How Driving Anxiety Can Actually Benefit You

benefitsYes, you know all about the detriments of driving anxiety. But even though driving anxiety is typically viewed and experienced as a negative thing, did you ever consider there may actually be some positive benefits? We did. And so have several others. Sit back, relax, and we’ll tell you what they are.

It May Help You Stay Safer

The purpose of anxiety is to protect you from danger, typically allowing you to react more rapidly in emergencies. That’s why it brings on the fight-or-flight response, which was meant to make humans fight back or flee from a risky situation in ancient times.

That same concept may hold true in the modern world, with anxiety helping you to react more quickly to avoid a collision or even stop you from entering a hazardous situation and location.

A U.K. study found adolescents with anxiety had fewer accidents and accidental deaths in early childhood than adolescents that didn’t have anxiety. This gives a new perspective on anxiety, one in which it may actually play a role in helping to keep you safer.

It Can Help You Make Wiser Decisions

A dose of anxiety can help with making decisions, since it helps you weigh all the pros and cons of a situation – even the worst case scenarios. Those who don’t have any anxiety are often more prone to focusing only on the potentially positive outcomes of a situation, or what is known as “unrealistic optimism.”

Only looking at or even expecting positive outcomes can definitely sway decisions, resulting in choosing an option that may ultimately lead to surprisingly horrible results. Keep a bit of anxiety in the mix, and decisions are typically made in a much more objective fashion with all the pros and cons examined.

Two researchers in a 2009 study found anxious people made much better decisions in a playing card experiment than their non-anxious counterparts. The researchers noted anxiety is “an adaptive, protective behavioral motive” that plays a role in our decisions and actions in a beneficial manner.

It Can Make You a Better Friend

Experiencing your own bouts of driving anxiety may make you more understanding and empathetic toward the issues of others. Undergoing your own personal struggles can result in heightened levels of sensitivity, compassion and acceptance toward other people’s challenges.

It Can Motivate You

Need a boost feeling motivated and prepared when faced with a challenge? Draw on your anxiety. Research found both athletes and students who had some level of anxiety actually performed better in sports and on tests, respectively.

A degree of anxiety can also enhance performance on cognitive tests for those with good working memory. Here you can pinpoint ways your own anxiety may prompt you to enhance certain areas of your life. Does it drive you to put extra effort into your work, hobbies, passions or goals?

Think of ways you may be able to use your anxiety to propel self-improvement and growth. Think of how it may have improved your friendships and other relationships. Give it a nod for its potential to help you stay safe and make enlightened decisions. Then remember no matter what you may have previously thought, driving anxiety is not a 100-percent bad thing.


Photo Credit: pg_art Flickr via Compfight cc