We have explored various aspects of anxiety over recent weeks, and how the condition can affect people in different circumstances. We’ve talked about those coming to terms with bereavement, people going through a mid-life crisis and even the unique mental health challenges that can be part and parcel of professional sport.
We’ve also discussed ways to combat anxiety, both through lifestyle changes and looking at the physical causes such as serotonin deficiency, and the role that a natural solution like the 5-HTP+ patch can play. But here’s a question to consider. Can a certain amount of anxiety actually be beneficial? Researchers say that under some circumstances, stress is not necessarily a bad thing. They refer to eustress, or “good stress” as an important driver to boost motivation and essentially to “keep us on our toes.”
Anxiety is a natural response
Our bodies are incredibly complex machines, and every feeling or response is there for a reason. That pain in your ankle is a signal to tell you something is wrong down there and to make you get treatment for it – if you didn’t get the pain message, you’d just carry on as usual and do more and more damage. Taking a pain killer relieves the symptoms, but it doesn’t fix the ankle. Anxiety works in a similar, but more subtle way. It is related to the “fight or flight” response in animals and warns you that there is some sort of threat you need to think about. It is therefore important to understand why you are feeling anxious.
What is your anxiety telling you?
The anxiety signal could be due to a serotonin deficiency as opposed to some external threat or problem, in which case that is relatively easy to address. But it could equally be that this is only treating the symptom, not the cause. If your anxiety is due to a fundamental area of your life that needs attention, such as a relationship or career that is going off-kilter, do the equivalent of treating that painful ankle, by addressing the cause.
Anxiety can be a motivator
You’ve probably heard some people saying they “thrive on stress.” It sounds a little clichéd, but we understand what they mean. If you have a challenge ahead of you, whether it is preparing a presentation at work, running a marathon or taking part in a TV game show, it is often the case that you will perform better if the adrenalin is flowing and you are pumped up than if you are feeling completely relaxed about the task ahead. However, it can also work the other way if a feeling of tension and anticipation tips into the realms of panic.
Remember, the human body is an amazing thing, and every feeling or sensation has a reason behind it. Accepting and understanding the root cause of your anxiety is the first step towards taking control of it and using it as a tool to achieve your goals and lead a more rewarding life.