Experiencing excessive worry or anxiety is a serious mental health concern that might impact your life in a number of ways. It can cause racing thoughts, induce palpitations, make you feel jittery and fatigued and even impact your physical health, causing headaches and gastrointestinal issues. However, as distressing as this emotion is, it exists to serve a few vital functions. Here are some of the benefits of anxiety.
1. It alerts your attention to potential risks or negative outcomes.
Anxiety is more of an anticipatory response to situations. You might feel worried that something might go wrong. For example, you feel anxious before an important work presentation. This feeling might then cause you to think of everything that might go wrong – maybe the laptop will stop working at an important point in the presentation or maybe you’ll forget what you have to say, etc. Once you are aware of everything that could go wrong, you would work to ensure that these outcomes don’t happen, and be better prepared to deal with them if they did.
2. It keeps you motivated.
If you are worried about the outcome of a particular situation, you might put in all your resources to ensure that things don’t end badly. This means you might not only start working harder, but also work more consistently to see positive results. For example, a student anxious about her marks in the final exams will try studying a little bit every weekend instead of just two days before the exam in order to alleviate her distress.
3. It makes you more compassionate.
Experiencing the distress that comes with being anxious might automatically help you recognise it in other people too. You could become more empathetic and eventually kinder towards them. This could prove helpful in your relationships, as people would automatically feel more connected to you when you understand what they’re experiencing.
4. It brings about positive change.
While feeling anxious may not be the best feeling in the world, it can ultimately bring about positive change. It forces you to take a look at things that might not be working out so well and work towards changing those things. For example, a person anxious about their relationship ending might think about what they could be doing to make the relationship work, make those changes and then enhance the quality of that relationship.
When Does Anxiety Become a Problem?
While feeling anxious might have its benefits, feeling excessively anxious might impact your day to day functioning. When your anxiety starts preventing you from enjoying things you normally would or reduces your productivity at work or at home, it might have surpassed what can be considered an ‘optimal’ level. If you find that you’ve been regularly experiencing some of the following signs, then it might be time to address your anxiety.
-Health concerns like headaches and stomach upsets