You’ve more than likely heard of the negative aspects associated with anxiety, but you may be surprised to learn that anxiety can have positive benefits too.
For many years, a common misconception existed: that anxiety was always bad for your health. But now, opinions are gradually shifting as new research shows that anxiety is far more complex. In fact, anxiety can be beneficial: it can motivate you to perform at your best, help you stay alert, make you aware of risks, and guide you in solving problems.
In this video, OpenUp psychologist Paul Hessels explains what anxiety is, and how you can identify its symptoms and common triggers.
Next, let’s do a quick but effective self-reflection that will help you understand anxious thoughts better:
✍️ Take a moment to reflect on the last time you felt anxious. Write down any positive outcomes that arose from the experience: did your anxiousness make you feel more alert, motivated, or compelled to take action?
💡 Think back to a situation or event you avoided due to feeling anxious.
In the short-term, how did avoiding this situation make you feel? The avoidance coping strategy generally works well in the short-term, and you’ll likely feel relieved and calm. Take a moment to reflect and explore if this resonates with you.
But what about its effect on the long-term?
Take a moment to think about what happened in the long-term by avoiding this situation. You might come to the realisation that your avoidance did not erase your anxiety. Next, write down three positive outcomes that would arise from facing the situation you may be avoiding.
🧘♀️ Also interesting: Try our 10 minute Guided Meditation for Anxiety video
Anxiety helps us stay safe by preparing us to take action when we feel threatened. While it’s normal to feel anxious sometimes, too much anxiety can be harmful. Achieving balance is important; try not to avoid all stress, as this can actually increase anxiety and harm our health.
Our thoughts can cause our bodies to go into ‘fight or flight’ mode, making us feel tense and potentially affecting our physical health. We all cope with stress differently, and how we perceive stress affects how we deal with it.
It’s normal to feel stress or anxiety occasionally, but if it’s constant it can negatively impact our daily lives and mental well-being. We might try to avoid things that cause anxiety, but this can create a cycle where we feel more anxious over time.
Have you heard of the ABC model? Praised by psychologists, this model shows that we can learn to respond to challenging events with healthier emotions and behaviours, simply by challenging our own thoughts. Download the handout below to practise at your own convenience!
💡 Want to learn more about effectively dealing with anxiety for improved mental well-being? Book a session with one of our certified psychologists today.