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Manage Expectations to Reduce Anxiety

By Meghan Williams

When it comes to anxiety management, establishing realistic expectations for yourself and others can significantly reduce the worry and anticipation that often leads to anxiety and fear.

Ultimately, anxiety is fear of the unknown. What if I don’t make it on time? What if he doesn’t feel the same way? What if I humiliate myself? It’s all future projection that we divvy out into potential scenarios and then spin about the fact that we can’t control the outcome. What successfully managing your expectations does is provide parameters and boundaries – leaving less room for assumptions that often lead to unrealistic expectation.

Manage your own expectations first. Self-care and self-awareness is crucial to successfully navigating your bandwidth. If you genuinely don’t have time, don’t try to fit it in. So often we gravitate towards trying to please others that it comes at the expense of ourselves. If it doesn’t feel manageable, then assume it’s not. And we can usually tell. When planning our day and trying to fit something in, if it makes us feel stressed in the moment trying to formulate a plan, you can be fairly certain it will only lead to more stress when it comes to putting the plan into action. Go with your gut instinct and don’t override your self-preservation mechanism.

Learn to say no. Don’t expect to be everything to everyone. And don’t expect that your answer should always be yes. It’s OK to say no. In fact, people respect and feel more comfortable with boundaries. If they think they can walk all over you, they will and then resent you for allowing them to do so. Learn to hold your space comfortably and consistently.

Don’t overschedule yourself. Keep it real with time. This means keeping yourself at the top of your priority list. If you are running out of steam and you don’t take time to replenish and refuel, your body will force an intervention. And this will ultimately cost you more time in the long run. Learn to only schedule what seems psychologically manageable and be sure to make time for sit-down meals. Eating on the go is one of the fastest ways to throw our entire system off balance.

Celebrate your wins and cut your losses. When things don’t work out the way you planned for them to, don’t assume the worst. Instead, trust your process and know that a better way is unfolding before your very eyes. Stay open to other possibilities and avoid ruminating on things gone “wrong.”

And finally, stay flexible. Rigidity will only instigate anxiety. Don’t be so tied to outcomes that you break and don’t bend. It’s good to have a goal in mind but be able to move with the winds should a storm arise. Change isn’t always comfortable but what resists persists and if you cling too tightly, you’ll lose control.

Ultimately, it’s all about making your personal well-being your top priority. And this, in turn, will make you more available to others. Staying true to your bandwidth and managing your expectations is one of the most effective things you can do when it comes to managing your headspace.

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Meghan Williams
Transcendental Meditation Teacher
Registered Yoga Teacher