Anticipatory Anxiety


You feel overwhelming dread and fear about an upcoming presentation at work or school. Your anxiety is off the charts when you think about how bad traffic will be on your drive home. You find yourself fearful of encountering anything that could spark your anxiety. If this sounds like you, you may experience anticipatory anxiety. 

Common in those with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder, anticipatory anxiety shows up and creates fear about situations that haven’t happened yet. Essentially, anticipatory anxiety can be summed up as “anxiety about anxiety.” And if you experience it, you already know that it’s as dreadful as it sounds.

Dread vs Anticipatory Anxiety

It’s normal and common for us to dread mundane or stressful tasks like paying bills, finishing our most hated chores, or having difficult conversations. Feeling dread about the things we don’t enjoy or that stress us out is normal.

But when that dread turns into anticipatory anxiety, we find ourselves slipping into an unhelpful spiral of anxiety. So what’s the difference between the two? Dread is a sense of dislike and taking steps of avoidance or procrastination. But anticipatory anxiety comes with a sense of doom, feelings of panic, racing thoughts, heart palpitations, and so much more. 

Anticipatory Anxiety: anxiety about anticipated fear, anxiety, or stress

So How Do I Deal?

So you’re dealing with anticipatory anxiety… But now you’re wondering how do I cope with anticipatory anxiety? 

  • Use Grounding Techniques never heard of grounding before? I’ve got you covered in this blog post. Deep breathing and mindfulness exercises are my personal favorites, especially for coping with anxiety.
  • Grab a Journal & Write – journal about your feelings, the triggers of anticipatory anxiety, and any patterns you notice. Writing our emotions down helps us better cope with them.
  • Talk to a Therapist – bonus points if it’s a therapist who specializes in anxiety! If you happen to live in Tennessee, I’d love to chat. If you aren’t located in TN, but are still interested in starting therapy, I highly recommend seeking out a therapist in your area using Therapy Den. 

A more meaningful life
is closer than you realize
And it’s worth pursuing

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