Anxiety can help

Oh, thank god. You can’t believe how anxious I get about events: the sole thing I’ve found can stop me worrying about a forthcoming gig is to have another gig to worry about it first. But 99U claims that anxiety can be good for you. Obviously within limits, neither they nor I want to encourage you to do anything that could get us sued, but.

Calming yourself down is often the wrong thing to do. Research by Alison Wood Brooks at Harvard Business School found that when participants interpreted their nerves as excitement (for example, by saying to themselves “I’m excited!”), they gave better public presentations than those who tried to relax.

If you’re not anxious at all about an upcoming test, it probably means you don’t care. It’s only when anxiety becomes excessive and out of control that it starts to harm your performance. Psychologists have known about this anxiety “sweet spot” for decades…

The Unexpected Benefits of Anxiety – Christian Jarrett, 99U (undated, probably 22 June 2015)

Read the full piece for links to the research and a graph of that anxiety sweet spot thing.

Anxious people screw up

No, really? But:

New brain evidence provides insight into why highly anxious people are worst at making decisions when things get unpredictable (Illustration by Ian Smiley)
Highly anxious people have more trouble deciding how best to handle life’s uncertainties. They may even catastrophize, interpreting, say, a lovers’ tiff as a doomed relationship or a workplace change as a career threat.

In gauging people’s response to unpredictability, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Oxford found that people prone to high anxiety have a tougher time reading the environmental cues that could help them avoid a bad outcome.

Their findings, reported today (March 2) in the journal Nature Neuroscience, hint at a glitch in the brain’s higher-order decision-making circuitry that could eventually be targeted in the treatment of anxiety disorders, which affect some 40 million American adults.

Anxious people more apt to make bad decisions amid uncertainty – Yasmin Anwar, UC Berkeley (2 March 2015)

Read the full piece for more. And hat tip to Fast Company for it.

Dot dot dot – waiting for them to finish a text reply

You’ve seen this in iMessage, you’ve seen it WhatsApp: you’ve sent someone a message and your screen shows you three little dots. Without ever being told, you knew that this means they’re writing back to you.

Actually, stop for a second. That’s really clever: without ever being told, still we know exactly what it means, we know exactly what it is happening.

Until the dots vanish and theres no reply.

“The three dots shown while someone is drafting a message in iMessage is quite possibly the most important source of eternal hope and ultimate letdown in our daily lives,” said Maryam Abolfazli, a writer in Washington who has tackled the topic. “It’s the modern-day version of watching paint dry, except you might be broken up with by the time the dots deliver.”

Bubbles Carry a Lot of Weight: Texting Anxiety Caused by Little Bubbles – Jessica Bennett, New York Times (29 August 2014)

You are not alone. Read the full piece.

Don’t worry, be whatever

Oh, give me a break. There’s a site that has collected quotes about worry. And it’s called The Sunshine and Apples Inky-Poo Positivity Site. Okay, I made that up. But puh-leese. Can we just get on with things and not start quoting each other? T’is a slippery slde from that to armed insurrection.


“If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today.”
– E. Joseph Cossman, quoted on The Positivity Blog (Undated by believed to be 16 July 2014)

Okay, I’ll give them that. Can’t argue with that.

And actually, I can’t argue with most of the quotes on the site. Curses.