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PodcastAnticipation Anxiety

Anticipation Anxiety

All February, Dora shares how to be kinder to ourselves. Today, she'll tackle the fear that comes with thinking about the future, and how we can learn to accept whatever may happen.

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Better mental health starts with Headspace

(sand shaking) (mouse clicking) (bright music) Headspace Studio. Hello world, it's Dora and welcome to the Sunday Scaries. If you've been listening, you know that all February we're focusing on taking it a little easier on ourselves. Last week we discussed befriending the moment so check that out if you haven't already. This week we're diving into working with anticipation anxiety. Now anticipation anxiety is the stress and worry we feel when we think about something in the future, especially something new. We can't control what's gonna happen and therefore it's pretty scary. When we were younger this anticipation anxiety may have shown up the summer before going to a new school or the night before our driver's test or the week leading up to our first school dance. Unlike many things in our adolescence, anticipation anxiety is something we don't outgrow. So long as there are new things to experience there's a possibility for this anxiety to accompany it. The good news is that the older we get the better we become at acknowledging it and managing it. This came up for me recently as I was preparing for a new and exciting project where I was brought in to lead a meditation for a very popular streaming show. The entire premise of the show was that hosts create chaos which by definition is something you can't prepare for. The Sunday before the shoot, I was riddled with anticipation anxiety created from the pressure I was putting on myself to do a good job and meet my own expectations. My feelings could be best summed up as absolute dread. What were the hosts going to say? What were they going to do? Should I try to banter with them? What was my role in this? The lack of control I had in the situation was very uncomfortable and because it was so uncomfortable, I was twisting myself in knots trying to find some way to avoid sitting in the unknown and find control in an uncontrollable situation. I tried everything, ignoring it, over-preparing for it, trying to imagine every single scenario that could possibly happen and creating a plan for how I would handle it. And finally, just slowly closing my laptop. Nothing worked and I was still so uncomfortable. I ultimately was forced to lean into the dread and accept it, saying to myself, as much as I try to prepare I don't know how this is going to shake out. And I gotta tell you there's freedom and power in that acceptance. Like we talked about in a previous episode about breaking emotional patterns, when I have unwanted thoughts I try to observe and create a relationship with them using phrases like, yes there's no way for me to fully prepare for this and whatever happens, I can handle it. This helps me acknowledge what I'm feeling instead of trying to ignore it and creates an affirmation even if I don't feel like I can handle something at...


Duration8 min

About your teachers

  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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  • Eve is a mindfulness teacher, overseeing Headspace’s meditation curriculum. She is passionate about sharing meditation to help others feel less stressed and experience more compassion in their lives.

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  • As a meditation teacher, Dora encourages others to live, breathe, and be with the fullness of their experiences. She loves meditation’s power to create community and bring clarity to people’s minds.

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  • Kessonga has been an acupuncturists, therapist, and meditation teacher, working to bring mindfulness to the diverse populations of the world.

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  • Rosie Acosta has studied yoga and mindfulness for more than 20 years and taught for over a decade. Rosie’s mission is to help others overcome adversity and experience radical love.

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