Can Anxiety Actually Be Good?

While anxiety can have debilitating effects on certain individuals, there is always a flip side to every situation. Many mental illnesses have negative connotations associated with them, and very rarely do individuals address the positive side of living with a mental illness. While it can be extremely difficult to be optimistic when dealing with a mental illness, it is important to acknowledge some of the benefits, as they often go unacknowledged. Having anxiety can strengthen skills in motivation, preparation, attention, protection, and communication.


Motivation

Research has proven that anxiety is a powerful motivating force. Anxiety drives individuals to do things in a way that very few other feelings do. Oftentimes, people need anxiety to push themselves to get tasks completed. You may be wondering how this works, and that’s what I’m here to explain to you. When a person has uncompleted work and responsibilities, they usually fear the negative consequences associated with not completing the tasks or not meeting the deadline. This fear, prompted by anxiety, is what ultimately boosts motivation in individuals and allows them to get their responsibilities completed. Additionally, research has shown that athletes who experience some anxiety have performed better in competitive sports.


Preparation

Studies have shown that anxiety can actually help you be more prepared for a disaster or difficult situation, in certain situations. Whether you have a big speech, an important presentation, a huge performance or even an upcoming test or exam, you can begin to feel anxious as it approaches. This anxiety, in combination with the fear that something will go wrong, drives individuals to precisely prepare for their upcoming situation. This anxiety can encourage people to rehearse their lines for a show or a speech for hours, or prepare alternate plans for worst-case scenario situations. Certainly, people can do all of these things without anxiety, but it is our body’s natural way of driving us to do it.


Attention

When people have anxiety, it makes them recognize all of the things in their life that are most important: the things that deserve attention and the things that do not. Attention goes hand in hand with preparation and motivation, as the anxiety-driven fear associated with preparation and motivation allow individuals to pay attention to important tasks and pay attention to it in a way that uniquely helps them succeed.


Protection

Anxiety is a very crucial factor when it comes to protecting oneself from danger. In situations where harm is likely to be caused, people tend to acquire feelings of anxiousness. Feeling anxious in life or death, or threatening situations is a natural feeling for all people, even those without diagnosed anxiety or mental illness. This feeling of anxiety in high-risk situations, activates a person’s fight-or-flight response, in an attempt to protect themselves from danger and allow themselves to react faster in situations of emergency. For most people, anxiety can be a symptom that helps you react quickly to avoid an accident while driving a car. However, for people with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), this mechanism often contributes to them viewing situations more dangerous than they actually are. Nevertheless, anxiety helps keep individuals safe, in all situations.


Communication

Some people with anxiety like to confide in close friends and family when they are feeling stressed out. It is a coping mechanism that helps people find support and a safe place by sharing and communicating their feelings with trusted individuals. Additionally, people who have experienced anxiety tend to be more empathetic and understanding of other people’s situations.


It’s time to start embracing anxiety, one step at a time.

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