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Anxiety is Good for You

Why Anxiety is Actually a Good Thing

Ever wonder what you'd think about if you weren't so anxious all the time? What would fill the space that is now occupied by anxious thoughts? It seems like a dream, to be free of worry, right? Wrong. Anxiety, it turns out, is actually a good thing.

David Barlow, who is the founder and director emeritus of the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University and the author of Anxiety and Its Disorders, explains to The Science of Us: "Humans are particularly well-situated to be able to anticipate the future and plan for the future." Basically, anxiety is what drives us to accomplish tasks.

"The anxiety is something that motivates you to plan your approach to these challenges in such a way that you feel you're prepared," Barlow said. "In doing so, you perform at a much higher level."

While Barlow acknowledges that anxiety disorders are harmful, normal amounts of anxious feelings are "largely responsible for the survival of the species."

"People will accomplish more, perform better, will act in more appropriate and fruitful ways for having been anxious," he concludes. So if a healthy dose of anxiety is the key to living more productive lives...then I guess it's time to embrace the stress!

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