Should We Always Be Afraid of Anxiety?

For most people, anxiety is a burden. It makes them feel as if they cannot control their lives and that they must endure a lot of distress when doing things that make them nervous. In the DSM V, the psychiatrist’s and psychologist’s diagnostic manual, there are 11 different anxiety “disorders.” 

But, as a recent article by Christina Caron in the New York Times Wellness Advice section shows, there are times when anxiety can actually help us. She acknowledges that too much anxiety can be harmful or get in the way of performance, but states that the right amount can help people “anticipate obstacles, remain cautious and stay organized. “

The first thing to do is recognize when you have too much anxiety and learn to moderate it. Of course, that is what a lot of people spend time learning to do in therapy. Things like breathing techniques, cognitive restructuring skills, and physical activity can help reduce the level of anxiety so that it is manageable.

Some people spend too much time asking themselves why they feel anxious or what they should do about it. Instead, some psychologists propose that the focus be on managing your anxiety instead of trying to gain insight into its causes. Anxiety can be a key that you need to make changes in your life and it can guide you to listen to your body, your emotions, and your inner self-talk.

Anxiety can also help you to confront things that you are afraid of. You may find that your anticipation of how bad things will be is greater than the actual experience. By acknowledging the discrepancy between the two, you may be able to take small steps to become less fearful.

For others, anxiety can lead to extreme cautiousness. This can be a problem when it results in being overly controlling or perfectionistic. But if you can direct your cautiousness into conscientiousness, you may do a better job of making plans, allowing for contingencies, and letting your preparation guide you to enjoyment instead of anxiety.

We all know that a little bit of nervousness can help us prepare for a test, gear up for a job interview, or deal with someone difficult. For some, it means that we will perform at our best. But if you are one of those who needs help getting your anxiety under control, call me to learn more about your potential to achieve lifelong anxiety management skills. Dr. Block 732-933-1333