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Cold Feet? How To Deal With Anxiety Before Your Big Day

It could be a job interview, a big test, giving a speech, a first date, or even your wedding day! You get to decide what is and isn’t a “big deal.” What all of these events have in common is the potential to inspire anxiety. If you’re already struggling with an anxiety disorder, that could go double.

You might be nervous, sweaty, or unable to sleep the night before. A range of worst-case scenarios is racing through your mind. How in the world can you overcome so much worrying? Well, remember, you are not alone and you can warm up your cold feet.

What is Anticipatory Anxiety?

It’s not a specific diagnosis and is often an offshoot of an existing anxiety disorder — often social anxiety. Anticipatory anxiety crops up when a future event or situation has you excessively stressed. A little nervousness is typical. If you find yourself unable to think of anything else, it’s probably anticipatory anxiety.

Common Symptoms of Anticipatory Anxiety

  • Feelings of dread
  • Jumpiness
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Restlessness
  • Expecting the worst
  • Shaky hands/shaky voice
  • Extreme perspiration
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Digestive problems

photo of a wedding cakeHow To Deal With Anxiety Before Your Big Day

Practice Daily Self-Care

This is standard advice under any circumstance. When struggling with anticipatory anxiety, self-care becomes especially critical. Some factors to consider:

  • Safeguard your eating habits: Limit food or drinks that make anxiety worse (e.g. sugar, alcohol, junk food, and caffeine)
  • Maintain regular sleep patterns: This is foundational
  • Daily exercise and physical movement: Proven to enhance mental and physical health
  • Practice relaxation techniques: Try yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, mellow music, visualization, and more
  • Keep a journal: Monitor your triggers, your responses, and what you did to calm yourself (this journal will be useful in therapy)

Running parallel to your self-care regimen is your state of mind. Be patient with yourself. Engage in self-compassion and resist judging yourself harshly for feeling anxious.

Control What You Can Control

Anticipatory anxiety can spiral when you feel out of control. A powerful step to address this before it begins is to identify what is and isn’t within your influence. Take charge of the moment by focusing solely on what you can control. For example, if you’re feeling stressed about a job interview, ask someone to role-play with you to get more comfortable with the dynamic.

Challenge Your Negative Thoughts

A thought isn’t a fact. When anxiety tells you a lie, you can challenge this fake news. Replace that negative energy with positive affirmations. Give yourself a pep talk! Splash a little cold water on your face to stimulate the vagus nerve and shift your point of view.

Change Your Perspective

Re-read the list of symptoms above. Now, what if you chose to identify that list as signs of preparation? You’re excited about your big deal and part of that experience might be some temporarily uncomfortable side effects. In the end, however, the journey is fun. The experience that’s waiting at the end of the journey is something to look forward to.

Reach Out to Talk and Ask For Help

Humans are social creatures. We’re designed to problem-solve collectively. Take advantage of this reality to get support from friends, family members, online groups, etc. It can be quite helpful to learn how many others get cold feet before a big deal.

At the same time, if the anticipatory anxiety feels like more than you can handle, therapy is a proven option. Your weekly sessions are a safe space and a workshop. Under the guidance of a mental health professional, you can identify underlying patterns and new solutions. Let’s connect and talk more about this soon in anxiety therapy.

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