Six Tips to Help When You're Feeling Anxious Waiting For Important News

Few things cause as much anxiety as having to wait for a result, a call, or some important information. If you find yourself identifying with these kinds of feelings, in this article, we offer you six simple tips to help you handle them.
Six Tips to Help When You're Feeling Anxious Waiting For Important News
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 25 December, 2021

Awaiting the results of a medical test. Having to wait a week to know whether or not you’ve passed a really important exam. Waiting to hear if you’ve got a certain job. Feeling anxious while you wait for important news is a common occurrence. Indeed, it happens to us all at some time or another.

Your mind doesn’t stop spinning and, alongside this, your emotions often turn against you. In fact, while there are times when you might feel optimistic and hopeful, before long, your thoughts tend to turn catastrophic and you start anticipating the worst. Furthermore, this type of anxiety associated with forced waiting correlates with multiple somatizations.

Stomach pain, intestinal disorders, back pain, problems falling asleep… It’s like a kind of torture from which you can’t escape. Furthermore, this psychophysical reality affects children and adults alike. What can you do about it?

A key to managing the anxiety associated with waiting is to focus on those aspects that are under your control. Relaxation techniques and meditation can also help.

suffering man suffers anxiety by waiting

Six tips to help when you’re feeling anxious waiting for important news

There’s something inherently anxious about any kind of waiting. For instance, sometimes, after a great date with someone you like, you anxiously await a message from them the next day asking for a second date. Then, there’s the anxious waiting for the results of medical tests or exams. On the other hand, there are couples waiting to conceive a child and people waiting for court judgments.

We might say that living itself means learning to wait and that existence is one big waiting room. Therefore, something that you learn pretty early in life is that you can’t control your destiny and that uncertainty will be your eternal traveling companion.

Some people handle the anxiety of waiting for important news better than others. If you’re one of those who struggle, here are some tips to help.

1. Focus on what you can control

There are times when frustration eats away at you. That’s because the thing you can’t control is the thing you’re waiting for. To handle this stressful situation, you must pay attention to what you can control. In fact, there are dozens of them, and thinking of these will help mediate your well-being.

Starting from your reality and your specific problem, calmly analyze what elements you can handle. For example, you can control your emotions. Therefore, you can start with emotional management.

2. Trust yourself: Believe that, whatever the result, you’ll be able to face it

When you’re feeling anxious waiting for important news, you need to activate your self-confidence. You can’t control your destiny. Furthermore, as you well know, simply wanting something to happen isn’t much use.

Something that always helps in this regard is to think that, whatever the result, you’ll be able to face it and cope with it. Whether it’s good or bad.

Regardless of the resolution of your wait, the most important thing is to believe that you can face whatever comes your way.

3. Being positive always helps (but don’t be too naive)

There’s never any shortage of people who’ll point out that the right thing to do is to ‘prepare for the worst’. However, all that approach achieves is intensifying the discomfort.

Dr. Kyla Rankin and Dr. Kate Sweeny, professors of psychology at the University of California, who specialize in anxiety about waiting, conducted a study on this topic. They confirmed that maintaining a positive approach to results is more successful in caring for mental well-being.  Therefore, it seems that moderate and realistic optimism considerably reduces anxiety and stress.

4. Perform simple tasks

When you suffer anxiety waiting for important news, you tend to act on automatic pilot. You’re not centered. Your mind is elsewhere. Furthermore, you lack desire and energy. Thus, a simple strategy to reduce this mental state is to perform simple, motivating tasks that allow you to reduce your stress.

As far as possible, you should allow yourself moments of leisure such as reading, walking or watching a movie.

5. Talk to someone about what’s happening to you

We’ve all experienced the anxiety of waiting on multiple occasions. Indeed, it’s a kind of  ‘universal distress’. One way to deal with it is by spending time with your significant others.

Talk to your friends or family about how you feel and the ideas that come to mind. In this way, you can vent your emotions and relativize a little by placing your attention on other things.

Woman Typing in a Lake to Manage Wait Anxiety

6. Accept your feelings and thoughts: repressing them only intensifies anxiety

Not thinking in order not to suffer is a useless strategy. Suppressing emotions and displacing negative thoughts also doesn’t work. As a matter of fact, when managing anxiety, in all its forms, you must leave room for every sensation, idea, and emotion to surface and to accept, understand and rationalize them. In order to do so, it’s often useful to keep a journal and write down everything you feel.

Practices such as relaxation, breathing techniques, and mindfulness are also valid and interesting resources. At the end of the day, it’s about finding the strategy that best suits you. After all, time will eventually pass and you’ll have what you’ve been waiting for. Without a doubt, learning from these kinds of experiences will allow you to more successfully handle those inevitable anxious waits of the future.

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  • Rankin, Kyla & Sweeny, Kate. (2021). Preparing Silver Linings for a Cloudy Day: The Consequences of Preemptive Benefit Finding. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 014616722110378. 10.1177/01461672211037863.
  • Knapp, Sarah & Wilson, Melissa & Sweeny, Kate. (2021). The role of two emotion regulation tendencies across two waiting periods. Motivation and Emotion. 45. 1-10. 10.1007/s11031-021-09869-3.