The Upsides of Anxiety

By Erica Cramer, LMSW

Many clients start therapy because they feel anxious — they excessively worry about their relationships, careers, finances, and a plethora of other issues. Through the therapeutic process, they hope to learn coping mechanisms to control, limit, and possibly even eliminate their worrying altogether. This popular belief that we need to reduce anxiety insinuates that it is always a negative feeling. However, worrying can sometimes be a productive way to think about a situation. Here are five reasons why anxiety can be positive:

Anxiety can incite action. When you are worried about something, it may encourage you to be proactive about the situation and address your concerns. For example, if you are worried about a pain that a loved one is having you may encourage them to schedule a doctor’s appointment to find out if there is a legitimate reason to be concerned.

Anxiety shows that you are a critical thinker. It demonstrates that you are not the type of person that accepts situations at face value, and you take time to consider potential outcomes. But if you find yourself worrying only about the potential negative outcomes of a situation, try to think of the positive outcomes as well. Think about which outcomes are more likely to occur and perhaps even rate them accordingly.

Anxiety can keep you safe. Whether it is double checking if you door is locked or trying to determine the source when you hear a strange noise, anxiety can encourage you to be aware of your surroundings and, as a result, protect you from potentially dangerous situations.

Anxiety can inspire you to explore new opportunities. If someone is worried about the future of their company and fears they may lose their job, it can encourage them to explore new career opportunities. This worry could lead them to find a position that is more fulfilling or lucrative. In this instance, anxiety can encourage someone to take a positive step forward that they may not have otherwise.

Anxiety can help you be prepared. If you are worried about a trip you are taking, it may encourage you to be more thorough when you pack and plan the logistics of your trip. If you are worried about your finances, it may encourage you to put money into a savings account or to not spend so frivolously. These are just two of the many possible ways anxiety may encourage you to be better prepared for this future.

Erica Cramer is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you would like support with coping with anxiety, visit cobbpsychotherapy.com to learn more about how therapy can help.