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Description: What do you, or how do you, think about anxiety? When you feel anxiety rising is that a sign you should stop what you are doing, or do less of it? Anxiety is typically seen as a sign that something potentially threatening or dangerous is starting or is about to happen and we can easily see anxiety as a sign to withdraw from the field, as it were. But what if we were to think about the signaling system that is made up of our physical and associated psychological experiences with anxiety as a sort of wild horse that, if tamed, might be bent to our advantage? Think about the similarities between the feelings associated with anxiety and those associated with (anticipatory) excitement. Ignoring the future event involved can you describe, in detail, the differences between the two? If not, what might that suggest to you as a way different way of thinking about or a different mindset related to anxiety? Think about that and ant other mindset shifts that may come to mind and then read the article linked below, written by a psychologist who has thought a LOT about these questions.

Source: How to Harness Your Anxiety, Alicia H. Clark, Mind, The New York Times.<

Date: October 16, 2018

Photo Credit: Aart-Jan Venema

Article Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/16/well/mind/how-to-harness-your-anxiety.html

Alicia Clark, in the article linked above and in her book on the same topic suggests we work on thinking differently about anxiety. What is anxiety? A signal that something bad is possible going to happen? Or perhaps it is just a signal that we need to pay attention to an impending challenge/opportunity. Anxiety is anticipatory, but what if we view it as an indication that we need to gear up our problem-solving resources? Reframing your thoughts about anxiety not as a portent of doom but as a sign of potentially positive change can be helpful. Stepping into rather than away from our feeling of anxiety can make a big difference in your outcomes. Sound too simple, or too good to be true, well have a look at some of research linked in the article and in the residence list below because you should never just take my or anyone’s word for this sort of thing. Look at the data!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How do you respond when you start to feel anxious?
  2. What does the author of the article linked above suggest you do when you start to feel anxious that is different than how you responded to the first question above?
  3. Did the research articles below and linked in the main article discussed above provide you with support to make changes in how you think about anxiety? If not, what additional research would you like to see done?

References (Read Further):

Clark, A. H. (2018). Hack Your Anxiety: How to Make Anxiety Work for You in Life, Love, and All That You Do. Sourcebooks, Inc.

Keller, A., Litzelman, K., Wisk, L. E., Maddox, T., Cheng, E. R., Creswell, P. D., & Witt, W. P. (2012). Does the perception that stress affects health matter? The association with health and mortality. Health Psychology, 31(5), 677. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3374921/

Crum, Alia, (2018) The science of how mindset transforms the human experience, the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.  https://sparq.stanford.edu/sparq-health-director-crum-discusses-mindsets-world-economic-forum-video

Burklund, L. J., Creswell, J. D., Irwin, M., & Lieberman, M. (2014). The common and distinct neural bases of affect labeling and reappraisal in healthy adults. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 221. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00221

Moore, M., Culpepper, S., Phan, K. L., Strauman, T. J., Dolcos, F., & Dolcos, S. (2018). Neurobehavioral Mechanisms of Resilience Against Emotional Distress: An Integrative Brain-Personality-Symptom Approach Using Structural Equation Modeling. Personality Neuroscience, 1. https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/FC0EB568625800B3BD7B931E05D30762/S2513988618000111a.pdf/div-class-title-neurobehavioral-mechanisms-of-resilience-against-emotional-distress-an-integrative-brain-personality-symptom-approach-using-structural-equation-modeling-div.pdf
Strack, Juliane; Lopes, Paulo; Esteves, Francisco; Fernandez-Berrocal, Pablo (2017) Must We Suffer to Succeed?: When Anxiety Boosts Motivation and Performance, Journal of Individual Differences. 38(2):113-124. https://econtent.hogrefe.com/doi/abs/10.1027/1614-0001/a000228

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