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.