Anticipatory anxiety is where a person experiences increased levels of anxiety by thinking about an event or situation in the future. Since the presidential elections in the US, many of my clients have started to experience this phenomenon. We have previously blogged and discussed change and how it impacts peoples’ lives. This one, for many, feels much different.
There is absolutely no intention here to make a commentary on the election results but to merely report an impact reflected in a small sampling of people. Anticipatory anxiety has many of the characteristics of generalized anxiety: hypervigilance, apprehension, agitation, and avoidance. Physically a person’s body may be constricted and feel tense, which may have a disabling effect, since having a tense body may lead to problems such as hyperventilation, chest pain and muscle spasm. Anticipatory anxiety often shapes behavior as people make decisions to avoid dealing with the uncomfortable symptoms. An example is that for those people dealing with an addiction, there may be an increase in the addictive behavior to avoid the anxiety. Things have just become more complicated.
So, let’s consider where you might place your attention that could be helpful rather than harmful. There are many valuable people, places and things that would benefit from your attention. Consider taking a walk in the sunshine, reading a good book, listening to music, taking your children or pets to the park or any other hundreds of possibilities.
None of us can predict the future much less change the outcome of what is to be once a major event has been placed in motion. Once the “die is cast” the color remains. What a futile exercise that is for any human being. We are powerful but not that powerful.
So, work to get enough sleep, eat healthy, manage stress and practice relaxation. Lastly remember to watch and listen and then use your voice when you can about issues that matter to you. That’s where your power really lies.
“Anticipating pain was like enduring it twice. Why not anticipate pleasure instead?” ― Robin Hobb