A lot of people are feeling anxious these days, and let's be honest, anxiety is….a bitch. Your hands sweat, your heart races, your breathing gets more labored, your chest tightens, and mind races. In short, it's not a fun time, which is why we try to tell ourselves to calm down. But here’s the thing, that never works and if anything it usually makes it worse. Instead, a much better way to deal with anxiety is to reframe it. Most of the time when we are experiencing anxiety, it is because we are telling ourselves a story about what is happening or what will happen. So an effective way of dealing with the emotion is to flip the script and the best way to do that is to tell yourself that you are excited instead.
I know you're probably thinking that when you are in that state, there is no way you could possibly say that you are excited. However, studies have shown that physiologically, anxiety and excitement are almost the same. Both emotions are arousal states and your body responds similarly to each. This makes it easier for your brain to believe that you are excited because your body is already there.
Beyond just lessening the anxiety, telling yourself that you are excited can also improve your performance. In one study, participants who were feeling anxious, were asked to say that they were excited before singing karaoke or giving a speech. Those who did so, significantly outperformed participants who just told themselves to calm down. On top of that, those in the excited group reported feeling more confident and had a better experience while performing their task.
Another study was done on people who felt overwhelmed about the amount of things on their to do list (I might be able to relate to this one). Half of the participants were asked to say “I am excited” three times out loud, while the rest were just asked to say their names. The group that said they were excited not only felt better about what they had to do but also reported feeling like they had more time to get everything done.
Reframing anxiety as excitement also trains the brain to be more opportunity focused. You begin to search for reasons to be excited and what could go right instead of focusing on what could go wrong. Developing an opportunity mindset makes us more resilient and better able to overcome obstacles and deal with stress. Another thing you could do is list all the ways the situation that is causing you anxiety could go well.
So the next time you are feeling anxious, try telling yourself that you are excited instead. It might feel awkward at first but it will get easier and easier until eventually you will start to believe it. The more you do it the more it will just become part of who you are. I would love to know how this works for you if you try it, so let me know in the comments below. Wishing you all an exciting week.