When we think of anxiety we think immediately of the kind that brings about panic attacks or keeps us from talking to other people. After all, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, 40 million people in the United States suffer from diagnosed anxiety with many unreported cases. We neglect all the gray areas and the other anxiety that helps push us towards amazing things.
The Good and the Bad
As we start to deepen our understanding of finding the good in anxiety, we need to look at stress. Anxiety usually goes hand in hand with stress. They are BFFs and there are 2 types…
Eustress: This is the good kind. Think of taking on a challenge that could lead to something good like a promotion or getting into college. It’s the kind of nerves you feel before something good like starting a new job, getting married, or going to sleep the night before you leave for vacation.
Distress: This is the bad kind. The kind where your nerves end up as repetitive negativity or pessimism. Times of distress are overwhelming and debilitating. Like losing your job, having a health scare, or incessantly worrying that something bad may happen.
Now that you know the difference we can focus on the good kind of anxiety. This is the kind that you can be aware of and use to your advantage. After all, Life Design is about sustaining happiness and I want to let you in on the unexpected ways that anxiety can work if you work it.
Here we go!
The Good of Anxiety
Often, the beginning of these emotions is that feeling in your gut like butterflies in your stomach. There are typically feelings of confusion like you are not sure whether your intuition is telling you whatever it is, is a good or bad thing. So your nerves and muscles tighten in this state where you are just on the edge of your seat waiting for what’s next.
Here are 4 ways you can make anxiety work for you…
This is the adrenaline rush you feel when something is about to happen. Like during Halloween when you go to a haunted house. You are anticipating being scared and having fun. After all, if you didn’t want a good scare, you probably wouldn’t be there, right? Or think about watching a Rom-Com and that moment where you want to hide under a blanket because you aren’t sure if they’ll get together or not (spoiler alert! They get together!). That’s the rush. We feel it when we anticipate something good coming. This is good anxiety we can use to hold onto those positive feelings, staying spontaneous and open to possibility. Ride the rush and allow yourself to feel good.
The Gold Star
When we were children, whether we realize it or not, we were conditioned to be anxious about school. Think about it…if you have anxiety enough to pass a test, it will motivate you to actually study. Some students take this to heart and later become perfectionists. This can work for them as they advance in careers or fault them when they work in teams feeling like others aren’t doing enough. Others reject and flunk. Then, a bunch is in the gray area where they may study enough to pass or don’t need to study at all.
The key is knowing when to use the gold star as a push for motivation. This requires you to look at the present and remind yourself what is helping you make decisions in the first place. Like, I want to work out right now because later today I will feel better after moving my body. It could be simple like meeting a deadline, taking time for self-care, or another “small win.” Give yourself a star when you work through this anxiety. You can decide what that is.
The leap is the major life changes that are mostly positive, yet bring on anxiety. Think big decisions such as getting married, trying to get pregnant, changing careers, or buying a house. We can use the fear we are experiencing during these transitions as a powerful tool in having faith and trust in ourselves.
New things or changes can feel overwhelming, however, I want you to remember that the meaning behind them is our tool here. When anxiety creeps in, it is normal during these times. Think of what these decisions mean to you. The meaning is a reminder you are stronger than you think. Go for it and leave the doubt behind!
Our last stop here is pride. Inspiration and leaping feel good until it doesn’t. When the fears creep in, boy they are fierce! Think here of moments of anxiety when you may be a female running in a male-dominated government. Or standing up to a bully or for a cause you are passionate about.
The way to use pride here is to “be the change you want to see in the world.” Feel pride in yourself to move past all the “what ifs” and excuses that hold you back everyday.
Now you know 4 ways you make anxiety work for you for the good. When you are in moments and you see these elements, grab hold of them and remind yourself “this is good anxiety, I can work this!”
You can ask yourself these questions during those times to determine if it’s good anxiety or bad…
“Is anxiety holding me back?”
“Is anxiety pushing me forward?”
Only you know the truth…
If it’s good, work it, baby!