Anxiety is something nature gave us to help us in dangerous situation. In prehistoric times, this response has helped people to react to danger more quickly. This way they had a larger chance of survival. By running faster and more quickly estimating the danger you are in, you increase the chances of being able to survive an attack by a tiger, for example.
If you read the situation above, you will notice that this type of situation does not - if ever - occur in our safe society. Dangerous animals are hardly around and thanks to technology and development we have gotten so comfortable that we do not need to worry about dangerous situations.
In spite of this development, we can still differentiate between healthy anxiety and unhealthy anxiety. Healthy anxiety in short is the anxiety which will help you to reach your goals, while unhealthy anxiety will stop you from doing so.
What does healthy anxiety entail?
When returning to prehistoric times, we can describe healthy anxiety as anxiety which helps us survive. However, in our modern-day society this is no longer applicable, so we need to find a new definition of healthy anxiety.
Healthy anxiety is the type of anxiety which does not rule your life, but rather stimulates you to perform more and better. For example, you can experience healthy anxiety when you have to do a presentation. This healthy anxiety will help you to memorize the text and to present better during the presentation. Healthy anxiety will not be the boss over your life, but only influences the part which you are anxious about. Fo example, you will never be worried about traffic when you have healthy anxiety regarding a presentation. Healthy anxiety does not stop you from, reaching your goals, but rather stimulates you to reach them. You know how it is, the night before an exam where you are slightly anxious about not passing, meaning you study harder.
Thus, this differentiates clearly from unhealthy anxiety in many ways, unhealthy anxiety being something which people with an anxiety disorder suffer from.
Fight, flight or freeze
These are responses which anxiety can trigger. This, too, dates back to prehistoric times. Anxiety will prepare you for dangerous situations where you can either fight, flight, or freeze. This has not changed throughout the centuries. When confronted with fear, you will notice that you showcase a certain reaction, which matches one of the reactions described above.
What does unhealthy anxiety entail?
Unhealthy anxiety is anxiety which consumes you, and which will slow you down. This type of anxiety is thus the opposite of healthy anxiety, and will make it so that you forget your text at your presentation, for example. This type of anxiety can also start to influence other areas of your life after a while. For example, you might start to worry about forgetting things when buying groceries, because you are not doing well at work. Unhealthy anxiety makes you doubt yourself, and after a while will give you the feeling that you are no longer in control of your own life.
Unhealthy anxiety, as opposed to healthy anxiety, also often occurs together with depression, because people with unhealthy anxiety stop believing in themselves with time. Furthermore, the anxiety will cause you to stop doing things which you might enjoy doing.
Do I experience healthy anxiety? Do the test!
If you want to know if you experience healthy anxiety, you can do the free online anxiety test here. This test will tell you to what extent you suffer from anxiety, and what its influence is on your general functioning.