Why Anxiety is NOT Bad

26th May 2023
Read time:  1 minute 20sec
It’s recently been Mental Health Awareness Week, and the theme this year has been Anxiety.

And a lot of the conversation is about how to reduce your anxiety.

Yet, I have another belief alongside this.

That Anxiety is NOT bad.

That you should face your anxieties and fears (and regularly).

“Why the f*** would I do that Lewis?” – I’m glad you asked.

Yerkes-Dodson Law shows us that as anxiety (arousal) increases so does performance, until an optimal level. But once anxiety reaches a point where it becomes too much and performance drops off.

Simply put, you need anxiety to prepare you for performance.

Anxiety makes us alert to ‘threats’.

It readies the systems for action and decision making.

The earlier you can pick up threat, the earlier you can do something about it.

Being super chilled out (under-aroused), larthargic or even bored, is no good either – we aren’t ready to perform.

Think about the feeling of lying on your sofa in your pyjamas – pure bliss right?

In that state, you’re not ready to take on the All Blacks rugby team are you?

The trouble is, some of us allow it to go the other end and reach levels that so high in anxiety – that are almost debilating.

That’s where we do need to intervene and dial it down a bit.

We need to find a level that allows us to find that optimum.

But running from it, or trying to be less afraid of what brings us anxiety is not helpful either.

So how do we become better suited to deal with anxiety?

Bravery.

When people are diagnosed with Agoraphobia (the fear of going outside) they are treated with exposure therapy.

You, incrementally, expose them to what they fear.

You make them braver.

So instead of trying to be less afraid of what is bringing you anxiety, face it.

If it’s a performance under pressure – start by adding a small bit of pressure to your training.

If it’s a tough conversation you need to have – start by sending a text.

If it’s a studying for an exam – start by reading one page.

By facing these uncomfortable situations in a systematic way, you’ll begin to feel confident that you can handle anxiety.

Task (should you wish to accept it)

  1. Write down a situation that brings you fear/anxiety
  2. Dial up the bravery.
  3. Pick one small challenge that addresses this anxiety.
  4. Set a time to achieve it.
  5. Increase the challenge over time.

Example:

  1. Anxious when serving in a tennis match
  2. Do more serving in training
  3. Have a coach or friend score you
  4. Do it in my next training session
  5. In two weeks – invite more people to watch/do it live on social media

If you want to take a deeper dive into your anxieties…

Sign up to the Controlling Anxiety Mindset Masterclass

Wednesday 31st May, 7.30pm

If you missed it…you can catch it in the library of Past Masterclasses in the MindStrong Academy as a part of your membership.

Join the Academy

 

Whenever you're ready, there is a couple of ways I can help you:

MindStrong Sport App – Mental Skills Training for Athletes

Personal Mindset Coaching - Contact for more

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