Facing Anxiety Head On: Using Anxiety as a Motivator


Facing Anxiety Head On: Using Anxiety as a Motivator

by Jennifer Brown
Stripes Korea

Editor’s note: At Stripes Okinawa, we love to share your stories and share this space with our community members. Here is an article written by Jennifer Brown, a hospital corpsman at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. If you have a story or photos to share, let us know at okinawa@stripes.com.

Whether you are anxious about the unknown, or something specific triggers you, anxiety serves a function in our lives. When our anxiety becomes so high and unmanageable, however, we can feel like it has control. One thing to remember about anxiety is that it can function as a motivator to propel us forward, instead of letting it hold us back.

First, we need to acknowledge our anxiety and its triggers. For instance, if you start to feel anxious when you watch the news, write down what happened right before you sat down, what was being said, thoughts you experienced, and any physiological symptoms you noticed.  These notes will allow you to analyze the specifics that surround the anxiety-provoking situation.

Then, we can begin to process these feelings and triggers. Talking it out and writing down notes can help with this step. Usually, I start by writing down what I noticed during my anxiety. After writing it out, I can then find connections between my thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Connecting the dots are where we are able to regain power over the anxiety we experience. An anxiety-inducing situation that I have had often is when I’m ordering food in public. My heart starts to race right before I’m about to tell the waiter my order. This anxiety starts even prior to leaving my home to go to a restaurant as I start to play out the scenario in my mind. It can be paralyzing, makes me feel embarrassed and can prevent me from speaking confidently once the time does come for me to place in order.

My strategy is to problem-solve because it helps distract me from the anxiety and allows me to act anyway. Thinking about a solution, takes the focus away from the pressure to order and onto a neutral mindset to assess the situation, not just what our anxiety wants us to see.

For example, before I even go out to eat, I can counter my anxiety by knowing my order ahead of time. I can also use deep breathing to counter any anxiety that comes up right before the waiter takes my order. Likewise, it may be helpful for me to envision myself speaking to the waiter clearly before it actually happens. However you decide to confront an anxiety-provoking situation, remember that anxiety is temporary. Anxiety can be used as a tool to help us move forward...as long as we are willing to act in spite of it.


Jennifer Brown is a hospital corpsman at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. Originally from Florida, she joined the Navy in 2018 and has been on island for over a year. During her free time, Brown enjoys spending time with animals, running, rock climbing, and hiking. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Her professional interests include social work, animal welfare, and children.

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