Anticipatory Anxiety: What Is It and How Do You Stop It?

By definition:

Anticipatory anxiety is where a person experiences increased levels of anxiety by thinking about an event or situation in the future. Rather than being a specific disorder in its own right, anticipatory anxiety is a symptom commonly found in a number of anxiety related conditions, such as generalized anxiety. Anticipatory Anxiety can be extremely draining for people as it can last for months prior to an event. The worries people experience specifically focus on what they think might happen, often with catastrophic predictions about an event. The nature of negative predictions about the event will be the difference between an anxiety level that is incapacitating or merely uncomfortable.

as defined by Anxiety UK

A friend recently reached out to me prior to her drive from Cincinnati to Chicago to inquire about mindfulness practices. As she spoke, she talked about her fears of traveling alone, the possibility of heavy traffic, not knowing where she was going once she arrived in Chicago, and the known fact that she would be driving over bridges. All of which were causing her to experience heightened anxiety. I love it that she reached out to me, trauma-warrior research guru that I am, to discuss options.

I advised her to begin practicing mindfulness as that is my favorite go-to when experiencing anticipatory anxiety. I just happen to be working through my own bout with that pesky little symptom of my C-PTSD right now. We are preparing for a trip to Denver to visit my oldest son. While I am super pumped to see his cute face and the beauty of Colorado, I am also fretting flying, the high elevations, and being far from home.

I am well aware of these fears and why they are present, after my four year stint in EMDR therapy, so I honor their presence and just notice them without judgment. I remind myself these are physiological responses triggered by chemical surges in my brain in relation to past traumatic events. I am working at re-wiring my brain and creating new neural pathways, but that is still a work in process.

Think: brain pep talks! Do what scares you, Teri. You got this, girl!

My personal anticipatory anxiety goes something like this:

Lying in bed. Thinking about staying at The Grand Hyatt in downtown Denver with its rooftop pool and tennis courts. Then my knees start to sweat. Rooftop pool? How does that water not crack the roof and cause the building to crumble? Is there a guardrail? How high is it? Will I be able to ride the elevator up there? Will I feel it swaying? I swear, if that kid of ours goes near the edge, my heart will stop. I wonder how the drive is from the airport? I’m hoping we aren’t in heavy traffic. Especially on a busy highway. I’ll have to sit in the back. You should check out the city and enjoy it, Teri. No. What if you have a panic attack. You haven’t had one of those in a long time.

That all transpires in a mater of seconds. Ah, the joys of racing thoughts. But, then I reach into my coping skills tool box and start to pull out my calming strategies and redirect my thinking.

Deep breath. Closing my eyes slowly, I savor that breath. Now another. A smile creeps into the corners of my mouth. Another breath follows, even deeper. I reach over and grab a grounding stone lying bedside. I love this stone. It’s cool to the touch. And heavy in my hand. So smooth. Other than that rough little edge where it dropped into the gravel on a hike once. I wonder sometimes how long it might take for me to rub it smooth again. My fingers engage in their rhythmic dance along that edge.I’m excited to walk the one block trek from our hotel to the 16th Street Mall. I’ll let John pick a fun restaurant since he’s now a Denver pro. My sweet boy. The best hugger ever. Looking forward to that hug. If something triggers some anxiety, I’ll just hold onto his arm. He knows how to help his momma stay grounded. So blessed to have these children in my life. This trip is going to be amazing. I am going to savor every one of my senses. The sights of the city and atop the mountains in Estes Park. The tastes of new eateries. I wonder how crisp the air will be without Cincinnati humidity? I look forward to breathing it in, smelling The Rocky Mountain flora. We will definitely need to rent a boat on the lake so I can feel the cool water mist splashing onto my face. Oh, to hear the laughter of my children as they catch up with one another after months apart.

My anticipatory anxiety is now silenced. Perhaps it will poke its annoying head out of hiding again. But, I know how to put it in its place.

Back to my friend who was traveling to Chicago.

She called me today as she drove back home to Cincy. I was happy to hear her voice sounding perky. When I asked about her trip, she replied, “Oh, Teri, it was wonderful!” Yay! I then inquired about the six hour drive. She spent the next thirty-one minutes telling me about the strategies she used throughout her trip. How she brought along one of her stuffed otters someone had gifted her from the Cincinnati Zoo, having stuffed the little guy into a pocket of her purse, and reaching for him to touch the softness as she approached a sky-way bridge into the city. She discussed the pep talks she gave herself, You’re fine. You’re doing great. Just stay focused on your lane. The songs she sang along with and the phone calls she made in order to pass the time and keep her mind re-directed from anxious thoughts.

Her friend lives on the fortieth floor of a high-rise condo overlooking Navy Pier so her fear of heights was another anticipatory anxiety. She explained how the elevator ride was smooth and quick and her friend kept the shades shut in the bedroom in order to allow her to settle in. She took stunning photos of the scenery from forty floors above the city streets, but avoided stepping onto the balcony. Honoring her needs. I love that.

She also challenged herself to new adventures, such as an architecture tour of the city from a boat cruising along the Chicago River. Her friend praised her for how well she was doing throughout their escapades. She even watched the fireworks display through the windows of her friend’s condo upon returning from their day of tours and sight-seeing. She told me she continued to use mindfulness techniques to shake off her anxieties and enjoy the present moment. Again, I love this!

Mindfulness as defined by me: reminding myself to re-direct any old habitual scary thought patterns back to this moment, right here, right now, and all the joyous beauty to be found in it by use of my senses. I open myself up to all things smile-inducing in this moment in time.

So, how do you stop anticipatory anxiety? Practice mindfulness. As often as possible. Soon you will be living mindfully aware. And anticipatory anxiety may try to sneak in a word or two, but you can mindfully remind it to sit down and shut up. You have a beautiful life to enjoy without its input.

Overcoming C-PTSD: Five Physical Strategies for Derailing Overwhelming Symptoms

by Teri Wellbrock

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While I have an overflowing tool box of coping skills to utilize whenever those terrifying symptoms of my C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) pop up, I have recently been focusing specifically on keeping them at bay by using my new “I am lean, I am strong” mantra. I have been on a mission to make myself feel stronger physically along with the added perk of trimming my menopausal waistline. I am amazed by how much stronger I feel mentally and psychologically as a side-effect of my new attitude and regimen.

Following is a list of ways I have been proactively taking more healing strides in my life. Literally.

Smartwatch

My Fitbit Versa, coordinating phone app, and chosen clock face on the watch all keep me motivated and moving. I have set reminders for myself to move at least 250 steps per hour. That keeps me from sitting too long at my computer while at the office (I have a stand-up desk in my home office, but not at my company office . . . more on that in a moment).

I recently bumped my daily step goal to 11,000. And I’m doing it! I grab our therapy dog, Sammie, and head out for a hike at our local nature preserve almost daily (Sammie is afraid of water falling from the sky so we stay indoors on rainy days). Those nature hikes are challenging yet so unbelievably peaceful. Birds chirping, frogs croaking, breezes rustling. I truly find it soul-quenching.

I even hit my goal on The Fourth of July amid a pool party at a friend’s place and family movie night. If I have a few thousand steps to go to make it to 10,000 for the day, I’ll turn on some music in our backyard and walk laps around our pool, while the dogs lounge in the grass curiously watching me move along my oval path.

My trick ankle is less swollen, my wobbly knees are stronger, my resting heart rate is lower, and my anxiety symptoms are staying further and further away. Yay!

I am lean. I am strong.

Swimming

We are blessed to have a beautiful in-ground pool in our idyllic backyard. We are known in our community for hosting movie parties for families. I’ve lost track of the amount of times someone has commented how our little slice of paradise reminds them of being on vacation. There’s a tiki hut, trampoline, gardens, bird feeders, an island marker sign, Adirondack chairs surrounding a fire pit in the sand, cushioned chairs under a canopy umbrella, and even a Florida Marlin hanging on the back fence.

Luckily our summer weather is usually sunny and hot so our water temperature in the pool stays in the mid-eighties. Positively delightful for evening swims. I have recently discovered if I run in the water, my waterproof Fitbit actually counts the steps. Another way to reach my step goal while moving other muscles as I work to keep myself afloat.

Engaging my teenage daughter in swimming races helps keep me moving toward my lean and strong goal. All the while, helping my body regulate itself. Thereby keeping me calmer and empowered when triggered. Creating this sanctuary as part of our home was purposeful as I have utilized it often when needing grounding. From placing my hand on our sturdy maple tree to digging my hands into the soil while I garden or just sitting quietly while practicing mindfulness exercises. It all helps me keep those C-PTSD symptoms in check.

I am lean. I am strong. I am grounded.

Gym

Joining a new gym which recently opened close to our home was a family venture. We toured it together and made a commitment to our health as a group effort. We even signed up with a personal trainer just to assess our individual needs and discover ways we could kick-start ourselves into healthier choices.

I love the water yoga classes in the warm-water pool, although I have yet to attempt the cold-water lap pool. I think I’m a bit too spoiled by our sun-kissed water at home. I am trying out new exercise classes such as Pilates and a kick-ass Metabolic Strength session. Yoga is always a perk, as well. I’m looking forward to trying Zumba again, too.

A sampling of available classes at our local gym include: group cycling, cardio muscle, cardio kickboxing, TRX circuit, Barre circuit, various yoga choices, aqua arthritis, core cardio in the pool, and many more. Plus, I try to warm up on the stair stepper, rowing machine, or treadmill. Our trainer taught us about the medicine ball, balance balls, weight machines, free weights, and more. I love the idea of strengthening my body.

My favorite activity, however, has to be my almost daily treks to the track with our daughter. I love, love, love the fact that this kiddo comes to me every day and asks, “Can we go to the track and then shoot hoops in the gym?” How cool is that? I get to hang out with my thirteen-year-old and compete with her for steps on our Fitbits then help her with basketball drills as we continue working up a sweat in the air-conditioned gym.

I am lean. I am strong. I am grounded. I am motivated.

(And teaching this girl to feel strong, too.)

Biking

I had an old beat up mountain bike with tires that deflated once a week. It served me well when my older kids were little. How many times I attached their carrier to the back of that bike and took them on riding adventures through campgrounds and our neighborhood streets.

Last year I decided it was time to treat myself to a new ride! So I actually went test-driving new bikes. We have a little shop a few miles from my office that touts themselves as one of the oldest bicycle shops in the United States. Pretty cool.

They were quite patient with me as I took one by one by one out for a spin. Then I saw THE one. I had to have it. Not because of the price. Or the design. Or the speed. Or the accessories. Why? Because of the color. Ha! This mint green bike made me feel like I was back on my favorite island, cruising along under the droopy Spanish Moss. It is the cutest bike I’ve ever seen. I actually smiled at it this morning as I hopped into my car to head off to work.

We have a bike trail close by that stretches seventy miles. Not that I’ve ever ridden the entire length of it. Although I did train for a half-marathon on it and walked 13.2 miles of it back in 2010. It’s a beautiful trail surrounded by trees and rivers and quiet neighborhoods. It even runs through the fun little city of Loveland, Ohio, lined with breweries, shops, and restaurants along that stretch.

The joy I find in biking is that it gives me the ability to move faster than my fifty-something-year-old legs can travel on their own. The biking wind tickles my skin and I can’t help but smiles as I glide along the trail.

However, I also am quite mindful in my rides. I stumbled upon the sweetest little snail attempting to make his way across the hot asphalt a few weeks ago. I stopped to find a leaf, let him slooooooowly climb on board, then moved him off into the woods to cool off. I think he winked a thank you my way.

I am lean. I am strong. I am grounded. I am motivated. I am happy.

Standing Desk

I promised I would loop back around on this one. I am standing at mine in my home office (a.k.a. sacred writing space) right now. When I take a moment to contemplate an idea or search my brain for a word, I swing my hips back and forth, letting my arms move in rhythm. More heart rate, more muscle tone, more steps registered. Leaner and stronger. Calmer and more grounded.

There’s the blessing of being surrounded by my meditative music, the scent of an iced almond chai candle burning, and lots of angel paintings and figurines smiling at me as I move in this space.

Research shows the benefits of standing desks to be: lowering health risks, increasing energy, and improve productivity, among other positive results. See the article 7 Benefits of a Standing Desk. I know, for myself, my hip pain from sitting for prolonged periods of time (a drawback of being a writer, podcaster, and business owner) has been reduced drastically since I started using a standing desk.

Plus, when I’m already standing, if a great song comes on my 80’s station on Pandora, I can break right into dance. Hopefully I’m not scaring the neighbors too much with my disco moves.

I am lean. I am strong. I am grounded. I am motivated. I am happy. I am a dancing machine.

I wish you peace along your healing journey. I hope you find your positive affirmations that keep you motivated and moving. If you want to borrow mine, just remember . . . you are lean, you are strong, you are grounded, you are motivated, you are happy, and you are a dancing machine!

Dr. Amir Rashidian: The StressProof Life

Welcome to The Healing Place Podcast! I am your host, Teri Wellbrock. You can listen in on iTunesBlubrrySpotify, or directly on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com/podcasts/. You can also watch our insightful interview on YouTube.

What an insightful and eye-opening conversation I shared with Dr. Amir Rashidian of Mid-Atlantic Chiropractic Center. Dr. Rashidian shared his brilliant philosophies on stress, eating habits, healing, and more, along with his personal story of hope and healing.

Bio:

Dr. Amir Rashidian is the founder of the Mid-Atlantic Chiropractic Center, where the focus is improving health of people through drugless solutions. He recently published ‘The StressProof Life’, which documented the real-life stories of his most memorable patients while showing the readers the secret to becoming the kind of person who is able to handle any amount of stress on that journey toward greatness.”

Find out more about Dr. Rashidian’s mission at https://www.midatlanticclinic.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/midatlanticclinic/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/MACCHealth/playlists

Amazon (link to the StressProof Life book): https://www.amazon.com/StressProof-Life-Secret-Health-Happiness/dp/0996300139/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=amir+rashidian&qid=1562101320&s=gateway&sr=8-1Website: www.MidAtlanticClinic.com

Peace to you all!
Teri

Hope for Healing Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/741bdf08d718/hope-for-healing-newsletter-may-2019

Book Launch Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/unicornshadows/