Anxiety is a most familiar word particularly in the midst of a pandemic. It is effecting masses of people, both old and young. Anxiety traditionally has been associated with adults, but it is common to see it even in elementary school aged children now. Anxiety also goes hand in hand with depression, but can be a singular feeling as well. 

What exactly is anxiety? The textbook definition describes it as “a feeling of nervousness, worry, or unease.” The feeling of anxiety is usually about an upcoming event or something with an uncertain outcome. People talk about anxiety attacks-feelings of shortness of breath, a racing heart, restlessness, and excess worry. Sometimes it is hard to identify what our anxiety is about, and for sometimes, it’s easy. What we do know, is that it can be crippling and frightening. 

But anxiety isn’t all bad, in fact some anxiety can be used to your advantage. Scientists have proven that there are positive effects to anxiety. Good stress, now referred to as *eustress* helps us maintain excitement and motivation. Anxiety is also a warning system that we need to learn to listen to. It tells us when something isn’t working for us. All we have to do is learn how to tune into it! Anxiety is also a motivator!

If there is a defining test you have to take, anxiety can promote good performance and in some cases, enhance memory. 

It has also been studied that those with anxiety have deeper empathy for friends and colleagues, thereby making them a better friend than the general population. People with anxiety have also been known to have great leadership skills being that they plan for different outcomes,  are cautious thinkers, and careful decision makers. 

As with most things, our strengths are also our weaknesses. In the case of anxiety, we can use it as a positive tool for better outcomes in our lives. It takes a little guidance and help to rewire our thinking. But the work it takes to get there is life altering and totally worthwhile.