If you’ve ever struggled with anxiety, you know how terrible it can be—whether it manifests itself as a heart-racing, jumpy feeling, a nervous stomach, or a full-on panic attack. And while this doesn’t exactly turn the experience into a walk through a field of roses, a new study does offer up one silver lining: According to new data, a moderate anxiety level can help you remember experiences better.
Recently published in the journal Brain Sciences, researchers at the University of Waterloo studied 80 college students, who all completed a Depression Anxiety Stress Scale test, so researchers could pinpoint their anxiety levels. Then, the participants were asked to complete a task. Some—picked at random—were given an easy task while others had a much harder one. The researchers saw that the participates with a middling anxiety level performed the best.
“There is an optimal level of anxiety that is going to benefit your memory, but we know from other research that high levels of anxiety can cause people to reach a tipping point.” —Myra Fernandes, the study’s co-author
“To some degree, there is an optimal level of anxiety that is going to benefit your memory, but we know from other research that high levels of anxiety can cause people to reach a tipping point, which impacts their memories and performance,” says Myra Fernandes, the study’s co-author.
If you think about it, the findings make sense. Having an emotional response to something can help it stick in your memory longer. But when the emotions are too heightened, it can actually take over, coloring the experience.
The study’s findings don’t exactly make having anxiety any more fun. But, hey, at least it’s good for something—in moderation.
Speaking of anxiety, find out how the ketogenic diet could help. Plus, how to calm your mind and gut in five minutes flat.
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