How to turn anxiety into a superpower

How to turn anxiety into a superpower: Five mind games to stop you feeling frazzled, by a leading neuroscientist

  • Dr Wendy Suzuki says we have plenty of fully justifiable reasons to feel anxious
  • Claims anxiety can be used to strengthen physical and emotional resilience  
  • Here, leading neuroscientist reveals how to turn anxiety into a superpower 

From daily pandemic fears to getting everything done by Christmas, we have plenty of fully justifiable reasons to feel anxious.

But it’s not all bad. My studies have shown anxiety can be used to strengthen your physical and emotional resilience, enhance your social intelligence and improve your creative skills.

Here’s how:

Know what the triggers are: 

When you are fully aware of what makes you anxious, you can better channel the energy that’s stimulated.

Dr Wendy Suzuki reveals how anxiety can be used to strengthen your physical and emotional resilience, enhance your social intelligence and improve your creative skills (file photo)

Recast your worries

Most of us have a cache of worries that gnaw at us. But studies show that visualising a positive outcome gives you an increased perceived ability to cope.

Try doing this once a day:

Instead of feeling roadblocked by anxiety, try channelling your worries into action. Think about a goal and write down your fears about it, listing any possible pitfalls and negative scenarios.

List the actions you can take to address each item — this becomes your ‘to do’ list. Work through it, ticking off each action as you accomplish it.

You should get to the point where you welcome the nervous jitters because you know exactly what you can do in any event.

Dr Wendy Suzuki recommends using the heightened feeling caused by anxiety to help you connect with others (file image)

Use the feeling to boost creativity 

Bad anxiety can shut down creativity. A classic example would be writer’s block. However, painful emotions can often fuel creativity, forcing you to dig deeper to find solutions.

Try to focus on how the anxiety is making you feel. If you deny anxiety, you will be missing out on the opportunity to use it for good. Sitting with your anxious feeling and leaning into the discomfort allows you to get used to the feeling and recognise you can survive it. You can then decide how to act.

Find compassion: your superpower 

Use the heightened feeling caused by anxiety to help you connect with others. Better still, you can convert empathy into the all-time anxiety superpower — compassion. Here’s how:

  • Your anxiety is triggered by a bad memory, remind yourself about someone you are grateful for. Send a note saying why you are grateful to them. It can be very short, but it will be appreciated and strengthen your relationship with that person.
  • Put your money worries in perspective by donating to a good cause.
  • Send three friendly texts to say hello or to ask a question. Do you know how good it feels to get an unexpected text from a friend? Pay attention to how you feel if you get a response.
  • Calm your job worries by asking someone more senior to be your mentor and adviser.

Dr Wendy Suzuki recommends breathing exercises and prioritising sleep to help you handle anxiety (file image) 

Eight ways to handle anxiety 

Adapted by Louise Atkinsaon from Anxiety Is Your Superpower by Dr Wendy Suzuki (£14.99, Yellow Kite) © Dr Wendy Suzuki 2021. 

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