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Anxiety can have positive aspects?

With the help of experts, we discover an unexpected ally in our lives

Anxiety can have positive aspects? With the help of experts, we discover an unexpected ally in our lives

"Anxiety prevents me from acting as I would like": how many times have you said a phrase like this or searched online for advice on "how to defeat anxiety"? But what if we told you that this phenomenon should not only be seen as an enemy? Just like a double-edged medal, anxiety can have positive aspects and transform into an ally. This is what science and industry experts say, but let's start by giving a general definition of the concept.

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

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Psychologist Olga Armento explains that anxiety is an emotional state and a kind of anticipatory reaction characterized by worry, restlessness, apprehension, and fear, accompanied by typical physical and physiological reactions of tension. It arises when we are faced with a possible future negative event, which has not happened yet, or when encountering certain external stimuli that require a sudden change for adaptation.

Why do I experience anxiety?


Anxiety has an important adaptive function at a physiological level as it allows mobilization of the individual's psychophysical and cognitive resources, preparing them to face a potential dangerous situation by planning an effective response. On this aspect, in particular, expert Gaia Cavalleri enlightens us: "For example, if a student about to take an exam didn't feel a hint of anxiety, they wouldn't feel the need for planning, thus potentially facing failure. Anxiety, therefore, in some circumstances, is functional and necessary. In the case of an exam, it allows for information retrieval and concentration.

How to combat anxiety and turn it into strength

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As Armento points out, anxiety can take various "forms"; indeed, we can distinguish it as "normal," "pathological" (when it overwhelms psychic functioning, limiting daily activities), or even "positive." General symptoms of anxiety include: imminent danger, fear of losing control, fear of going crazy, avoidance of new situations, tension and stress, apprehension and worries, hypervigilance, restlessness, inability to relax, irritability and impatience, overthinking, sleep disorders, etc.

@okaysisterpod @madymaio explains distress vs eustress! We first heard of this idea from Sahil Bloom and it has changed our lives

The benefits we can derive from our "public enemy number 1" closely align with the concept of "eustress," a form of positive unease that, instead of blocking us, motivates us and can help us achieve our goals, directing us more towards them and optimizing our abilities, making us productive. We can, therefore, consider it a kind of reminder, a motivational tool that occasionally whispers, "move or fall behind!" and allows us to start off on the right foot to complete all our commitments. A useful perspective through which to experience anxiety that, for the first time, allows us to see it in a new light.

When does anxiety become negative?

@psicologaia_ Risposta a @Davide Ferrara PUÒ L’ANSIA CAUSARE DISTUBI DIGESTIVI?

Returning to the example of the student taking the exam, Cavalleri points out that, when this event is over and the student continues to dwell on how it went, perhaps experiencing discomfort, this is where an alarm bell should ring. If anxiety is excessive, it may fall into the category of anxiety disorders. Many anxiety symptoms have a somatic basis: increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, muscle tension, dizziness, fear of fainting, tremors, blurred vision, sweating, gastrointestinal disturbances. These are accompanied by unpleasant psychological sensations manifested through negative thoughts and (unfounded) fears that something bad may happen. When a problem related to the anxious sphere impacts the quality of life, it is necessary to seek help from specialists (psychologists and psychotherapists) and follow a path to increase awareness of the factors triggering excessive reactions with the goal of acquiring new functional coping strategies for anxiety-inducing situations.

In conclusion, it is essential to identify the thin line that separates negative anxiety from the benefits we could derive from it, but above all, to seek help when we can no longer control the situation. According to Yerkes-Dodson's law, a theory that originated in the early 20th century from experiments on mice, the increase in cognitive arousal levels, or stress, can improve performance, but only to a certain extent. The theory, represented by a mountain-shaped curve, shows that after the curve reaches its peak, higher stress levels cause a decline in performance. What do you think? Have you ever seen anxiety from this perspective or even benefited from it?