Turning anxiety into something positive

Turning anxiety into something positive

by Vanessa Ng 17 Jan 2020

As surprising as it sounds, anxiety and excitement are feelings that both stem from the same emotional place. The only difference lies in what can be called “comfortable unfamiliarity”.  Think about it – both reactions are the result of being exposed to situations that exist outside of your definition of the norm. The line however, is drawn between the situations your mind deems acceptable/safe and the ones you don’t. Considering the amount of parallel between the two, it is actually possible to use anxiety to your own advantage.


If we channel our thought into viewing anxiety as a form of excitement, we can perform better. Guiding your adrenaline rush in the right direction is important. Instead of giving in to your fight-or-flight response, try to view the upcoming task in a positive light. Stand tall with confidence and frame the situation positively. Before negative thoughts on failure, embarrassment or potential ridicule set in, fill your head with thoughts about how positive engagement with the issue at hand can stand to benefit you in the future. If it’s a board room presentation you’re sweating bullets over, think about how your career will benefit when you power through it, leaving a solid impression.


You have the power to influence your thoughts and action, and ultimately, how others perceive you as a person. If you are unsure of how to stop negative thoughts, try writing it down on a piece of paper. Start by listing negative and positive thoughts or phrases side by side. For instance, you may be bumped about a new assignment that you are unfamiliar with, and may seem a little out of your comfort zone. You may not have the required knowledge to perform the task at that point in time, and the tight deadline can induce anxiety and stress in you. However, give that thought a positive reversal by assuring yourself that the only reason you were assigned with this particular responsibility is because someone believed that you possessed the requisite skill set to handle it.


You can also be proactive in seeking help or look for similarities in past situations that you were involved in. This gives you the chance to connect with others for their advice and is also a great learning opportunity. By taking a hands-on approach to the situation, you will also be able to expand your knowledge on the subject matter. This contributes to your expertise as an individual and team player, both in and out of the workplace.


Worrying can be productive, but only if you act upon it. Allowing the situation to take emotional control is akin to resigning yourself to defeat. Thought it might be the oldest of clichés, believing in yourself really is half the battle. More often than not, the problem may not be as bad as you think – sometimes it just takes a different approach!