The next aspect of life that improves with mild to moderate levels of anxiety is academic performance. Obviously, if someone is a nervous wreck going into a test, their performance will suffer. Interestingly though, students with very low levels of anxiety will not perform well either. It turns out that there is a “sweet spot” of anxiety that motivates the anxious person to study and take the task seriously without being self-defeating.
It is easy to see how you can apply the same ideas to the work place. If you have an important assignment that needs to be completed, who are you going to give it to? Someone with very low levels of anxiety may let it sit on his desk for a few weeks before getting around to it. On the other hand, someone with a mild level of anxiety will want to please her superiors, start work early on the project and display a high level of conscientiousness. In this case, the task will be done quickly and completely. It’s a win for anxiety.
Performance advantages extend beyond the classroom and office. Any physical or athletic task is improved with mild anxiety as well.
As mentioned earlier, there is a link between anxiety and the “fight or flight” response. Part of what makes this response work is adrenaline, which is the hormone released in stressful situations. It can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, while expanding the air passages of the lungs, enlarging your pupils and redistributing blood to the muscles. This means that you can see better and have a better muscular response during times that adrenaline is present.
Athletes become very skilled at exploiting their anxiety to boost performance and hand-eye coordination.
Commonly, people with anxiety are particular about their surroundings. They like their pencils to be on the left and their pens on the right. Their paper towels are always well-stocked, and you can eat off of their kitchen floor. Another benefit of mild to moderate anxiety is a high level of cleanliness.
Of course, there is a fine line between being really clean and being obsessively clean, but people with anxiety do well to stay on the right side of the line. If you have anxiety, there is a good chance that you are clean, organized and in control of your surroundings. This allows you an opportunity to burn off some of your anxious energy in appropriate ways. Being clean and organized helps you focus on more important things.
Are you planning a family trip soon? Are you organizing a surprise party for a loved one? If so, your anxiety is going to be a needed attribute. People with anxiety are familiar with anticipating a number of situations and scenarios that could occur. Because of this, they do well to plan for numerous contingencies.
If an anxious person is planning the party, you won’t run out of ice or forget the little forks, and the cake will always have the right number of candles in it. If the anxious person is planning a trip, you will always know when in-check is at the hotel. You will never get lost, and you will know the best route around the amusement park.
Next Page: memory and focus