I’ve always thought anxiety was a wicked thing — something that followed me everywhere, feeding my negative and paranoid thoughts, provoking a shivering sensation throughout my body.
A constant fear; a nervousness that never went away. I would always be worried to go out with friends, worried that I didn’t go out with friends — never fully at rest. It’s emotionally draining and tiring. It made me feel isolated.
However, as time goes on and I start acknowledging my worrisome companion, I realize it’s not all bad. You can learn to be friends with anxiety and utilize it in certain ways. Right now, I’m worrying and antagonizing about what to do after college, but I am using that anxiety to drive me to actively look at the opportunities and future prospects I have, to think about what direction I would like to go in and to find the experiences I need to get there.
Anxiety has always been described in a negative light; however, it has compelling characteristics. Here are a few ways those of us with the disorder can benefit from having anxiety.
It has been said that those diagnosed with anxiety are more empathetic. Empathy is a delightful attribute to have, especially within any relationship, whether romantic, platonic or amongst family and friends. We live in a highly demanding, stressful and intricate world right now and empathy is the chain that keeps everyone together and going.
You’re understanding, compassionate and kind. You can accept people regardless of flaws and forever support them. People will confide in you, feel relaxed, valid and calm in your presence — and that’s beautiful.
2. It Protects Us
What we tend to forget is that anxiety has a purpose. It wants us to be safe and alerts us when we’re in danger. The feeling of anxiety is our way of dealing with stress.
Anxiety is caused by the fight-or-flight response, so it’s aim is to protect us not harm us. It considers the amount of jeopardy we are in and decides whether we should attack or flee. Anxiety gets our adrenaline pumping and increases our reaction times. In return, we can avoid an accident (such as being in the presence of a dangerous animal or a car crash). Anxiety keeps us safe.
The process of several thoughts spinning around your head and the inability to dispose of them is called rumination. Personally, it makes me feel trapped and claustrophobic, however, it shows the depth of thought and when channelled correctly, it can be a very helpful asset.
Rumination can be exploited to excel in your leadership and problem-solving skills. The capability of being able to think of a multitude of scenarios and all various outcomes can help you have an introspective mindset (it concocts your fears, but also prepares you to have an assembly of solutions). This can work in other scenarios, not just work related.
Rumination can help you focus on what thoughts are setting off your anxiety. You can write these down and then go through them one by one, allowing you to understand yourself, your thought process and then beneficially use this to resolve or understand them.
For some individuals, anxiety can be used as a motivational tool. I tend to get anxious when I haven’t been active or productive during the day, therefore to defeat it, I try to give myself some tasks to do. Anxiety motivates me. Aforementioned, I am going into my last year of college and for the past week I have been facing severe anxiety, but I have turned this fear into actively looking into my future career and choices. This has slowly ebbed those post-university fears away.
5. You care!
I was always terrified of how I presented myself in front of new people, friends and even family. It makes me self-conscious and leads me to repeatedly apologize over little things I thought I’ve done wrong. However, there’s nothing wrong with being considerate! You care about these people and want to show the best side of yourself, and that you’re thoughtful and selfless. Just remember that no one is perfect, mistakes happen and these people will love you for you.
I’ve spent many years thinking that anxiety has always been my enemy, but I am gradually learning that it’s not all doom and gloom. I know that everyone’s experience is different, but I hope that this helps somehow and shows you that there’s always a positive side. As my sister says, “It never hurts to look for sunshine.”