If you suffer from situational anxiety, then you’re not alone. Many people experience a sudden jolt of fear and heightened stress when faced with a worrisome situation or change. Anticipating the anxiety itself can cause even more stress, which only makes the situation that much worse. However, there are various ways to manage situation-based anxiety that are simple. These seven tips on how to cope with situational anxiety can help you manage stress and start confronting scary situations with courage.
7 Tips on How to Cope With Situational Anxiety
Circumstantial or situational anxiety disorder occurs as a response to a particular situation. This form of anxiety is pretty common, and almost everyone has situations that they’d consider to be legitimately anxiety-inducing.
Some situational anxiety examples we see the most include job interviews, “first days,” attending social events, first dates, and flying on airplanes. Although situational anxiety is not the same as a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), it can still be frustrating when you can’t seem to remain calm in a particular situation, no matter how many times you go through it.
If you can relate, there are seven tips below that can help you to cope with situational anxiety symptoms.
#1 Be Realistic About the Situation
Anxiety-inducing situations aren’t always as stressful as they seem. Oftentimes, our anxiety is the result of us thinking about the worst-case scenario. We immediately jump to the conclusion that the worst will happen, and boom, anxiety takes hold.
It’s crucial in moments that tend to cause you anxiety that you reevaluate the situation, especially if you’ve experienced them before. Once you take a glass-half-full rather than half-empty approach to the situation, it won’t seem as bad the next time.
Although this one might seem a little obvious, sometimes we forget to breathe when we’re presented with a stressful situation. Sometimes we hold our breaths in literal anticipation of what could happen.
Research shows that certain breathing techniques help us physically and mentally relax in stressful and anxiety-inducing moments, so as obvious as it may seem to breathe, there are different ways you can do it.
One breathing technique you can try is belly breathing. Find a comfortable, quiet place to lay down or sit. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other hand on your belly below your ribcage.
Relax your belly and breathe in slowly through your nose. Your stomach should rise with your other hand and fall inward toward your spine. Exhale slowly through slightly pursed lips. Do this three to four times a day for 10 to 30 minutes.
#3 Face Your Fears
Often, anxiety about a situation can occur simply because we aren’t prepared or don’t have any idea what to expect. A great way to challenge these fears is to face them.
Exposing yourself to the particular situation you fear can help you slowly become accustomed to it. The goal is to eventually be able to face this situation without experiencing anxiety.
Exposure therapy is a gradual approach that people may take to overcome certain mental health symptoms. Start slowly, maybe by thinking about the situation that makes you anxious, and then gradually work your way to actually facing the situation.
#4 Develop a Routine
Once you understand what kind of situations make you the most anxious, you can adopt certain strategies to reduce this feeling even before you’re placed in said situation. One of the most common ways to do this is to create a “pre-performance routine.”
This is basically a dress rehearsal for whatever it is you’re preparing for, but without the outfit change (unless that would help). The goal is to go through the motions of the feared situation until it’s no longer as scary.
Familiarity greatly reduces anxiety, stress, and fear in many situations, so it’s understandable why this exercise can be so beneficial to someone with situational anxiety.
#5 Tell a Friend
Is there someone you like to spend time with that can ease your mind in stressful situations? Ask them to tag along with you if they can.
For instance, if you’re going to a job interview, ask them to go with you and have them sit outside while you’re meeting with your potential new employer. Just knowing that they’re out there can help reduce your stress and anxiety.
Having a close friend or companion who can accompany you to other stressful situations like doctor’s appointments, funerals, court dates, and even social events can comfort you because you’re with someone familiar. Having someone you know and trust around can also encourage you to speak and socialize and reduce any awkwardness you may feel.
#6 Have an Escape Route
When coping with situational anxiety, a lot of the stress we experience is the result of us feeling trapped. However, creating an “escape route” or a plan B can reduce this stress.
Come up with an alternate plan that accomplishes the goal more comfortably. For instance, let’s say you have your annual check-up with your doctor, but you’re too nervous about going in person, and your go-to companion is busy.
If you don’t have any pressing concerns, ask if you can meet with your doctor over video chat or on the phone. Thanks to the advancements in telehealth and telemedicine, you can often connect with your physician without having to leave your home.
However, remember that plan B is not plan A. At some point, it’s important to gradually expose yourself to these situations, so you become accustomed to managing the anxiety they produce.
#7 Speak to a Professional
For some people, situational anxiety is paralyzing, and if it begins to happen even outside of the feared situation, then there may be a more serious problem at hand. If all else fails, consider speaking to a mental health professional about your symptoms or seek out a mental health program, such as anxiety treatment.
Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to seek out help for your mental health. Remember that dealing with anticipatory anxiety or situational anxiety is common, and mental health specialists treat all degrees of anxiety with compassion and thoroughness.
Get Help for Anxiety Today
Our rehab in Boca Raton, Florida, offers inpatient mental health treatment for a variety of disorders, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, and more. Our team is composed of trained and certified specialists with years of experience helping people learn how to manage their symptoms and understand their disorders so they can live happier and more productive lives.
For more information about our in-person and telehealth mental health services at our Boca Raton Banyan rehab, you can call Banyan Treatment Centers at 888-280-4763 or simply visit our facility in person. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.