You don’t have to have a diagnosed anxiety disorder to experience anxiety. Those butterflies in your stomach before a big test? Anxiety. Sweaty palms when meeting new people? Anxiety. Racing thoughts when trying to make an important decision? Yep. Anxiety.
A person with an anxiety disorder has these feelings more often than most, but for the rest of the population, these bouts of situational anxiety are considered “normal”. Most of us would say that this anxiety is a hindrance to our everyday performance and productivity. It keeps us from acing the test, impressing the new people, or making the right decision. And for most, that’s totally true.
BUT. But what if you could use that anxiety to actually improve your productivity and performance? What if anxiety can actually be the catalyst to your greatness?
If you think about it scientifically, the anxious physical sensations mentioned above are actually a result of an excess of adrenaline in our bodies. At one time, humans needed these surges of adrenaline in order to run away from a big scary animal or fight for the right to some land (or whatever cavemen did back then), and they were grateful that their bodies gave them that extra surge when they really needed it. Our current world doesn’t often involve such life or death situations, but nevertheless, we still get that fight or flight response to sometimes trivial problems that we need to deal with. It’s overkill for us, and that’s why instead of being happy about it, we consider it a problem.
The key to seeing your anxiety as power rather than painful is to try to see it objectively.
If you can learn to recognize when you are feeling anxious, you can use your rational mind to tell yourself that this is energy that you should USE rather than try to fight it and push it away (which doesn’t work, by the way, because that energy needs to go somewhere!).
It can also be helpful to plan ahead for anxiety. Tell yourself something like, “That presentation next week is going to make me anxious, but I’m going to use that anxiety to do a great job and impress everyone”. Say it to yourself as many times as it takes so that you believe it. Now you won’t be taken by surprised when you get nervous, and will be able to work through it.
I hope that they next time you find yourself with an excess of adrenaline at an unwanted time, that you’ll remember this article, and know that you can use that energy for awesomeness instead of anxiety!