7 Ways to Stop Anxiety Before It Starts

#5: Make time to worry on purpose

Nick Wignall
11 min readSep 2


Photo by Daniel Xavier

Here’s a truth about anxiety that’s hard to accept:

There’s no magic coping skill or secret mantra that will eliminate anxiety.

That’s because some degree of anxiety is an inevitable and normal part of life.

And in fact, the belief that you should be able to totally control or eliminate your anxiety is probably one of the biggest reasons you continue to feel as anxious as you do.

That said, it is possible to significantly reduce the overall amount of anxiety you feel on a regular basis. And the trick is to deal with it before it even starts — or at least very early in the process.

But how can I deal with my anxiety before it starts?

In a word: Habits

Just like an athlete develops habits in training that help them deal with game-time stressors and uncertainties, you can cultivate healthy mental and emotional habits that help you deal with the inevitable stressors of life before they snowball into overwhelming amounts of worry and anxiety.

As a psychologist who specializes in anxiety, here are a handful of my favorite anxiety-preventing habits…

1. Acknowledge Worry and Anxiety Early

It’s a lot easier to deal with difficult things when they’re small than when they’re big…

  • It’s a lot easier to pay off a $1,000 loan than a $50,000 one
  • It’s a lot easier to lose 5 pounds than 30
  • It’s a lot easier to deal with a misbehaving 3-year-old than a misbehaving 13-year-old

Well, the same principle applies to emotional difficulties like anxiety…

The earlier you acknowledge your anxiety the easier it will be to deal with it.

For example, suppose you find yourself one morning worrying about an argument you had with your spouse the evening before…

  • You immediately brush it off and tell yourself that’s silly.
  • An hour later, as you pull into work, you find yourself feeling a little nervous…



Nick Wignall

Psychologist and writer sharing practical advice for emotional health and well-being: https://thefriendlymind.com