Anxiety has a bad reputation, but although many people are constantly tormented by anxious feelings, there can actually be a lot of benefits to having anxiety. Anxiety presents itself in different forms, but for the sake of simplicity, it’s defined as a feeling of worry or apprehension provoked by thoughts of a future state or happening. Many people experience this feeling at one point or another throughout their life, and it can come about in many different ways or forms. Some people, like me, have diagnosed general anxiety, panic attack disorders, or a combination of both. Others may have only felt anxious in rare circumstances or only a handful of times. For those who experience being anxious very often, you probably wish you could eradicate it from your life. Still, as hard as it is to believe, there are parts of everyday anxiety that can actually be positive!
How can this be positive? Well, in order for anxiety to be positive, it needs to be at a low level where it is not causing other issues or health problems in your life. If your anxiety is impacting your work, sleep, relationships, or overall stress, it is definitely not a positive, and you should attempt to work through lowering these levels with a doctor and /or therapist. That being said, at a managed level, anxiety can be beneficial in several ways.
Benefit #1-Increases Motivation
To start, anxiety can be a form of motivation, and can incite productivity and proactivity. Personally, I have struggled with anxiety since I was in high school. When I was going into my sophomore year, I suddenly became extremely concerned and worried about how my grades would impact my entire life. I started to care about school more, studied harder, and put in the effort that had been lacking previously. It took me years to realize it, but what this sudden change was, was anxiety. I was anxious about my future, so I was motivated to work harder in the moment.
At this point, my anxiety was definitely present but had not affected any other aspects of my life. This is where I considered it a low level, and felt that the impacts of my anxiety were positive. I ended up making the grades I wanted to and was extremely proud of the colleges I was in range to apply to. This low level of anxiety remained throughout my freshman year and allowed me to continue the hard work and strong effort throughout my college classes and extracurricular activities.
Benefit #2-You Become More Proactive
Aside from it being something that keeps motivation on track and keeps productivity in check, anxiety can also be beneficial with proactivity. There are so many times in life when my anxiety has made me think ahead to the point where I have avoided a problem or conflict. The feeling of anxiety comes from our innate fight or flight response, which protects us from harm or danger. Our fight or flight inhibitions have naturally evolved as society has changed, but when it comes about in the form of anxiety, it can sometimes be beneficial in planning ahead.
As long as your anxiety is in your control, and at a manageable place, there is nothing wrong with using it as a form of preparedness. In my own life, I am constantly the one thinking about things to prepare for that no one else would even consider, and my response/motto is always “better to be safe than sorry!” I would rather be anxious for a moment, and think through a plan, backup plan, or what would happen if everything fails, than have something happen out of nowhere to ruin it all. Life happens, and mistakes are made, but by doing your best to think and plan, you can avoid the chaos in moments of stress.
Benefit #3- You Become More Appreciative
Along with this, worrying in the moment can feel really scary, but when you realize that everything is okay, or going to be okay, it is even more of a relief than if you didn’t think about it at all. What’s better than thinking to yourself, why was I even worried in the first place? Well, at the moment, you were probably worried that everything would fail, become chaotic, or turn out badly. Those are reasonable anxious concerns, but having these worries in the first place makes you appreciate when things work out, even if you thought they wouldn’t. And if you have anxiety frequently, you’ll start to realize that your worries usually work out more often than not.
Overall, having anxiety is extremely hard. I know that firsthand, but I also do not know where I would be in life without it. My anxiety makes me organized, productive, prepared, and cautious, and I have it to owe for a lot of my success. If you can learn to control your anxiety where it does not take over other aspects of your life but is rather an added energy of the mind, it can be really positive. The mental illness of diagnosed anxiety does not have to be a bad one. Once you learn how to manage these feelings, the thoughts behind them, and the influences they have your anxious mind becomes a part of your personality. You should be proud of who you are, anxiety and all!