What is anxiety?
Anxiety can be defined as:
- A state of uneasiness and apprehension, as about future uncertainties.
- A state of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a real or imagined event, situation, or circumstance that we think might be threatening.
Anxiety is a state of apprehension that results from anticipating something we think might be dangerous and/or harmful to us.
For example, if you are standing in the middle of the road and see a speeding car approaching that you think could hit you, imagining the car could hit you and the harm it could cause creates a sense of danger that motivates you to take immediate protective action. Imagining being in harm’s way creates a troubled state of mind. This troubled state of mind and sense of urgency to escape danger is anxiety.
Sensing danger so that you can get out of harm’s way is part of the body’s survival mechanism. This survival mechanism is designed to protect you. So even though anxiety can feel strong at times, it’s an important part of your survival mechanism that keeps you safe…and alive.
In this regard, anxiety is our ally and shouldn’t be perceived as being something ‘bad’ or unwanted.
Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated June 2016.