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Here is why anxiety is not a bad thing

Monty Majeed
11th Nov 2016
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Worried about an upcoming presentation? An impending appraisal? A forthcoming meeting? Whatever it may be, being anxious and then worrying about being anxious is a common situation that we find ourselves in, especially at work. However, if experts are to be believed, not only is a little bit of anxiety harmless but occasionally even necessary to keep you hooked onto something. Trying to calm yourself down, therefore, may not be the best way out, they say.

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A study conducted at Harvard Business School found that when participants interpreted their nerves before public presentations as excitement, they gave better performances than those who tried to calm themselves down or relax. The only way to keep anxiety from going overboard is by accepting it and trying to use it to your advantage. See it as a motivator that keeps you on your toes and then it will feel like a strength rather than the weakness it is usually positioned as. So here’s why a little anxiety is good for your career:

We make better choices when anxious

Yes, that’s true and if you don’t want to take our word for it, here’s what experts have to say. Neurologist Antonio Damasio in his book Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain found that victims of brain damage who have had regions of their brains involving emotions, anxiety, and fear removed couldn’t take objective decisions. Instead, they were found to be highly indecisive. A study conducted by the Institute of Psychology and Sports Sciences has shown that in a gambling task, subjects who were anxious ended up taking better decisions and performing well. The researchers concluded by saying that anxiety should be seen as an “adaptive, protective behavioural motive” that helps us make better choices.

We work harder when anxious

The reason we feel anxious about something is because its outcome matters to us. So once you are invested in, say, an upcoming interview or presentation, a bit of anxiety will goad you in the right direction while prepping. Your reflexes will be in top shape and you will be able to perform better, says a study published in Brain and Cognition. The results will mostly be in your favour as well.

We are more productive around anxious people

Having an anxious person in your team can also be like having a vigilant watchdog. According to studies, those who are anxiously attached tend to be better at spotting liars, sniffing danger, and predicting when things may go wrong for your firm. This keeps the whole team on their toes, upping their productivity.

We are smarter if anxious

You no longer need to feel guilty about getting anxious easily because it might just be a sign that you are all brains! Studies have repeatedly found that those with anxiety perform better in IQ tests. Anxious people would have thought of all the possibilities and figured ways to navigate and mitigate risks that may arise in everything they do, which is why anxiety also correlates with fewer accidents. So fear or worry helps us prepare better to deal with all kinds of situations that may arise.

A little bit of everyday anxiety is not your enemy. It is only a sign that your body is giving you to pull up your socks and face the music. Use it to motivate yourself to be more prepared and work harder towards your goals. Try to turn it on its head and use it positively to get ahead in your career. How do you deal with everyday anxiety? Let us know in the comments section below.

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