Let's not sugarcoat it: Life can be hard for anxious kids. Even simple, everyday tasks can seem big and scary when they come with sweaty palms, a pounding heart, and the feeling that something -- anything, maybe even everything -- is about to go horribly wrong. Anxious kids may feel like it's their job to stop a disaster from happening, or even like they've done something wrong and need to fix it. That's a lot to shoulder at any age.
But they've done nothing wrong; in fact, those anxious feelings have some hidden advantages. It's kind of like having a secret superpower. Here are 11 interesting ways that anxiety can actually be a good thing:
1. You are creative.
Often, the people who worry the most have great imaginations. You are able to see situations in new and inventive ways. Your imagination is like a muscle; the more you use it, the more creativity can come out of it.
2. You prepare your body to perform at its best.
Having a little bit of anxiety can actually help you perform better at all sorts of tasks, both physical and mental. It's like having your own secret rocket fuel that you can channel into highly effective action, especially if you use it to prepare beforehand.
3. You are observant (and self-aware).
A little bit of anxiety might just save your life, because it makes you more observant of threats in your surroundings. You notice things that other people are more likely to take for granted.
4. You are leadership material.
You take into account the possibility of multiple outcomes when making a decision--a characteristic of a great leader.
5. You are a good friend.
When you're anxious, the entire world can feel like a terrible, horrible, no good and very bad place to be. But we promise, it's almost always better than you think. In fact, researchers have discovered that people almost always think better of you than you expect, and your friends value your friendship more than you can even imagine.
6. You are trustworthy.
Even if people can see that you're a little flustered sometimes, they don't mind because it shows that you care about the people around you and what's going on. They're much more likely to trust you than someone who's completely calm and composed all the time.
7. You are prudent.
Anxious youngsters are considerably less likely to be involved in a fatal accident than less anxious peers.
8. You are people smart.
By virtue of constantly scanning the environment for threats, anxiety can make you more attuned to the social and emotional signals of others. You're an ace at figuring out who you can trust, and you're also really good at seeing the value in other people, even if they don't see it for themselves.
9. You can see right through lies.
Speaking of reading people: If someone lies to you, you're probably going to see right through it. And hey, if you like playing poker? Some types of anxiety make you really good at that, too.
10. You practice and prepare.
It might feel like anxiety keeps you from thinking straight -- but sometimes that's actually a good thing. If you've trained hard for an exam, a performance or a sports match, a little anxiety can help you get out of your own way and let that training kick in.
11. You are brave!
It's pretty cool that anxiety comes with all these hidden benefits, but let's face it, when the anxiety comes on strong, life can still be pretty rough. Dealing with those anxious feelings requires a lot of courage and confidence, and that makes you one of the strongest people in the room.
Have an anxious child? Teach them research-based coping skills through fun cartoons at www.gozen.com.
Illustration credit: GoZen.com
This article was original published on PsychCentral