Wait well, be a little pessimistic

In a study published in the February 2016 journal “Emotion”, Dr. Sweeny and researchers surveyed 230 law student graduates waiting to hear the results on their California bar exam. Some of their strategies to cope were 1. Hope for the best. 2. Proactive planning on how they would cope if the news was bad. The results showed that these strategies failed to reduce their stress and in some cases made it worse.

So, what are we to do?

Dr Sweeny and associates found that the better way to wait was when “participants agonized through their waiting period, ruminating and feeling anxious and pessimistic rather than minimize their anxiety and worry. Those who did this responded more productively to bad news and more joyfully to good news than participants who suffered little during the wait. This is waiting well.” In other words, it is better to worry or what I call buffering.

I use this buffering strategy when waiting for some important news. I may lose a little sleep in the worrying process, but I find that the “let down” is reduced because I kind of expected it if the result is not desirable.

Dr Sweeny goes on to explain how to wait well/buffer effectively.

· Stay in the present: “Research shows that people feel more pessimistic at the beginning and the end of a waiting period. Take advantage of the middle and get absorbed in an activity that forces you into the flow.”

· Delay your worry for as long as you can: “Set a date as close to when you will learn the news and don’t allow yourself to worry before then.”

· Reason with yourself if all else fails: “Ask yourself if there is anything else you can be doing to be proactive rather than just worrying.”

Wait well, it’s ok possibly, more healthy to be a little pessimistic.