Cathryn Ilani Stress

We all have moments where we feel a bit anxious, and we don’t tend to feel too warmly about them.

But are there some instances where those extra butterflies in your stomach might be a good thing?

It should be noted that if you struggle with anxiety, especially in conjunction with depression or other mental health issues, this obviously does not apply. Stress is on the rise in America, with chronic stress contributing to an increase in conditions ranging from a loss of sleep and a lack of appetite to heart disease and gastrointestinal problems.

With that said, here are a few reasons – in a colloquial sense, at least – why feeling a bit anxious about something in the short term may be beneficial.

Red Flag

We don’t feel stress and anxiety without reason (as much as it may feel that way sometimes). The chemical reactions which are responsible for causing stress and anxiety exist in large part to alert us to danger. That sense of anxiety you have is one of the initial aspects of the so-called fight or flight reflex. If you’re sensing a red flag in a given situation and avoid danger as a result, you can thank your anxiety for that.

Motivation System

In addition to being part of your body’s internal alarm system, the chemical reactions which are responsible for causing your anxiety can also act as motivators. If you feel more motivated or focused while under pressure, you once again have the chemical processes behind your anxiety to thank. This can be a signal that you need to take a deep breath and look at the situation again. There’s even a term for this motivating anxiety – eustress. 

Being able to control eustress can lead to an uptick in your performance on a given task. If you’ve seen divas that seem to own the biggest stages or star athletes who always seem to come through in the clutch, chances are they are masters of managing their eustress levels.

Master your eustress and make your anxiety work for you in the short term.