The word “anxiety” makes us a little, well, anxious. The truth is, though, that everyone gets nervous; it’s nothing to be ashamed of. The problem comes when we psyche ourselves out and make a difficult situation worse by compounding our worries (also, please understand that I’m referring to normal anxiety, not anxiety disorder, which is a legitimate mental health condition that requires professional treatment).
There’s some interesting new research that shows how reframing anxiety into a form of excitement can help us cope better. I love the idea of viewing our nervousness as a positive thing that can prepare us for demanding situations. Here are 3 ways we can rethink anxiety and use it for our good:
Stop Telling Yourself To Calm Down
We do ourselves a real disservice when we insist on “calming down.” It’s good to acknowledge our emotions, including anxiety, and attempting to simply calm down probably won’t help much. Calmness is such a mismatch for anxiety, so instead, when those nervous feelings come, let’s try to get pumped up! Maybe it’s an athletic event or even a first date that has you worried. In times of stress, don’t keep calm and carry on- get excited and carry on!
Focus On Opportunities
The things that make us most nervous are also the things that can help us grow the most. For example, maybe a new job has you feeling tense. It’s common to ruminate on the possible negative outcomes and think most about the threat (“what if I get fired?” or “I am so incompetent!”), but why not reframe the situation to instead focus on what you can learn. This may be a great chance for you to increase your skills and advance your career, so focus on the opportunities at hand.
Turn Fear Into Action
Fear of certain outcomes isn’t always a bad thing, particularly if it motivates us into action. If you’re worried about your health, set goals to eat better and to follow an exercise program. If your finances are causing you stress, read some books by money gurus and begin to take control of your spending and budget. If career concerns are plaguing you, consider meeting with a counselor or couch and brainstorm some ideas. Remember, anxiety exists for a reason, so utilize it to work to your advantage.