Good Anxiety? Is there such a thing?

Wednesday, February 24, 2021 @ 12:20 PM

Anxiety is one of the more frequent presenting problems that graces my office. However, is anxiety really bad? Before I answer that, ask yourself one question, what is the purpose of anxiety? (Que the Jeopardy theme music)!

Take a minute to reminisce back to high school or college testing days. The anxiety before the test was choking and all consuming. This anxiety typically pushes a person to study and prepare. In this instant, anxiety did its job. Anxiety’s job is to trigger us to prepare and to be alert. It must feel awful in order to make sure we are preparing adequately and being cautious in our environment. As long as you are still able to move forward in life and obtain your goals, then healthy amounts of anxiety can be a good thing. Breathe through this type of anxiety and exercise to maintain the stress this anxiety is producing. When the stressful event is finished, then thank your anxiety for doing its job and enjoy the benefits the small panic produced.

Now, if anxiety is shutting you down and preventing you from moving forward, there is a larger problem at hand. I will be daring enough to say that a person dealing with “stop all action and shut me down anxiety” isn’t dealing with anxiety, but with fear. Fear and anxiety can feel very similar. Also, not many people want to admit that they struggle with fear. It feels like our pride gets hit deeper when we admit our fears, so many people feel more comfortable with the word anxiety.

However, if you are one of these people who suffer from all-consuming anxiety and it prevents your from moving forward, I want you to ask yourself one question: what are you truly scared of? Change the word anxiety to fear and start facing what the actual fear is. You will find that just rewording your anxiety to fear will give you a different perspective on what is holding your back and now you can start creating courageous solutions to face your fears.

Anxiety does not have to dampen your life, especially if you differentiate whether the anxiety is good anxiety or whether it is fear. Identifying which type of anxiety you are grappling with can make the moment much easier to handle and also free you up to find active solutions.