dint of not letting it out of our minds, get things at hand to some extent. This feeling is absolutely spurious! While regarding factors that we can control is fruitful, chewing on factors we can’t affect is not going to get us anywhere at all.
Divide a sheet of paper into two and pen the factors that you can change on the left and the factors that are beyond your control on the right. Now you know what really requires your attention.
If you have supporters, tell them how you feel about it
While you will be sharing your prognostications and concerns with people who listen you will take the load off your mind and eliminate most of the stress.
Relate your opinions, feelings and worries to your colleagues, your partner or caring friends. The atmosphere of openness and support will certainly do you good; remind yourself of such previous instances when you felt better straightaway.
Why not let the group of close people always know your attitude to everything that happens to you?
Learn to control your breath and regulate it
You keep on breathing all the time, and your feelings influence the way you breathe. Observe how you breathe, take measures to keep it calm, controlled, rhythmic and relaxed. You can do that always, in any place and in any given situation.
Learn some breathing exercises and practice them
Breathing exercises is something you can engage in any time, any place. Get a couple of such on board and make them a part of your functioning. You can find two examples here.
4-7-8 breathing: Breathe in through the nose to the count of four. Then count to 7 holding your breath, and start to breathe out slowly to the figure of eight. Your count should run not according to the watch but at a clip that would feel comfortable. Repeat it as often as you can.
Square breathing: Breathe in to the count of four. As you hold your breath, count to four again, and then again as you breathe out. Before you breathe in again let another count of four elapse.
Hum or sing
Stress is bound to put you in the “fight or flight” mode; breathing gets you out of it. Another thing that helps is humming. Humming induces parasympathetic dominance, in other words, your body begins to relax. Meanwhile, your vagus nerve receives positive stimulation. What’s even better, anyone can hum employing a helpful technique!
Play a song, hum to it and register your sensations. Since humming goes to prolong every breath it can help you with your breathing practices and provide you with an incredibly easy anti-stress technique any time you need it!
Take cold showers
As researchers confirm, cold showers are apt to make us feel better by increasing the endorphin level. Simultaneously, we alleviate the stressful condition because the cortisol level drops. While endorphins go up and cortisol goes down, we begin to lose the edge of depression and anxiety.
People who make it their habitual practice state that after a cold shower they feel more energetic, empowered to take on mental and situational issues.
Some people who regularly practice contrast showers find that it helps them manage stress and anxiety more effectively. However, the effects on stress and anxiety can vary from person to person. For some people, the extreme temperature changes may be too uncomfortable to handle, leading to increased stress and anxiety rather than relief.
So, listen to your body and proceed with caution, especially if you have any underlying health conditions. The cold part shouldn’t be too cold to bear!
As you fear what’s coming, look around for possible benefits of the expected negative outcome
There often are hidden benefits, even if they are almost negligent! When your ex throws a party and you are invited, don’t let it get you down! Go – at the very least enjoy the revelry. Then, you can show that you have got over it, you are thriving and moving on, putting an extra feather in your hat. Such benefits might not be obvious, but if you go looking for them, they can be unearthed.
Try to move on the negative side of things
Nobody likes to dwell on the seamy side, but there’s nothing to hinder us from giving it a try. Why not picture the worst consequences there can ever be? Take a few minutes to write about things that can derail you and come to terms with them. Then burn the list or cut it into small pieces and throw away.
Practice grounding techniques
Grounding is what gets you involved with the present moment – and if you have achieved that, it can erase your sad memories, depressive emotions, thoughts about how bad all this can be, and quieten as you get immersed in the now. There are techniques engaging one, two or even more of your senses. We find Emma McAdam’s grounding tips really helpful in calming anxiety:
Switch on the right perspective
You don’t live only in this month/season/year. Look upon your whole lifespan as it is affected by the anticipated mischance; how it can impact the lives of your family members. It may just happen that when you will observe the situation in a wider perspective it might lose some of the urgency.