When I was first diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), I remember immediately feeling like it was the end of the world. I didn’t want to be associated with a mental illness because I didn’t want to feel like there was something “wrong with me.” But, over the course of the past few years, I’ve discovered that there are actually so many strengths that I’ve gained from having anxiety.
You must be thinking, “how can something like anxiety be beneficial?” While there are definitely plenty of not-so-great things about anxiety, here are five things I’ve discovered about having anxiety that have actually been really helpful in my life.
I’ve gotten really good at handling high-pressure situations.
A lot of things give me anxiety. Some are miniscule things, like having too many dishes sitting in the sink, and others are more big picture, like what I’m going to do with my life. But having anxiety has allowed me to handle high-pressure situations really well. In a sense, I almost feel as if I perform better under pressure. Oftentimes, anxiety makes me overthink a lot, and high-pressure situations leave no room for letting my thoughts get to me.
Anxiety allows me to evaluate my needs.
After dealing with anxiety for several years now, I’ve learned exactly what my body needs and when it needs it. Oftentimes, it’s easy to neglect your body’s wants and needs, but anxiety has taught me the importance of listening to my body and giving it what it needs, when it needs it. When I sense myself getting anxious, I’m able to take a step back, breathe, and decide what steps to take in order to best serve my needs at that time.
Anxiety allows me to be overly on top of my shit.
One of the things that gives me extreme anxiety is deadlines. Even if I receive an assignment that isn’t due for weeks, I get overly anxious about completing the assignment in a timely manner. My anxiety has allowed me to be extremely on top of my to-do list, and I have become accustomed to completing tasks and assignments far before the deadline out of fear that if I don’t complete it early, it’ll never get done. This mentality has prevented me from ever turning in an assignment late, which has served my grades very well!
Anxiety has helped me discover my fullest potential.
Before being diagnosed with anxiety, I didn’t know what my passions were. I liked things like music and dance, but I was never interested in turning either of those things into full blown passions. Only after I was diagnosed with anxiety did I discover my passion for writing. Writing served as a creative outlet for me when I was going through my darkest time and when my anxiety was at its worst.
I’ve learned how to find balance in my life. Anxiety has taught me the importance of balancing my work life with my personal life. I’m naturally a very hard worker, but my anxiety has taught me that it is extremely important to take breaks to focus on my personal wants, needs, and aspirations.
While anxiety is definitely a difficult thing to deal with on a daily basis, I believe it is important to recognize the positive elements of any situation. Yes, anxiety does take its toll, and has lots of negative consequences. You cannot discount the severity of these effects. However, it is important to note how the hard parts of life can help develop your personal strengths. If it wasn’t for my anxiety, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
Written by: Jordan Peterkofsky