Anxiety, by definition, is “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.” Those are all considered rather negative effects. Human beings like to feel safe and secure. We don’t like to feel tension or worry. We might feel anxiety if we are facing a problem at work, before making a difficult decision, right before taking a test, or while we are in active conflict with someone. Anxiety can cause our blood pressure and our heart rate to rise. Sometimes when we experience anxiety, muscles in our body tense up, we may start sweating, and we might experience headaches, or even nausea.
But is all anxiety bad? The answer might surprise you.
Anxiety can actually be really good for you. Anxiety is a perfectly normal response. It helps keep us safe because it is linked to our instinctual fight or flight mechanism. Anxiety helps our bodies become more alert and more ready for action, heightening our performance and stamina. Experiencing what is called optimal anxiety is directly linked to better performance.
What is optimal anxiety?
Anxiety is measured on a curve graph. Experience too much or too little anxiety and performance is negatively affected. Experience just the right amount of anxiety and your performance is maximized. That sweet-spot on the anxiety curve is called optimal anxiety.
Finding optimal anxiety takes practice, and it is different for everyone. However, consistently widening our boundaries, or our natural comfort zones, a little further each time gets us closer to achieving optimal anxiety and peak performance.
Experiencing a healthy dose of anxiety is good for you. So today, step outside your comfort zone and push yourself a little more in whatever area of your life that could most benefit from the growth.
The best things in life are often waiting for you at the exit ramp of your comfort zone.Karen Salmansohn