5 Benefits of Anxiety
There are benefits to anxiety although my anxiety is debilitating at times. It prevents me from doing the things I want and should do. Some days it takes a lot of courage just to leave the house. Anxiety is a huge part of my life, and it's really difficult to think there could be anything positive about it ("Advantages of Anxiety, Disadvantages of Anxiety"). However, there are a few benefits to anxiety, and I hope this article can shed just a tiny bit of light in the darkness of those who struggle with it.
There Are Benefits to Anxiety Despite the Problems It Causes
My anxiety makes me more aware and vigilant.
When I was a teenager, I totaled my car the day after getting my license. I was inexperienced and hit the brakes on black ice. Surprisingly, I walked away with nothing but a scratch on my chin. However, that terrifying helplessness I felt when I lost complete control of my car haunts me to this day. Every morning I check the weather before leaving and test the brakes a few times in the neighborhood before getting on main roads. Everyone should do that.
I know it's not healthy that every time I climb into my SUV I'm scared I'm going to get into an accident, but I really should acknowledge that in many ways my anxiety about driving has made me a better driver. I am very aware of my environment and hypervigilant of the cars around me. I don't like it when other people are in the car with me, but when others ride along, they often compliment my driving. My anxiety has probably saved me from a few accidents.
Anxiety makes me more empathetic.
When I see others that are visibly nervous, my heart aches. I know what that feels like, and I feel like I'm right there with them. I feel like when I'm anxious, I'm also more sensitive. I not only pick up on what affects me but also what affects others. I'm convinced that anxiety is contagious, so it's easy to sense what others are feeling ("The Anxious Empath: Anxiety and Other People's Feelings").
I am always prepared thanks to my anxiety.
I work for a small arts center, and I plan every detail of the groups I facilitate at least a week in advance. I work on the calendar of events three months out. I started this job last summer, and leading groups has always made me nervous. However, it has gotten a little easier over time. I feel the more prepared I am, the smoother the group will go.
I always carry my planner, journal, sketchbook, and notebook everywhere with me - even grocery shopping. You just never know if you'll need it. I am constantly making lists and I'm never late to anything. My anxiety keeps me super prepared for almost anything. Whether or not things go as planned is another story.
Anxiety makes me cautious.
I'm very careful and thorough when working on projects - especially for work. If anything looks wrong or sticks out to me, it will haunt me. Even though I'm moving at a snail's pace to make sure everything is right, it usually pays off and my work gets noticed.
My anxiety makes me protective of my loved ones.
Motherhood has taken my anxiety to another level. I lay awake at night with all these bizarre situations running through my mind on how my daughter could get hurt. I just cringe. During the day I am doing everything possible to keep her safe. I feel like being anxious sometimes keeps me from being careless or letting my guard down.
As excruciating as anxiety can be, I feel it is still a big part of who I am and the things that I do. Anxiety does more harm than good for me, but remembering the handful of positive aspects makes it a tiny bit more tolerable ("Five Character Strengths of People Living with Anxiety").
Rahm, M. (2019, January 2). 5 Benefits of Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, January 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2019/1/5-benefits-of-anxiety