In manageable levels, these nerves can boost memory.
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Canadian researchers had people who had never been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder rate their levels of disquiet for a week. They found that participants who had felt moderately anxious remembered details of their days better
than those who had a calm mindset. However, people who had high levels of anxiety remembered neutral events with a more negative lens.
Your brain pays more attention to the things that it deems anxiety-inducing, be it a conversation with your boss or trying a new instructor in your favorite fitness class, explains study co-author Christopher Lee, psychology Ph.D. candidate at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. The upshot is that those anxious feelings could aid your workout, helping you remember the details to perfect deadlift form or a new HIIT routine better, for example. (Even if the anxiety is brought on by something unrelated to the gym.)
It becomes problematic when anxiety is above what the study qualified as moderate. When you're highly anxious and drag yourself to yoga at a new time, your negative mindset might file this perfectly fine new teacher away as “never again.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
Some amount of anxiety can be helpful to athletes. However, learn how to calibrate your energy
before a workout so you can ensure it stays in check, says Kristen Dieffenbach, Ph.D., mental performance consultant with the Association for Applied Sports Psychology in West Virginia. Practicing mindfulness
can help you be more present at the gym (and also throughout the rest of your day) so you'll remember more with or without anxiety.