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How to Manage Anticipatory Anxiety

anticipatory anxiety in Colorado

While anxiety is something many of you are aware of, and likely experience in some way at least occasionally, anticipatory anxiety might be something that isn’t named as often in your conversations about mental health and the experience of anxiety.

What Is Anticipatory Anxiety?

Anticipatory anxiety is something that I’ve experienced in the past and still navigate from time to time, especially when tasked with doing something new or anticipating being in a new environment or around new people.

For example, in my first semester of graduate school, I had a lot of anticipatory anxiety showing up—almost constantly. It would often show up around my performance in my classes and coursework.

I would be writing a paper and finding myself feeling unable to focus and thinking, what if I can’t finish this paper on time? Am I even approaching this paper in the right way? What if I fail this class and I can’t graduate on time? What will happen if I graduate late? And on and on my mind spiraled.

So in short, anticipatory anxiety is a form of anxiety that occurs in anticipation of a stressful moment or event—fixating on the possibilities of what could happen or what you could feel in the future.

Signs You may Experiencing Anticipatory Anxiety

Anticipatory anxiety can affect everyone in different ways

The signs of anticipatory anxiety, like general anxiety, may show up anytime, but it’s likely that symptoms of anticipatory anxiety may show up in preparation for a social event, an upcoming deadline, or simply when you’re thinking about the future or a hypothetical situation.

  • Fixating on worst-case scenarios

  • Feeling restless or irritable

  • Ruminating about what could happen

  • Canceling plans last minute

  • Isolating yourself from friends or family

While the above symptoms are quite common, it’s important to consider that the experience of anxiety can look different for everyone. Therefore, you should consider discussing your experiences along with symptoms with a licensed therapist.

A Few Tips for Managing Anticipatory Anxiety

  1. Write a stream of consciousness about the fear and anxiety that’s coming up. This can be a practice that helps you to get out of your head and to gain some distance from the stressors that may be triggering the anxiety.

  2. Incorporate mindfulness practices to help ground yourself in the present moment.

  3. Talk with a licensed Denver therapist. While anxiety is often felt in our bodies, addressing the parts inside of you that are anxious, can reduce anxiety symptoms. Plus, you can work with your therapist to build a toolkit to manage anxiety when it shows up.

When to Reach Out for Support from an Anxiety Therapist in Colorado

If something, whether it’s anxiety or other mental health concerns, is taking up a lot of headspace or it’s something you’re concerned about, it’s worth reaching out for support. Especially if the anticipatory anxiety is becoming overwhelming, it may be helpful to talk to a licensed mental health therapist.

Work With a Denver Anxiety Specialist

At Catalyss Counseling, we have a team of therapists who can support you If you're ready to start treating your anticipatory anxiety. Call or contact us today to set up a complimentary phone consultation to learn more about our team and next steps.

How We Can Help

we are launching our affordable counseling program in January 2023!

Check out our Affordable Counseling Program that offers counseling services at a lower cost. We have intern therapist students who specialize in anxiety!


If you are looking for general support, or if you would like to talk to someone more about how we can help you, follow these simple steps:

  1. Contact us today for a free 20-minute phone consultation

  2. Or, you can book directly online with the therapist of your choice

  3. Begin your journey towards a calmer, more relaxed life

Other Therapy Services Available at Catalyss Counseling:

Here at Catalyss Counseling, we want to meet all of your counseling needs in the Denver area. Our supportive therapists provide depression counseling, therapy for caregiver stress, grief and loss therapy, stress management counseling and more. We also have specialists in trauma and PTSD, women's issues, pregnancy and postpartum depression or anxiety, pregnancy loss and miscarriage, and birth trauma. For therapists, we can also provide clinical supervision! We look forward to connecting with you to help support your journey today.

Author Biography

Julie Bloom is a student intern from the Regis University Masters in Counseling program. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

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