Life is full of stressful events. Examples include job interviews, medical appointments, and legal situations that require you to go to court.
These are just a few of the millions of stressful events people face on a daily basis.
If you have an upcoming event that you know will be stressful, what can you do to prepare?
The following are some ways to prepare to walk into something that’s anxiety or stress-producing.
When you have a stressful event looming on the horizon for you, it can cause something called meta-stress.
Meta-stress means you’re worrying about stress in advance of something actually happening.
Sometimes stress hits us out of nowhere and can actually end up being more difficult to deal with than anticipating something that will be stressful.
If you can prepare, that already gives you an advantage so start to reframe your thinking and put that in perspective.
Anticipation can seem worse, but you can adjust based on the idea that you have the time you need to get ready for whatever is coming your way.
As you work to put the event you’re dreading into perspective, remember that it’s likely something you’ll just have to do once. For example, if you have to go to court for any reason, civil or criminal, just think that once it’s done, it’s done.
Whether this strategy works for you depends on your personality, but some people find it helpful to outline the worst-case scenarios of any given situation specifically. If you’re prepared for those, and you’ve evaluated just how bad those would be, you may feel better prepared.
Often, even if we dread something, the worst-case scenarios aren’t that bad after all.
Are You Dreading Something Because You Aren’t Confident?
Many times we feel dread about possibly stressful situations because of a lack of personal confidence.
Find strategies to boost your confidence as you head into something difficult.
A good way to boost your confidence is to find one element, even if it’s a small one, in your situation that you can control.
Maybe if you’re facing a court case, to go back to that example, you think about the control you have in hiring the best lawyer. You can’t control the complete outcome of your situation, but you can focus all your energy on that factor you can control.
Stay Physically Healthy
Stress is very much a physical response our body and brain have. While you can’t control every external factor in a high-stress situation, you have control over your body’s response and how you physically feel.
Keep this in mind leading up to something you aren’t looking forward to dealing with.
When you’re conscious of your health, not only is it helping you manage physical and mental stress, but it’s also giving you a sense of control over something in your life.
To stay physically healthy in the lead-up to something difficult, first and foremost, try to avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine as much as you can.
Stimulants raise your stress level, and too much caffeine can increase your anxiety and even cause panic attacks.
Don’t rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms like alcohol either. Many people find that while initially, they may feel more relaxed, alcohol actually causes them to experience negative mental health symptoms including depression and anxiety.
Put your attention on healthy coping mechanisms like exercise or meditation.
If you’re feeling like you’re ruminating or going around and around in your mind about something upcoming, break the cycle by going outside and doing something active. Even just a 20-minute walk or jog can help you shift your thought patterns.
Write it Down
You can keep a stress journal, which many people find works well as a coping mechanism.
Write down what you’re feeling and how it’s affecting you.
Then, you can look at your stress patterns and hopefully find more effective ways to deal with them.
This will, again, give you more of a sense of control too.
Finally, lean on your support system of friends or family. Don’t internalize all the stress that you might be experiencing. Reach out when you need to share.
If you don’t have a support system or don’t feel comfortable talking about what you’re going through, a counselor can help you manage your feelings. A counselor can also help you identify coping mechanisms that are positive and will work for you.