Anxiety and Sudden Change of Plans Do NOT Mix!

It’s not a big deal! Right? So the plans changed at the last minute, that happens all the time! Except it is a big deal. To me at least, it’s a major deal. 

Having a mood disorder such as anxiety means that sometimes a small change in plans, especially last minute, can send your brain down a rabbit hole of worries, questions, and doubts. You start to wonder what caused the plans to change and if you should be worried about them. Do they not want to be around me anymore? Are we now going to a place I am not familiar with? Are new people coming that I don’t know about? What should I wear? Am I going to have an anxiety attack?

Every person with anxiety has a different experience and different reasons for why a sudden change of plans can be so distressing. For me, it has a lot to do with my need to mentally prepare for everything. I put so much energy into thinking about the plans, what we are going to do, things I want to remember to talk to someone about, where we are going, and what the bathroom situation is going to be, etc. After doing all that inner prep-work, a sudden change of plans means I have to do it all over again, but in a very short amount of time. It also means that all the analyzing I already did was a waste of mental energy, which is really frustrating.

The situation I find I have the hardest time with, (that a lot of people with anxiety might disagree with me on) is when plans are canceled at the last minute. I know a lot of people with anxiety and depression kind of love it when plans are canceled because it means they can stay home. I totally get that, and depending on the event, I am the same way. 

However, when I am looking forward to something, I still analyze the plans ahead of time. I think about who I am spending time with, what we are going to do, and everything in between. I understand that real life won’t go along with the script that I’ve prepared in my head, but having it makes me feel better. When the plans are canceled at the last minute, it is really frustrating for me and I feel a great sense of disappointment. This is when those questions and worries really come upon me. Why don’t they want to spend time with me? Did I do something to offend them? If I did “X” would they have stayed? Now when am I going to have a chance to talk to *person* about “X”?

Now that I am a mom to a toddler, I am adjusting my expectations about how plans go. I am getting used to having to switch gears in my head. I think this pandemic has actually eased me into changes of plans because there aren’t many plans that have the opportunity to change. So most of my mental gear shifting practice has been over small every day plan changes. 

How I will handle the bigger plans suddenly changing after the pandemic is still a question in my mind. But I imagine a lot of disappointment over plans being cancelled if they are plans where I don’t have to take care of my daughter and can spend time with adults other than my husband for a few hours. I can’t wait to be able to do that again!

What is it about a change in plans that really gets your anxiety going? How do you cope? I’d love to hear it in the comments below!

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