Helpful and unhelpful anxiety

Learn what is Helpful and unhelpful anxiety and how to manage it.
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Some levels of anxiety are common and are there to help us get on with our daily life and to be productive.

Helpful anxiety can be are positive and help you stay calm and focused on the task at hand. This type of anxiety is generally short and encouraging.

For example if you have a work deadline or a test, helpful anxiety can get us on the road to being productive.

How can helpful anxiety make us more productive?

  1. Attention – Our attention shifts to what is most important to us when we feel anxious. It helps us stay focused on the particular issue/task.
  2. Motivation – We usually feel anxious when there are negative consequences to not getting a task done. These feelings motivate and drive us to do the tasks we don’t feel like doing. For example finishing that assignment that is due this week.
  3. Preparation – Anxiety drives you to prepare for the situation and cover worst case scenarios. For example preparing for a job interview, thinking of the possible questions that will be asked and thinking about possible answers.
  4. Protection – Feelings of anxiety is our flight-fight response telling us we need to be aware and look after ourselves. We become aware of protecting ourselves in situations that can cause us harm, such as a fire.
  5. Communication – When we feel anxious, talking about it often helps. Communicating with our loved ones helps us solve our problems, in particular any issue that is making us feel anxious. As when we are anxious we are not able to problem solve as well as when we are calm.

Too much unhelpful anxiety can become consuming and debilitating.

Unhelpful anxiety can be thoughts that are negative and make the situation seem much worse than it really is. Unhelpful anxiety can also be anxiety that is not rational and doesn’t have a realistic explanation.

For example an unhelpful anxiety pay be anxiety about social situation, or using public transport. Too much anxiety can make you feel overwhelmed (sometimes for days), and cause panic. This type of anxiety usually stops us from being productive.

If you want to read more about anxiety, feel free to check our anxiety information.

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