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Science Finds An Interesting Link Between Anxiety And Intelligence

Science Finds An Interesting Link Between Anxiety And Intelligence

People who think too much may have little reason to worry. Recent studies have shown that there is a link between anxiety and intelligence and it is a positive one.

Scientists found that people who worry a lot do so because they experience “high levels of spontaneous activity” in the part of the brain that manages threat perception.

Fear allows you to react to a potential threat in good time. Being too happy all the time means that you don’t think about potential problems.  It’s hard to anticipate something you’re not thinking about. Thus, the ultra-cheerful are at a disadvantage when they need to overcome adversity. This is especially true for rare or complex problems that are difficult to expect.

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People with anxiety are sometimes responding to a threat that doesn’t exist. But, the response means that their imagination is highly active. An active imagination keeps you safe from threats that other people might not pick up on.

The study was published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences in 2015. It is one of several studies to find a strong link between anxiety and intelligence.

An Anxious Mind Is a Focused Mind

The general belief about anxiety is that it’s a negative thing. Because suffering from anxiety is not pleasant, most of the people who deal with it wish they didn’t have to. But this does not necessarily need to be the case. Science is showing that a little bit of anxiety, while uncomfortable, is a good thing.

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In 2012, Israeli psychologists ran a test on 80 students at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. The students were under the impression that they were there to assess artwork on a piece of software.

Instead, the researchers rigged the program. Instead of viewing art, the students triggered a computer virus. They were then encouraged to contact IT.

Finding IT presented new challenges. As the students left the room, they were accosted by various obstacles. Some students dropped papers as they walked by. Someone also stopped them to ask the participant to complete a survey.

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The test found that the participants who really wanted to reach IT to fix the virus had the highest amount of anxiety.

The students who had less anxiety got distracted. They stopped to complete the survey, pick up the papers, etc.

Essentially, the anxious students had a greater sense of the threat and what was at stake. Thus, they stopped at little to accomplish their goal. This is where the correlation between IQ comes in because when anxious people want to relieve their anxiety not just by performing a task. They want to perform it well.

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So anxiety can actually gives us higher chance to succeed!

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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