7 Surprising Ways Anxiety Benefits You

Benefits of Anxiety

Here’s a fact that should take your anxiety down a notch: Some anxiety is good!

Whether you are an anxious person, you have an anxiety disorder, or you suffer from occasional bouts of angst, we all know that feeling of nervousness and dread. Anxiety can sometimes be mildly distracting, and at other times, all-consuming. Anxiety affects us on many levels, impacting our emotions and our bodies as physical sensations, and often contributing to negative thoughts.

Hopefully, it brings some consolation to the anxious that moderate amounts of anxiety can yield important, meaningful, and even life-saving benefits. Here are some of the more positive aspects of anxiety.

Hopefully, it brings some consolation to the anxious that moderate amounts of anxiety can yield important, meaningful, and even life-saving benefits. Click To Tweet

7 GOOD THINGS ABOUT ANXIETY

1. Motivation

While overwhelming anxiety can lead to paralysis, some anxiety can motivate you to take action when facing challenges. In a study focused on the benefits of worry, the researchers noted that worry illuminates the importance of taking action to prevent an undesirable outcome. For example, anxiety and worry may motivate you to work diligently to avoid failure and successfully complete a work or school project.

A 2018 study found that some anxious people in work environments have learned to harness anxiety to help them focus on tasks. They use their anxiety to regulate their performance. Anxiety can be very useful when it comes to things like test-taking and competition. Research shows that students and athletes who experienced some anxiety actually displayed improved performance on tests or while participating in competitive sports.

2. Resilience

In a presentation at the 2019 annual convention of the American Psychological Association (APA), psychologists acknowledged the beneficial role stress and anxiety can play in our everyday lives. Specifically, one presenter, Dr. Lisa Damour, noted that the stress and anxiety inherent in taking on a challenge and working to the edge of our abilities can actually make us stronger and more resilient when we are faced with new difficulties. She said that moderate levels of stress and anxiety “can have an inoculating function, which leads to higher than average resilience.” Examples of anxiety helping to build resilience may occur when you start a new job or take on a more challenging role at work.

3. Cautiousness

Anxiety is designed to protect us from danger and allow us to react quickly to emergencies. Anxious feelings are part of the fight-or-flight stress response. Practically speaking, for example in California, when the warm Santa Ana winds start blowing in the fall, anxiety may put you on alert and prompt you to trim the foliage surrounding your home in case a brush fire erupts. On the other side of the nation, the fear of flooding from a looming hurricane may drive you to use sandbags to protect your property.

Anxious people also tend to be more cautious, and that’s a good thing. A U.K. study found that anxious adolescents had fewer accidents and accidental deaths in early adulthood than those who did not suffer from anxiety. In cases like this, anxiety may serve to keep you safe – and alive!

4. Longevity

In 1921, psychologist Lewis Terman at Stanford University in California embarked on what has become the world’s longest-running longitudinal study. It began with 1,500 children starting at age 11 into adulthood, collecting a variety of data that might predict later success. The fascinating results show that the trait most associated with longevity was conscientiousness. The don’t-worry-be-happy people died the earliest from accidents and preventable illnesses because they tended to underestimate risks.

A new study from the University of Edinburgh and University College London that examined health information on more than 500,000 people also found that people who are highly neurotic (anxious people) are more likely to live longer. The researchers believe that their worrying dispositions drove them to underestimate their wellness and take action to check and care for their health. In other words, they were very vigilant about their health. Meanwhile, the non-neurotic patients were less likely to seek treatment for symptoms and had health difficulties later on!

5. Warning Signs

Anxiety can be like a red flag or warning sign to an area of your life that needs attention. In this regard, the unpleasantness of recurrent worry and nervousness may be serving you well. Dr. Damour, the APA presenter mentioned above, noted this positive attribute of anxiety in her talk. She described anxiety as an internal alarm system that was handed down by evolution to alert us to both internal and external threats.

Perhaps you have anxiety about something your teenage child is doing and it’s telling you to pay attention and take action, or maybe you need to end a relationship that is no longer working, or maybe your anxiety is increasing because you have an important deadline approaching, and you need to get working. Whatever the warning signal is, your anxiety may be alerting you to take notice or action on something very important.

6. Empathy

Suffering makes us more empathetic human beings, and that is definitely the case when it comes to suffering from anxiety. Personal struggles with painful anxious feelings have likely made you a more empathetic person, according to research. That means you may be more sensitive to, loving, and accepting of loved ones and people in general who are dealing with personal challenges. The world is a better place with more empathetic people.

7. Good Leadership

Leaders need to run multiple scenarios and be prepared for any outcome. It turns out that anxious people are really good at this, and often prepared for a crisis when it arrives. These are very important qualities for effective leaders.

Interestingly, data shows that anxious people process threats differently, using areas of the brain that are responsible for taking action. Anxious people react quickly in times of danger and tend to be more comfortable with uncomfortable feelings.

If these qualities are applied intelligently, anxious leaders are wonderful at making their teams more resourceful, productive, and creative.

ANXIETY: A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

While moderate amounts of anxiety can be beneficial in the ways just mentioned, too much anxiety can cause panic attacks, health problems, and destructive behavior. If your anxiety is out of control, or if it’s interfering with your daily life, it’s time to seek professional help.

Anxiety and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.

14 Comments »

  1. Boy did this article hit home! I am so happy to read this. We anxiety sufferers often associate anxiety with doom and gloom. Finally there IS something good to come out of what I thought was endless suffering.
    Thank you for giving me the positive side of anxiety!

    Comment by Marianne Dilworth — November 12, 2021 @ 3:18 AM

  2. Good article. Points out being a anxious person some times can be a good thing. It actually prepares us for the little surprise s in everyday life. We are not necessarily crazy. Well maybe.

    Comment by Lisa — November 12, 2021 @ 5:11 AM

  3. Thank you so much for this enlightening post. So many people suffer from anxiety, myself included, and consider it a major flaw . Great to hear a positive slant to it. It allows those of us dealing with an anxious mind to find value in the positive side of it, and not always trying to totally iradicate it. I realize, of course, that one needs to measure the degree of the anxiety they experience, and decide if the level is causing too much emotional harm . Then they may need to seek professional help.
    ******
    Love feeling stoked this morning after reading this article. Kind of like getting a big hug!! Smile.

    Comment by Madelyn — November 12, 2021 @ 6:42 AM

  4. I have found in my own life that the research on Empathy and Motivation are true.

    Comment by Darrell — November 12, 2021 @ 7:06 AM

  5. Love this article::: I was thinking just that about anxiety … I may have itLol no but not kidding. I may have anxiety.

    Comment by Jackson — November 12, 2021 @ 7:10 AM

  6. W/in the last few years I learned I have anxiety, not depression. W/the assistance of a counselor I learned I already had some coping skills in place & now I have more. But I never realized anxiety can be a positive feeling also. Thank you.

    Comment by Lynn Bonser — November 12, 2021 @ 8:07 AM

  7. Hi,
    Thank you for this article, i appreciated it.

    Comment by Karim Mozher — November 12, 2021 @ 8:15 AM

  8. I WOULD LIKE TO RECEIVE INFO ON HOW TO HANDLE ANXIETY.

    Comment by TAYLOR — November 12, 2021 @ 10:24 AM

  9. THANK YOU! Finally! Someone who says something positive about people who think and plan ahead because they are not simply living in the moment! SO often I have been confused with criticism for simply mentioning a potential issue when a committee is racing into a new program. I have never understood why thinking ahead was “negative.” Thank you for this and so many of your helpful articles!

    Comment by Jeanne — November 12, 2021 @ 10:53 AM

  10. I enjoyed reading this article and will be sending it to both my adult children They both suffer from anxiety and have always viewed it as a very negative condition. Thank you!

    Comment by Ma Chudejry — November 13, 2021 @ 6:56 AM

  11. A very wonderful and thought provoking read. I find it gives me a way to look at an anxious situation in a different light!
    Finding a positive out a potential negative situation so to speak.

    Comment by Peter Zagar — November 14, 2021 @ 10:23 AM

  12. Very helpful notes. Thank you Dr Amen!

    Comment by Francisca Marquez — November 14, 2021 @ 12:53 PM

  13. hmmmm…..
    but living with constant anxiety eventually exhausted me so i have nothing left to give – have no will to live but just grind from day to day as my home falls down around me

    Comment by penny waters — November 17, 2021 @ 2:18 AM

  14. Hello Taylor, thank you for reaching out. If you would like to learn how to handle anxiety, you can check out more of our blogs that discuss the topic, or you can contact our Care Coordinators about scheduling an appointment at one of our nine clinics. For more information about scheduling: https://www.amenclinics.com/schedule-visit/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — November 19, 2021 @ 11:42 AM

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