While most individuals do not enjoy experiencing feelings of anxiety, anxiety has a purpose. Feelings of anxiety begin to occur when faced with a challenge. When faced with a challenge, we will estimate our skills and ability to successfully complete the challenge in comparison to the difficulty of the challenge. The higher our perceived discrepancy between our estimated abilities and difficulty of the challenge, the more likely we will experience anxiety. In theory, anxiety’s purpose is to prepare us to avoid or prevent dangerous situations where our skills do not match up to the difficulty of the challenge. So how do we overcome these feelings and physiological responses that are built within our system? By changing our perception of our skills and abilities and the difficulty of the task at hand. In many situations individuals may experience high levels of anxiety because their perceptions are inaccurate. These inaccurate perceptions must be corrected in order for anxiety to subside.
However, this does not mean all anxiety is bad. Anxiety researchers have found that a small to moderate amount of anxiety may lead individuals to improve their performance at tasks. Anxiety begins to negatively impact an individual when he or she begins to experience a high amount of anxiety. Researchers illustrate the positive and negative relationship between anxiety and performance by using the “Inverted U” curve. Imagine a graph with the shape of a mountain. Anxiety is on the X-axis and performance is on the Y-axis. As anxiety increases along the X-axis, performance increases along the Y-axis, up to a certain point (the top of the mountain) at which anxiety continues to increase along the X-axis and our performance drops along the Y-axis.
Therefore, low to moderate levels of anxiety, over a short period of time are beneficial by keeping us alert and tasked-focused, as well as motivating us to rise to the challenge at hand. However, beyond a certain point, too much anxiety begins to negatively impact our performance. Our ability to concentrate diminishes as our attention begins to shift away from an outward focus on the task, and towards an inward focus on ourselves. Furthermore, we may become vulnerable to biases in our thinking, causing us to incorrectly judge our ability to perform in the situation. For example, we may think to ourselves, “I am doing terribly,” or “I will never get this answer right.” Finally, when anxiety overstays its welcome, exhaustion arises. Human beings are not intended to perform well under these circumstances.
Thankfully for us there are many methods utilized to overcome anxiety.
The treatment for anxiety disorders is derived from research in biological, social, and psychological factors that contribute to anxiety disorders. This research base has led to the development of countless treatments. Capitol Care’s many behavioral and mental health programs are designed to treat anxiety and have proven to be highly effective.
To learn more, or if you or a loved one are seeking help for any mental health illness, contact Capitol Care at their Alabama department of mental health. Do not face this difficult problem on your own. We are confident that our treatment of anxiety disorders will continue to give hope and relief to individuals and families affected by anxiety disorders.