People tend to consider anxiety as a threat, fearing its capacity to debilitate and exhaust us. However, research shows how anxiety can motivate us toward optimal functioning. By seeing unease within an optimistic framework we open up possibilities to channel it productively.
An intriguing study from the University of Wisconsin explains how our perception of stress impacts our ability to manage it. Our attitude creates a feedback loop. Anxiety feels like a problem because we treat it as a problem, increasing our worry. Conversely, the less detrimental you feel the nervous feelings are, the less agitation you will experience.
When we cultivate an optimistic view of our anxiety, we’re more able to harness its power.
Here are three ways you can Transform Your Anxiety into Excitement:
- Understand that feelings of anxiety are natural.
Anxiety is an intrinsic, healthy, and necessary part of the human condition. Apprehension can energize us to recognize and tackle problems that we might otherwise ignore.
- Relabel your anxious feelings.
Changing the way you regard any emotion is a powerful way to control its effects. Instead of telling yourself that you’re anxious, try describing the emotion as nervous excitement. Don’t allow it to hold you back by worrying; let the emotion push you forward toward optimal functioning.
- Take action.
Start thinking about how anxiety can work for you. Viewing it from this perspective frees up creative thinking to arrive at alternatives. Often, after you’ve started to work towards a resolution, your unease will diminish.
I’ve found this to be a powerful formula for approaching anxiety:
Identify the problem, Reframe your view of the problem in a positive way, Plan, and Act!
These approaches guide us to an optimistic view of anxiety. As a railroad buff, I like to think of them as STOP, LOOK and LISTEN.
However, there are times in our lives where apprehensive feelings threaten to overwhelm us. Instead of ignoring them, it’s best to get help from a professional mental health counselor who can help you work through your concerns. Please contact me if you would like to consider counseling.
Your optimism challenge:
When you find yourself becoming anxious, try the previously mentioned formula of identifying the source, reframing, planning, and acting.