Anxiety Can be a Good Thing

John Krautzel
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A study published in 2017 by the Journal of Individual Differences reveals that people who experience anxiety might actually benefit from this feeling. The trick is leveraging feelings of anxiety into a motivational energy. Rather than seeing anxiety as a problem, top performers embrace this negative feeling and turn it into a good thing.

How This Works

When you experience anxiety, you have two choices. You can try to suppress it or accept it. If you try to suppress your anxious feelings, you might begin to worry that people may see that you're nervous. You might believe that anxiety leads to failure. These worries then turn into even more anxiety while heaping even more pressure on you rather than making you feel better.

Instead, acknowledge your feelings and accept that you are going through an anxious moment. The feeling does make you uncomfortable, and you might begin to sweat, your heart may race, and you might start to tap your feet uncontrollably. Understand that overcoming feelings of anxiety improves your mental fortitude and gives you a way to learn how to handle these emotions. Learning leads to better ways and techniques to quell any negative thoughts the next time you experience anxiety.

Defining Anxiety

Defining and recognizing anxiety is the first step to mitigating its effects. When you experience anxiety, the American Psychological Association says you go through an emotion characterized by tension and worried thoughts. These lead to physical symptoms, including increased blood pressure, elevated heart rate and sweating. Some people may feel dizziness at the thought of getting on an airplane. Others may feel ill ahead of a first date with an attractive potential partner.

Several things can trigger anxiety. Your life may get busy with a ton of responsibilities, such as juggling a professional life and family. Negative thinking can creep into your consciousness if you have a bad day at work. You might start to feel perfectionism set it as you try to perform better at work. That, in turn, makes you even more nervous and uptight, thereby leading to even more anxiety.

As you experience anxiety, it comes down to one basic tenet. This feeling makes you more alert to your surroundings because anxiety is supposed to help you sense danger. Your fight or flight response kicks into high gear when you either flee the danger or face it. Rather than shirk from the interviewing for your executive-level job, giving the presentation at work or asking the boss for a raise, leverage your anxiety into a way to channel your energy. Recognize that these situations, while stressful, aren't life-or-death scenarios where someone's physical life is at stake.

People who use the energy boost gained from anxiety learn how to devote that energy towards accomplishing their goals. Rather than sit there and worry, top performers take action and do something about their feelings by turning anxiety into a good thing.

Don't let anxiety become a self-fulfilling prophecy of gloom and doom. The next time you experience anxiety, turn this feeling into the tool you need to conquer your next project or goal. There just might be a promotion on the other end of that scenario when you overcome your fears.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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  • ANGIE B.
    ANGIE B.

    I was diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder a year and a half ago and lost my job because it paralyzed me. I am now better and applying for jobs again and this article helped me put some of this that is creeping back in as I look for a job into such a great perspective. Thanks for sharing!

  • Daniel G.
    Daniel G.

    When experiencing time off work, and suddenly getting rehired gets me filled with so much anxiety, makes me not be able to sleep for three days! ---Daniel Garstka---

  • Susan McCray
    Susan McCray

    I found this piece to be helpful because I'm experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety right now.

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