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In the Company of Anxiety: A Gentle Reminder to Be Kind to Yourself

Anxiety, it's a real tough cookie, isn't it? But here's the deal – it's got a message, a profound one. You know, existentialist thinkers often ponder the heavy stuff like death, nothingness, choice, and freedom. It's like facing the abyss, right?

Now, some folks try to dodge these deep thoughts by taking on tasks like scrubbing toilets, but here's the thing: the darkness is a natural part of life, and guess what? It's part of us too. If we try to sweep it under the rug, we're essentially abandoning our own need to feel safe and secure.

Regular light would say that anxiety is a sign that you are irrational or sick. But in the dark, it would be said that anxiety is a sign of being emotionally intelligent.

It is about experiencing life in a deeper & more meaningful manner. Individuals can gain a better understanding of the potential stressors. When anxiety comes into play, it can make the world a less threatening place, assuaging feelings of aversive hyperarousal, and getting those in the grasp of it to more easily return to a state of being that is calm.

It is understood that to some extent Emotional Quotient is innate, yet as per studies, it can be developed & enhanced as well. Anxiety, as an emotion, is evolutionarily advantageous and has benefits that can help us thrive.

It is known that motion creates emotions. Anxiety is a specific type of emotion. Anxiety goes beyond the simple fight-or-flight response. It provides insight into potential future outcomes that could go in either direction. Anxiety emerges for us to up our guard, and protect us from danger so that we permit ourselves to react faster to emergencies. It has also been observed that anxiety-ridden people can actually avoid fatal accidents. A certain level of anxiety can help people anticipate obstacles, remain cautious, and stay organized. It gets into priming our body for action and simultaneously also increases our performance and stamina.

It, in fact, helps us become more focused, more persistent, innovative & even hopeful.

Anxiety, which propels under uncertainty, is often an uncomfortable emotion. The key is to manage anxiety rather than suppressing or evading it. Furthermore, it can assist in gaining clarity, helping us differentiate between what's working and what's not working in our lives. By being extra careful in the face of fear or danger, anxiety can also help us channel these tendencies into conscientiousness. In moments of imminent danger, our instincts typically guide us toward making the most appropriate decisions.

So, here’s a checklist to follow, when one encounters anxiety.

First and foremost, it's essential to recognize the presence of anxiety in those who experience it. Embrace its existence, and if possible, create some emotional distance to view it objectively. Understand that anxiety often signals a misalignment between your actions and the situation at hand. Treat it like a subordinate and remind yourself that it's merely an emotional response. You not only have the power to control it but also to gain mastery over it. Consider it your ally, providing you with an opportunity to acknowledge and coexist with it as you would with a friend in the making.

Each and every person is characterized by an optimal level of anxiety – the juncture where mental productivity and performance are at their peak. This is the ‘sweet spot’ which tends to deliver the optimum from the person, performs relatively well & is also aptly prepared to face the unpredictable outcome rather than being debilitated with fear by it.

The above graph is applicable best to complex and difficult tasks. The relationship between arousal and performance is more linear for simple tasks.

So if such are the benefits of anxiety that shall help us to evolve as an individual, why not develop a compatibility with it and make it work to our advantage? The dark side of anxiety could get lighter & manifest itself to soothe our senses rather than aggravate them. Such self-regulation techniques are imperative for learning independently favorably and sustaining a life-long active & growing worthy status. These feats, when accumulated, shall only go further to form a bubble that can influence, inspire & integrate the individual as a whole.

As they say

“Do not let your difficulties brim you with extreme anxiety, after all, it is only in the darkest nights that stars shine more brightly.”

Guest article by Kavita Jhaveri | Edited by the Team @ Good Wave Foundation

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