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Post-Event Processing: Understanding the Role it Plays in Anxiety

By: Shawne Poplar, MA LPC-S Licensed Professional Counselor


 

Post-event processing refers to the way we think about and make sense of events after they have happened. This process can be particularly important for individuals who experience anxiety, as it can influence how they perceive and respond to future events.


When we experience an anxiety-provoking event, our brains are flooded with stress hormones and we may feel overwhelmed and on edge. In the aftermath of the event, our brains continue to process and analyze the experience, trying to make sense of what happened and determine whether there is any potential danger in the future.


If our post-event processing is negative or distorted, it can lead to increased anxiety and a heightened sense of threat. For example, if we interpret a minor miscommunication with a colleague as a sign that we are incompetent or disliked, we may become more anxious about future interactions with that person and may be more likely to avoid them.


On the other hand, if we engage in more balanced and realistic post-event processing, we may be better able to understand the event in context and to cope with any negative emotions that may arise. We may also be more likely to take a proactive approach to addressing any issues or challenges that arose, rather than avoiding them or becoming stuck in negative thinking.


To help with post-event processing and reduce anxiety, it can be helpful to engage in activities that promote relaxation and mindfulness, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. It can also be helpful to talk with a trusted friend or therapist about the event and to work on challenging negative thoughts or beliefs that may arise. By taking a proactive approach to post-event processing, we can better cope with anxiety-provoking events and build resilience for the future.


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