How to Beat Anxiety with Excitement

We all have experiences throughout our lives that create feelings of anxiety leading up to them. Sometimes the fear is so overwhelming that it causes us to achieve less than what we know we are capable of or bail all together. In an attempt to remedy this, we often tell ourselves to calm down, or, even worse, someone else tells you to calm down. Has that ever worked ever? I doubt it. But there is something that will – getting excited. Here’s why and how you can beat anxiety with excitement.

How to Beat Anxiety with Excitement

It turns out that anxiety and excitement have pretty much the same effect on our body – a heightened sense of arousal, quicker heart rate, and release of cortisol. The difference is that excitement is considered positive while anxiety is considered negative, which means it’s all about our perception of this state of being. Cognitively reframing feelings of anxiety as feelings of excitement will not only alleviate some of the fear, but it actually improves performance.

 

In a study by Dr Alison Wood Brooks, professor at Harvard Business School, the participants were put into different situations that would cause anxiety or stage fright. Some people participated in karaoke singing, others had to compete in a public speaking contest, while the last group was assigned a difficult math exam. I know all of these sound like a nightmare to me.

 

Within each of these groups, they were also given different instructions to prepare mentally beforehand. They were assigned to either tell themselves to keep calm, tell themselves to get excited, or tell themselves nothing. The groups who told themselves to get excited outperformed the other participants in all three situations.

 

As opposed to being in an anxious mindset where you feel threatened and predict of all the bad things that can happen, they determined that getting excited creates an opportunity mindset. When you are in an opportunity mindset, you naturally think of all the good things that can happen.

 

Mentally reframing anxiety as excitement alleviates some fear and actually improves performance. Click To Tweet

 

To beat anxiety with excitement and reap the benefits, simply tell yourself “I am excited” or “get excited” the next time you have a daunting task, event, or other looming situation. If you want to take it a step further, it’s also helpful to list off ways that the situation has potential to go well, benefit you, or help others.

 

I have done some pretty extreme activities over the years – from white water rafting to skydiving to bungee jumping. I was absolutely terrified before each one, but they all have an obvious element of fun and adventurousness. I was able to push through the fear and go for it because I was excited for the opportunity and the enjoyment of the experience. If we apply this same sense of excitement to situations like public speaking or a job interview, we can create the same positive result.

 

What activities make you feel anxious? Was there a time when you beat anxiety with excitement?

How to Beat Anxiety with Excitement

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7 Comment

  1. Reply
    Mary-the boondocks blog
    July 8, 2016 at 9:18 am

    That is a very interesting idea Grace. I guess it all has to do with how we view things, positively (excited) or negatively (anxious). I geet very anxious when people fight or I am in conflict with someone. Do you think I could help to resolve it in this way? Maybe if I think positive thoughts and have a will to resolve things. I want to thank you for joining us this week over at Sweet Inspiration. I’ll be pinning and tweeting your post.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      July 8, 2016 at 11:21 am

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! I definitely get anxious as well with conflict; that is a difficult situation. I’m not sure how effective this strategy would be to combat anxiety in that circumstance because this focuses on changing your mindset before the event, whereas with conflict it’s often spontaneous. Though if you knew ahead of time that you were going to confront someone, then I could see it being useful. I think your idea about having positive thoughts and focusing on resolution are definitely the way to go. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  2. Reply
    Linda Todd
    July 11, 2016 at 6:03 am

    This is for everyone as actually the most versed individual can also get anxious about a speech or being in front of the crowd. However, fear, anxiety and the lack of confidence can and will hinder one’s performance. I enjoy your article.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      July 11, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      That is so true. Thank you!

  3. Reply
    Michele
    July 11, 2016 at 8:42 am

    I can see that anxiety and excitement are part of the same package. Some days I am excited, at other times the same exact experience can fill me with dread. It often depends on my mood, the level of sleep, and even the clothes that I have on. Anxiety is a huge issue in our culture, especially among young people. I am always looking for ways to overcome it.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      July 11, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      Yes! Great insight about mood, sleep, etc. Those are certainly factors that can impact our experiences as well and either help or hinder our excitement vs anxiety.

  4. Reply
    Rosie Phoenix
    October 9, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    Currently terrified of going to the cinema for the first time after a bad experience. I can’t stand the loud noises and intense heat. But after reading this, I don’t feel so daunted. I started feeling anxious or what I thought was anxiety at the beginning of the month at the prospect of it coming ever closer. It’s as if I was anxiety at the prospect of feeling anxious or is that the feeling of excientment and I can’t recognize it because it feels so alien to me.

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