Can anxiety act as a motivation for people?

This post answers questions about: Can anxiety act as a motivation for people? What are some ways that anxiety motivates people? What is Anxiety? What are the signs and symptoms of anxiety? Main reasons why anxiety holds us back? What are the causes of anxiety? What are some ways to manage anxiety? What are the therapy options for anxiety?

Can anxiety act as a motivation for people?

Anxiety can act as a motivation for many people experiencing it according to many new studies which otherwise contradict the older studies that state that anxiety hampers an individual’s overall performance.

In many studies, researchers have indicated that people with higher levels of anxiety tend to perform better in many areas than others.

These findings help to support the idea that many people are verbally expressive through the phrase “feeling under stress or when anxious about something I work better and finish on time”.

Many individuals believe that when they are anxious or stressed about something they are much more focused to achieve it. A common term that many researchers have given to this kind of motivation is “anxiety motivation”.

Supporting studies have indicated that the relation between anxiety and negative outcomes is disrupted amongst those who have higher levels of anxiety motivation.

Apart from this, it is also noted that when individuals use anxiety as a source of their motivation the other detrimental effects or symptoms of anxiety are lowered.

The common notion about anxiety is that it hampers a person’s functioning however many wouldn’t deny the fact that anxiety might help meet their goals and stay more focused throughout the process for the same.

What are some ways that anxiety motivates people?

In many instances, anxiety can be looked at as positive stress that motivates individuals to carry on with their activities and achieve their end goals. some ways that anxiety acts as a motivating force are: 

Anxiety motivates us to prepare

Anxiety can act as a motivating force for preparing individuals for big events or challenging situations. People can indeed prepare for important events without the presence of anxiety however when a body experiences the changes that anxiety brings about it creates a sense of urgency and that drives individuals to prepare themselves better.

Anxiety motivates us to maintain attention

Anxiety also acts as a motivating force to drive individuals’ attention towards what is most important in life at a given time. It helps individuals prioritize tasks and events based on their need for urgent attention.

Individuals experiencing anxiety sometimes become more alert throughout the process of achieving something than in the absence of anxiety.

Anxiety motivates us to communicate

People who experience anxiety at some point in time feel compelled to share their feelings with other individuals in such cases anxiety acts as a motivating force to share one’s feelings with others and feel much lighter in their heads.

Many times without the presence of anxiety individuals might hesitate to share their thoughts, emotions, and feelings with other people however the overwhelming feeling of anxiety might have individuals share these thoughts and feelings with someone that they trust.

Anxiety motivates us to stay protected

Feelings of anxiety are often associated with an overwhelming sense of fear. This fear motivates individuals to be more conscious about every step that they take in life and stay protected.

It motivates individuals to develop an imaginary self-protection guard around themselves which helps to stay safe from the possible threats that they have encountered in the past or anticipate for the future.

Main reasons why anxiety holds a person back?

Uncontrollable fear

People suffering from anxiety or anxiety disorder experience extreme levels of fear and anxiousness.

The intensity of fear is so high that it makes it difficult for people to even leave their house or socialize, which are some necessities of life.

When such high degrees of fear looms around a person it can be very difficult to overcome it and can affect every aspect of an individual’s life.

Apart from manifesting itself emotionally, anxiety can also be manifested physically, socially, and financially making it difficult for people to differentiate between real threats and anxiety-induced fears with no evidence.

Loss of confidence

Apart from intense fear anxiety also creates negative thought patterns and emotions in people which leads to decreased confidence and self-esteem.

This makes it difficult for people to compete with other people of high recognition and pushes an individual into a spot where they refuse to be noticed by others.

Adding onto which the negative criticisms given by other people regarding a person’s confidence cause further social withdrawal leading to a vicious cycle.

Can anxiety act as a motivation for people?

Apathetic attitude

Chronic and persistent anxiety leads to a loss of interest in areas that individuals usually enjoyed. people fear coming out of their comfort zone and distance themselves from everyone.

Fear of deadlines

Chronic anxiety sufferers usually dread deadlines. They feel that these deadlines are extremely pressurizing and unachievable. As deadlines come closer anxiety builds up even faster and might cause a complete shutdown in a person.

Missed opportunities

People who experience anxiousness and fear are more vulnerable to missed opportunities than others. This can be due to the idea they hold of always being in a safe spot rather than taking risks that can entail potential anxiety triggers.

Individuals with anxiety usually tend to settle for less and try not to draw attention towards themselves.

What is Anxiety?

Problems and resulting stress are a part of every individual’s life, which are usually accompanied by some common emotions like confusion, feeling at the edge, a sense of helplessness, and recurrent negative thoughts which can collectively be seen as an individual experiencing what’s commonly called as Anxiety. 

Every human has their unique ways of dealing with these difficult situations and the following emotions, some try to adapt to the circumstances and find the best and most comfortable solution while others try to find an escape route for the same, in both cases the main aim is usually to get over the uncomfortable emotions of anxiety. 

What are the signs and symptoms of anxiety? 

Anxiety is characterized by a set of signs and symptoms such as

  • Sweating
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sense of choking
  • Complaints of chest pain
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or Lightheadedness
  • Fear of losing control over oneself and their environment
  • Fear of impending doom
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Increased heart rate

These symptoms vary in severity from person to person. However, it is noted that many people experience anxiety attacks that are not significantly displayed.

What are the causes of anxiety?

Anxiety often results from accumulated stress or overwhelming feelings. Some common causes of anxiety include.

  • Increased and challenging situations and demands in day-to-day life.
  • Major changes in family dynamics such as marriage, divorce, death of a loved one.
  • Strain interpersonal relationships
  • Intrapersonal conflicts
  • Ineffective coping mechanisms
  • Comorbid conditions both physical and mental
  • Chronic health conditions
  • Genetic factors
  • Changes in the brain region
  • Overdose of caffeine
  • Prolonged use of medications
  • Significant traumatic experiences in the past or recent times
  • Comorbid mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder or any other phobias.

What are some ways to manage anxiety?

Identify and acknowledge the triggers

The most significant strategy that can be used to control one’s anxiety is by identifying and acknowledging those triggers.

Being able to recognize what makes an individual anxious makes them better equipped to take action.

Relaxation techniques


Even though anxiety can be bought under an individual’s control it cannot be predicted. In such situations, it is necessary that an individual actively carries out relaxation techniques.

These might include meditation, yoga, and deep breathing which helps to reduce the intensity of anxiety within a short period.



A key to reducing the frequency and intensity of anxiety attacks could be spending time with close family and friends.

The kind of emotional and practical support provided by these social and personal groups help the person feel connected and aid in distracting one’s mind from negative and recurring thoughts that lead to anxiety.

Apart from friends and families, individuals can also consider speaking to groups of people that are experiencing similar problems.

Set realistic goals

When an individual is feeling overwhelmed, setting goals and targets keeping in mind priorities can help resolve overwhelming feelings of fear or panic.

Setting goals provides structure and routine to an individual’s life reducing space for uncertainty which can be a major trigger for anxiety in many cases.

Take up new challenges

Apart from doing activities that an individual is usually fond of and has expertise in, trying new and challenging activities that put an individual outside their comfort zone in a healthy manner may help reduce the stress and anger temporarily.

Signing up for new activities also provides a path to meeting people with similar stories and concerns.

Lifestyle changes

An individual’s lifestyle plays a major role in their experience of anxiety. An unhealthy and busy lifestyle usually leads to unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, lack of adequate sleep.

A combination of a well-set diet, exercise, and sleep can help to regulate an individual’s mood and equip them with a favorable coping mechanism.

These coping mechanisms in turn help to get control over once anxiety concerns in a more adaptable manner.

lack of proper diet, sleep, and exercise can make an individual sluggish, dependent, moody and vulnerable to anxiety attacks.

Making journal entries

Last but not least having a journal to write down how a person is feeling and thinking when they are anxious helps them to reflect upon their thoughts and feelings.

Putting down one’s thoughts and feelings onto a paper helps to provide a sense of temporary relief.

In the case of journal entry, a person does not even have to fear being judged by another person regarding their thoughts and feelings.

What are the therapy options for anxiety?

Cognitive-behavioural therapy

Cognitive-behavioural therapy helps an individual to control their anxiety by using strategies like relaxation and breathing. It works on the principles of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a kind of therapy in which an individual is exposed to a particular stimulus that they usually fear or are anxious about in a graded order.

As and when the individual gets comfortable with the situation or stimulus introduced or exposed to them with each session, individuals get more comfortable with a real-life situation that might have otherwise been a source for triggering anxiety.

Group therapy


It is based on the principle that when an individual interacts with other people who are suffering from the same fears they might not feel left alone or isolated. Group therapy usually involves a group of individuals who are experiencing similar symptoms and problems.


Anxiety can also be treated with the help of medication prescribed by a health care professional.

Though medication alone cannot help in reducing persistent anxiety it can help in restoring a sense of control and bring temporary relief. 

Online therapy  

In cases where reaching out physically to a professional is impossible or discomforting an individual can opt to seek help through the online medium. 

In this, the therapy sessions are carried out one-to-one over a video or audio call. Some individuals also prefer interacting with the therapist through text as well due to various reasons. One of the most common is the fear of being judged by the therapist or some personal hesitation. 

Online therapy can help individuals to regulate some aspects of their anxiety that aids individuals in carrying out a stress-free life over time


Individuals only look at the negative side of anxiety and its symptoms. Individuals must look at anxiety as a motivating force and stay more focused on how it is helping them to perform better in their life and is pushing them towards self-improvement.

The more individuals dwell on the negative side of anxiety the more likely they are to fall into its complexities. whereas when individuals try to use these as a motivating force to get through the day it changes their perspectives about anxiety and its effects on them.

Frequently asked questions

Does anxiety affect motivation?

According to the new findings, anxiety acts as a motivating force for many individuals who experience them. This contradicts the past findings that indicate anxiety might harm one’s concentration and memory.

What are the warning signs of anxiety?

some common signs and symptoms of anxiety are:

  • Sense of nervousness and restlessness
  • Sense of impending doom
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating and trembling
  • Difficulty concentrating    

Why do people suddenly lack motivation?

Many individuals might experience a lack of motivation. This could be a sign of depression in severe cases but might have other unknown reasons that individuals must self-reflect upon.

Can anxiety be cured?

Anxiety is not curable but there are many ways individuals can adapt to reduce the symptoms such that they can carry out a functional life.


People can use anxiety to motivate themselves, study finds