When faced with a challenge, do you focus on the problem or the opportunity?
Some studies have shown that people who view challenging experiences as opportunities suffer less severe anxiety than those who suppress their emotions in difficult situations. Known as reappraisal, this means that more adaptive people are able to put individual situations into perspective and realise that a difficult scenario doesn’t necessarily signal doom.
The good news is that it’s possible to learn these behaviour-based ways of dealing with anxiety. The key is flexibility; being flexible enough to know how much to regulate emotions and learning to be more flexible when faced with challenging situations.
A little anxiety can work to our advantage in certain scenarios by enforcing concentration and efficiency. Keeping emotions under control may also be useful in some social scenarios, but people who focus on trying to avoid negative situations often internalise frustration, fear and symptoms of anxiety and stress, which can be bad for their health. Although the genetic or environmental factors that contribute to anxiety may be beyond our control, learning to regulate our emotions during crises can help build resilience against stress and reduce anxiety levels.