Use Your Anxiety to Help You

Posted on August 2, 2017

People often have a negative view of anxiety. After all, anxiety is associated with sweaty palms and sleepless nights. Recent research, however, has found that anxiety may help with your performance if you know how to respond appropriately.

Anxiety consists of psychological and physiological symptoms that come about because of apprehension at what is perceived to be a threat. These symptoms differ between people and depends on the perception of the size of the threat. Someone may get anxious when taking a flight, while another may feel dizzy when giving a presentation.

While anxiety is something we do not like, it protects you. You wouldn’t know if your life is in danger if you didn’t have anxiety. Without anxiety, you wouldn’t take necessary precautions while doing certain tasks, like looking both ways before crossing the road. However, most people experience anxiety in non-life-threatening situations as well.

While many studies have found negative effects of anxiety, like impaired memory and poor concentration, recent research suggests that it may not always reduce performance levels. It was found that people who view stressful situations as challenges, and not threats, can actually benefit from anxiety. For example, feeling anxious over a deadline helps you get the assignment done, or anxiety about failing an exam helped you focus your attention on studying. Anxiety can help keep you focused on your goal, but only if you embrace it. Attempting to suppress or avoid anxiety will reinforce to you that feeling anxious is bad. Research has found better performance from people who accept their anxiety, knowing that it helps direct them to their goals.

Remember that it is human to feel anxious sometimes. Building your mental strength does not mean you have to be calm all the time, but rather doing what you have to do even though you’re feeling anxious. Being productive when you’re anxious will build confidence in yourself to manage events that may unnerve you. This will help you view stress as a challenge instead of a threat, allowing you to use your anxiety to motivate you instead of being held back.

However, if your anxiety is overwhelming and interferes with your daily functioning, consider seeking help as it could be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can be treated well with professional help.


Source material from Psychology Today

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