By: Cordelia Bloom
Before jumping right into the article, please enjoy this microfiction insert:
My heart is pounding, my chest hurts. I think I’m on the verge of another—I need to remember to breathe. Just breathe. My hands are clammy. I look around uneasily as I tinker with the adjustments of a thermometer. I see pale, white walls; a height and weight scale, located next to a human diagram. Why is it always freezing here?
The door opens. The doctor walks in slowly and carefully takes a seat, “Gemma, I’m afraid I have some bad news.”
I shrug my shoulders and cover my face. Why do I bother? My heart feels heavy. I can no longer breathe. I’m shaking. I don’t want to know. I shiver, look up and nod. She holds my hands, “Your scanned results show positive for advanced spinal muscular atrophy.”
And my heart drops, silencing every thought. Pure, utter stillness. What will I do when, in fact, I’ll soon forget how to speak, walk and… breathe? My chest tightens, I need to remember to breathe.
Suddenly, a door opens abruptly, breaking me away from my trance. I’m startled. I blink repeatedly.
“Apologies for the wait, Gemma. Are you alright?” The doctor asks.
I smiled with a frightened look, “Yes. Did the final results come in?”
She sits and leans forward. Grabs my hands, “Indeed, and you’re perfectly healthy.”
I sighed loudly and cried instantly.
Experiencing Overwhelming Fears of Uncertainty?
This strenuous sense of dread is also referred to as anticipation anxiety. Healthline Magazine describes it as the reason behind the worries of all things out of our control, that haven’t happened. How many times have we panicked over an upcoming meeting with a superior; or maybe that tough conversation to be had with a partner or a parent? Or, like our friend Gemma mentioned above, how many times have we imagined worse-case scenarios? The list can get extensive, but needless to say, we’ve all been there at least once.
It’s quite normal to worry, but if we’re not careful, the tendency can impact our day-to-day—it can range from an uneasy feeling or nervousness to an enfeebling sense of uncertainty. Dr Timothy J. Legg—a licensed psychologist, and geriatric and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner—confirmed that the following symptoms are signs that trigger anticipation anxiety:
- Difficulty concentrating or sleeping
- Mismanaging emotions or moods
- Emotional numbness, sensitivity, or irritability
- Loss of interest in hobbies, exercise, or appetite
- Jumpiness or restlessness
- Muscle tension and/or pain
There’s hope for all of us yet, though! Now that we’re able to identify red flags within, we can cope in several ways with our constant fear of “over-worrying.”
Be Centered in the Here and Now
One of the most effective ways to reel yourself back in, is to notice (any) details of your surroundings. This activates (or wakes up) your senses, anchoring you to the present. Drawing our focus on a single task also helps! This enhances our levels of productivity, concentration and long-term retention.
Another quick way to stay present is to practice gratitude. There’s no too big or too small of a thing to be thankful for. It’s important to accept them as they are.
Dr. Rachel Goldman—a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker and wellness expert—attests that surrounding yourself with people who make you happy centers your persona. If they happen to also practice breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, and yoga, they most certainly need to be kept nearby. It’s proof that encircling ourselves by those who fulfill and support us, keeps us in the present.
Strive to Savor Each Moment
As human beings, we are meant to worry on a daily basis. It’s natural! Again, much like our dear friend Gemma mentioned above—wouldn’t it have been best if she would’ve stayed present while waiting for her medical results? Instead, she imagined a worse-case scenario, which ultimately provoked an anxiety attack.
It’s our responsibility to check-in when necessary to stay grounded. Present-moment awareness can maximize life. We must stay in-tuned with ourselves and keep a gentle mindset. By creating this sense of consciousness, we’ll develop inner strength, learn to control our anticipated worries, and essentially feel relief. By feeling relieved, we’re taking back control.
Why wait? Let’s start taking accountability right now: What’s troubling you? How will you ground yourself? Journal with The Love Story right now by clicking on the link below and share your thoughts.
Cuncic, A. MA & Goldman, R. (2021, November 10). How do you live in the present? VerywellMind. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-do-you-live-in-the-present-5204439
Ferguson, S. & Boyle, K. (2022, September 11). How to live in the moment and be more present. PsychCentral. https://psychcentral.com/blog/what-it-really-means-to-be-in-the-present-moment
Langshur, E. & Klemp, N. (2021, December 22). How present-moment awareness can make life more meaningful. Mindful. https://www.mindful.org/how-present-moment-awareness-can-make-life-more-meaningful/
Raypole, C. & Legg, T. J. (2020, March 17). Meet anticipatory anxiety, the reason you worry about things that haven’t happened yet. HealthlineMagazine. https://www.healthline.com/health/anticipatory-anxiety