Living with anxiety can be overwhelming, smothering, and in some cases, debilitating. Living with anxiety can also be meaningful, purposeful, and embraced. Yes, that is what you just read. For those of you reading this post who suffer from anxiety, you may think I am kidding. I'm not.
The truth is that we all experience anxiety in one form or another. There are many purposes for the experience of this uncomfortable, yucky, and scary feeling. Anxiety is necessary for survival. Our bodies and brain provide feedback to us when we are in a potentially dangerous situation. Anxiety can motivate us to change our current situation. Anxiety prepares us for novel experiences and difficult tasks such as a job interview or test.
We know from research that a little bit of anxiety can be helpful, but too much or too little could hurt our performance. This is explained by the Yerkes-Dodson Law. A simple diagram can be found on this website.
Basically, anxiety can be used for helpful and purposeful activities, when in moderation. Too much anxiety is what leads to feelings of being smothered and wanting to avoid the world around us. Many students describe this feeling as their mind "going blank" when taking a test. Too little anxiety can lead to being unprepared for new and difficult tasks.
It is important to remember that anxiety has a purpose. We can check in to our surroundings, environment, habits, activities, and lifestyle. Is there a change that needs to be made?
This information is one of the reasons I created the Live Meaningfully With Anxiety Room. There are several recordings available that explain how to live with anxiety in a healthy way. These resources are completely and totally free. You can access them here.
Please seek the support of a mental health professional if you experience increased anxiety.